Convalesco

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Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

A. Einstein


Please don't change the world

Date: 22/04/2014, 22:58

Category: social



According to a survey on HackerNews the third most popular reason to build a web application is to change the world.

I find the above statement extremely unsettling, misleading and unjustified. Almost insulting. Every time I read about Zuckerberg, Gates and other billionaires who wanted to change the world I’m getting itchy. When I read about a new startup that wants to change the world I get sick.

A man, woman or group of people can change the world through an idea. An idea usually starts a movement. This movement makes change happen. More often than not, many people die in between. That’s how it works.

Twitter was extensively used during the Arab spring by the locals, to communicate with each other and the world. But it was just a tool. If twitter did not exist, something else would have been used instead. Jack Dorsey didn’t turn into Che Guevara overnight because twitter was used as a communication medium in the Arab spring.

Protocols, programs and web application are just tools. Tools can be used to induce or inhibit the propagation of an idea. Depends on the situation. But sure as hell, tools do not create or fight for an idea.

When I think of people who changed the world, I picture Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., the Suffragettes and many others. These people did change the world for the better. India is free, the Apartheid came to an end, the African-Americans have rights in the USA and at least in the western world, women have the right to vote and own properties. It was not always like this and I believe that an application can not achieve any of these things.

So please, don’t do it. Don’t go around stating that you want to change the world by writing software. Changin the world is an extremely pretentious task. The statement, in my view, carries great disrespect to the people who suffered to make our lives better by actually changing the world.