Thursday, May 13, 2010

Work on Stuff that Matters

I was impressed when I heard Tim O'Reilly recommending to all tech folks last year that they Work on Stuff that Matters. Tim's point wasn't that all tech developers should go to work for nonprofits, it was that people should step back and think about what matters to them. Life is too short to throw your professional life away on stuff you don't care about.

Like many techies, I came to the field because I loved doing tech. We get a charge out of figuring things out, and understanding how the world works in a deep ways. Almost all the geeks I know want to do something important, something meaningful, whether exploring something new in cosmology, designing a building that could better resist an earthquake, cure a disease or design a new and faster chip.

I see this hunger for meaning in most of the people I'm privileged to meet: from the college freshman to the fresh grad to the mid-career professional and the senior executive. We all want to work on Stuff That Matters. And, the opportunities to do so have never been better.

Business as usual hasn't been working out so well. There are a new wave of leaders who want business to both make money and do right by society and the planet.

Government as usual is changing fast, because it needs to. We need to do more with less money, and grapple with the big issues facing humanity.

The social sector is having to evolve in this changing world. Education the way we've always done it isn't meeting the needs of our nation. Social services that were innovative thirty years ago now need to be rebuilt to better meet the needs of today.

At my nonprofit tech company Benetech, our team applies successful models from Silicon Valley to better solve really important social problems. For example, we combined the business strategies of Amazon and (the old) Napster to create Bookshare to bring accessible talking books to students who can't read print books because of their disabilities.

If you're looking for a new job, look for a company that offers the chance to work on Stuff That Matters. We need you to get engaged now, in business, government and the social sector, to build the better world we all need, and that our children and grandchildren will need.

Oh, and by the way, Benetech has four job openings for people who want to join us to fulfill our motto "Technology Serving Humanity."

1 comment:

SAM said...

I completely agree with you. As a mid-level tech professional who started her way writing device drivers, and progressing up the software chain to write epayment applications, and now in product management, I'm starting to look for ways to make what I do more meaningful.
BTW, I've applied to one of the postings :-)