Random Hacks of Kindness

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuartpilbrow/


This post is part of a series by my students at Mississippi Governor’s School. As a final project, they were challenged with creating an idea that could be used on a massive scale to help others live the good life.

Random Hacks of Kindness (RHOK) is an organization dedicated to helping come up with technology-based solutions to real world problems. By using mass collaboration in the form of events called “hackathons,” RHOK has been able to create apps and publish games that help Peace Corps volunteers and business leaders. This organization impacts people around the world.

The main problem faced by RHOK is low awareness of the organization. Many people have never heard of RHOK. You don’t have to be a web programmer or app designer to help RHOK. One way you can easily help RHOK is by telling others about the organization and inspiring them to tell others. If more people are aware of what RHOK does, more people will be able to help.

Another way to help RHOK is by hosting an event. There are two types of RHOK events—global events and community events. Both types draw the best hackers from around the world. Global events focus on “hacking for the social good,” meaning that all forms of hacking can and will be used to form solutions for all forms of problems. Community events focus on a specific theme or a specific location. Hosting an RHOK event takes much effort. A license is required to host the event and many things must be considered, but the results are always rewarding. RHOK event organizers must find people or businesses willing to sponsor the event. A willingness to financially sponsor RHOK’s cause is another way to help.

RHOK also needs people called “subject matter experts” (SMEs) to identify and fully understand problems. SMEs must be able to explain these problems in detail to hackers in order for a solution to be found. Hackers can then begin to brainstorm and solve problems faced by people around the world. SMEs help from the very beginning. They identify problems that are interesting to hackers, are related to an ongoing operational program, and can be owned by a person or organization by asking questions like “What information do people need access to?” and “How do we make ‘crowdsourced’ data valuable and efficient?” Once the SMEs identify a problem, they attend an event to propose it to hackers for potential solutions. SMEs must be able to easily and fully explain the problem that needs to be solved. SMEs then work the hackers to create a solution that can be easily and efficiently accomplished.

I never imagined that there could be so many problems faced by society today. I always thought that living in such a technology-rich society meant living in a problem-free society. I also never thought there would be a way that I could help find solutions to global problems. I now know that I can make an impact.  I can raise awareness for RHOK’s mission. I can look in to finding a way to becoming a designer or programmer. That would be so cool. I am planning to open my own business after I get out of college. That means that in a few years, I can help by sponsoring an event. Another way that I can help RHOK is by sharing information about the organization to people who can help create solutions. I know several people at my school who often rewrite and create programs because they truly enjoy it. If I inspire them to attend events, they’ll have a great time doing what they enjoy and they’ll be helping the greater good. I can easily download the apps created by RHOK to my phone. Apps are pointless if no one is using them. I can also attend events and help brainstorm solutions. RHOK needs creative and innovative people at every event to come up with appropriate solutions for each problem. At these events, I’m sure I can easily pick up skills to do more.

I would have never recognized these problems or the way I could help if it weren’t for philosophy class at MGS. I have learned more about global issues over the course of three weeks than I have in my whole life. When I first started this class, I thought that philosophy was all about finding problems but never finding a set-in-stone solution. After taking this class, I now realize that philosophy is all about finding the unknown—finding unknown problems, finding solutions with unknown outcomes, and finding things unknown about yourself.

Over the last three weeks, I have learned so much about myself. I’ve realized that I only have one precious life, so I better make sure it counts. I’ve learned that every decision I make—no matter how big or small the decision is—affects someone. It’s like a domino effect. I can touch one person, who can touch one person, who can touch one person, until the whole “chain-link fence” has been touched.  I can improve the world as long as I set my mind to it.

There are several things I will take away from this class. I will always know that it is important for me to stand strong in my convictions. I will remember that I must be wise in every decision I make, because it will always affect someone and that effect can be negative or positive. I will remember that I should always question things, because without questioning things I can never find a pleasing solution. I’m so thankful I was in this class. I will always treasure my time here.

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