Random Hacks of Kindness event in Philly today

It’s going to be a great day of building, to help make things better, at today’s Random Hacks of Kindness event in Philly. If you are a programmer, a designer, a builder, you want to be there today.


Lately I’ve been part of a project helping tutor an individual in assisted living, who is disabled, in learning how to navigate the Web and email, with the eventual goal of uploading his music to YouTube. I can’t wait to introduce you to him – he’s fantastic and his songwriting is interesting.

It has been a terrific experience, an eye opener, and a reminder of things I I might have forgotten from when I used to develop applications for folks I worked with at Sears, who were not familiar with using a mouse, let alone an application of some sort.

Two things that come to mind that I will probably talk more about in later posts are that metaphors and analogies are terrific communication tools and that we as programmers and web service producers still make things too damn hard – there is still tremendous opportunity for innovation.

Example idea:

Markup that web browsers recognize for Login and Logout links/activities/forms so that the web browser itself can present a common interface for this kind of common action. Everyone has these interactions in different locations, with different looks and feels, but for those people who are disadvantaged in some way, this could provide a common interface. This way, web designers can keep the flexibility in their UI designs they seek *and* an additional utility would be available in the browser itself, to assist those who need it.

Just an idea to throw out there.

I’m thankful to be in a position to do this, and I hope to share more as this project progresses.

What could you/we/us do to help the Gulf Coast?

It is easy to be depressed about the oil leak in the Gulf Coast. It is easy to feel helpless. It is easy to feel ineffectual rage.

So don’t.

Share what is it that you, me, we, us can do to help the Gulf Coast in the here and now? (examples: aid packages, directed money, etc)

Share what is it that you, me, we, us can do to help the Gulf Coast from ever experiencing a man-made tragedy like this again in the future? (examples: carpooling, public transportation drives, home energy usage improvements, etc)

We are not helpless.

Don’t be fearful and not offer an idea because it is not a fleshed out solution. An idea you have might turn into a solution when others see it and can build off of it.

PS – I will be taking your suggestions to our CIM Volunteers meeting.

NPR covers Mark Horvath’s Invisiblepeople.tv

I try and spend some time each week serving lunch at Project H.O.M.E.’s “Women of Change” with other fellow CIM Volunteers. I’m engaging some of the folks who work at Women of Change into possibly trying a project along these lines. I think Mark Horvath is onto something by sharing these stories as raw as he does.

NPR.org: “Former Homeless Man’s Videos Profile Life On Street”

Reference Links:

Invisible people.tv

Mark Horvath: haRdLy NOrMal

“So what will it mean to bear witness in the future?”

They say that history is written by the victors. But now, before the victors win, there is a chance to scream out with a text message that will not vanish. What would we know about what passed between Turks and Armenians, between Germans and Jews, if every one of them had had the chance, before the darkness, to declare for all time: “I was here, and this is what happened to me”?

– Anand Giridharadas in the NYTimes in “Africa’s Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis”.

Ushahidi sounds inspiring.

The project is on Github.

It’s cold out – what you can do to help homeless in Philadelphia

Write on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet or purse.

If you see a homeless person living on the streets in the cold please call that number.

Its Project H.O.M.E.’s Outreach Hotline.

If you happen to be homeless, in need of services, and have access to a phone, call 1.877.222.1984.

It’s that simple.

If you have more time or resources, think about volunteering or donating to Project H.O.M.E..

This post inspired by Garret Vreeland‘s recent link to CNN story “How to help the homeless in the cold”.

On blaming the victim

It used to be common place when a women was raped to blame her in America: to say that she wore the wrong clothes, she was at the wrong place at the wrong time, or sent out the ‘wrong signals’. Unfortunately, this attitude still exists in parts of the world.

It is still commonin America to take the default position that when a person loses their job, their house, their lively hoods, to put the blame on their shoulders. Even in the ‘Great Recession’ we are now in. They didn’t work hard enough. They didn’t move with the times fast enough. They were losers or uneducated due to their own laziness.

I have heard, horrifically, when people have lost children, or gotten cancer, or were dealing with mental illness, they simply didn’t *pray* enough. That God must be teaching them a lesson.

All this is echoed in what Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson spewed this week.

I’m a free speech absolutist, so I’m not going to say these creatures don’t have a right to speak.

But fuck them.

You have the power to walk away, turn the channel, delete that bookmark.

Events like the earthquake in Haiti do put things in perspective. In addition they help separate those that actually *care* for other human beings from those that think they are the center of the world or are the marketers of that.

Update: Satan writes Pat Robertson a letter.

As Fred Clark says Pat Robertson would tell Jesus he must have deserved it.