David Storey, Technical Director, looks at how the internet can play an altruistic role in society and current sites that allow us to do good online.
You just have to skim through the latest news headlines to know that the internet can be a nasty place. Of course, like the telephone and combustion engine before it, all the internet does is allow ideas to spread faster. Good or bad.
Rather than getting gloomy about the ugly side of our rapid technological progress I wanted to be positive. Instead, I spent some time considering how the internet can be used as a force for good.
As part of an agency that promotes human advantage through technology it’s an issue close to my heart.
I looked at four examples of how the web can empower individuals to improve the lives of others without leaving the comfort of their computer. Things that go beyond putting a flag on your Facebook profile, signing a petition or Liking a tweet.
The summary of my findings are below but there are links to follow if you’d like my more in-depth analysis and find out how you can do good yourself.
Gaps on maps
Large areas of the Earth are still relatively unmapped. This can prove particularly problematic when humanitarian disasters occur and aid workers can't locate those needing assistance. Missing Maps allows remote volunteers to build maps based on aerial photography.
I found it simple to use and the process feels productive and something that could genuinely be useful to someone someday.
Be My Eyes has a wonderfully simple concept. Partially sighted people struggling to read something can launch an app, point their camera at the text and a volunteer will read it for them. An Uber for eyesight if you like.
I found the reality to be less straightforward, but still something worth considering if you’re looking to do some good.
Clicking for rice
How can you do good with the simplest of actions - clicking a button? The Hunger Site claims to donate roughly “one cup of food” to the needy whenever a user clicks a large button on their site.
It sounds too good to be true so I tested to see if it works. Whilst I was a little unclear about how effective it really is and where the money goes, you could well find the concept inspiring.
Taking time to listen
There’s a growing number of sites that offer online chat rooms and counselling for those struggling with issues relating to their mental health. 7 Cups offers premium access to professional counsellors as well as a free community for people to chat with volunteer “Listeners”.
I found it easy to sign up as a Listener and encountered a large demand for help. I also was able to make a difference, although some of the experience was a little dispiriting.
As our mission at AmazeRealise is to always think about humans first, technology second, this investigation really resonated with me. It was fascinating to see how others have taken this approach and the varying degree of success they’ve had.
If you want a more positive take on the internet and what it can achieve please delve into my findings. I reckon there will be at least a couple of options that you’ll like to try for yourself.
Explore David’s experiences then contact us below to talk about how we can help you put humans before technology.