A Hompage For The Homeless

You’re hereby warned: over the next weekend will thousands of hackers gather in cities around the globe to test out their latest tools and perhaps come up with some new ones. They are invited by Google, Microsoft, NASA, Yahoo! and The World Bank.

“It is an opportunity to meet and work with top software developers and disaster experts, to create and improve open source applications that enable communities to recover from disasters.”

Google Code Blog

My New Desktop

What! I had to read it twice. It turns out the three rulers of the internet, together with NASA and The World Bank, is inviting software developers, private hackers and students to participate in an event called “Random Hacks of Kindness,” (RHoK) to create some kind of disaster recovery application.

If you too have trouble believing your own eyes, here’s the link to the blog post at Google Code Blog.

Come Hack for Humanity! the Google-guy writes.

And leaves me with more questions than a European Stability Mechanism.

First: What disaster is he talking about?

In fact, according to the blog post, this is the third time, these four institutions invite hackers to this kind of event. The first one took place in November last year and the second in June this summer.

Google Code Blog writes:

“RHoK brings together volunteer programmers and experts in disaster response for a two-day hackathon to create software solutions that focus on problems related to disaster risk and response. It is an opportunity to meet and work with top software developers and disaster experts, to create and improve open source applications that enable communities to recover from disasters, and to possibly win prizes.”

The winner in 2009 was a mobile phone application that enables you to send out a “broad” message (email, SMS, Facebook, etc.) to as many people as you want, by just pressing one single button.

Earlier this year the friendly hacker prize was awarded a prediction model (algorithm), that outputs visualization, interpretation and identification of landslide risk reduction measures.

Well, that’s all mighty fine. But still; why just disaster applications?

And why do Microsoft, Google – and NASA (!) – need to call on amateurs and private hackers? Isn’t these companies supposed to have some of the best computer experts available in this part of the world on their payrolls?

Will All The Chinese Raise Their Hands, Please?

RHOK will be held simultaneously in many locations around the world on December 4 and 5.

The five main stages will be in Chicago, Sao Paolo, Aarhus, Nairobi and Bangalore; and there will be over a dozen satellite events in other global cities.

The satellite connections will be set up here:

New York, New York, U.S.A
Lusaka, Zambia
Berlin, Germany
Toronto, Canada
Bogota, Colombia
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
Jakarta, Indonesia
Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Birmingham, U.K.
Singapore
Tel Aviv, Israel (Dec. 3rd/4th)
Mexico City, Mexico
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Juarez, Mexico
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (Dec. 5 only)

(More info about the “Random Hacks of Kindness” here)

I also wonder who really turns up at these events. I strongly doubt that the most creative, sophisticated and competent private hackers will register, sign in and log on to this special purpose system just for the sake of humanity.

You’ve probably noticed that besides Indonesia and Singapore, there is no Asian participation.

Hack - The definition

I could go on asking stupid questions for a page or three more, but I probably wouldn’t get any answers anyway.

However, an old saying from back in the 60’s comes to mind:

“Fighting for freedom is like fucking for virginity”

In this case I think the following re-write is suitable:

“Hacks for humanity is like a homepage for the homeless”

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