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Don't just build things, help people (medium.com)
25 points by Peteris 1367 days ago | hide | past | web | 15 comments | favorite



The title should probably be "Don't just build things, make things a little more convenient for people". Yplan is your example. Really? That is tremendously disappointing.

Is it possible that we can aspire to create better things than that? Can we bring food and shelter to those who don't have it? Can we bring counseling to the those who need it? Can we support and create real face to face local community? In other words can we take our gifts and the tremendous leverage that software and technology provides and actually help people? Can we fly in the face the current economic incentives and actually help people?

Otherwise we are just creating things that may be popular/successful in the the short term but die in the long term because they have no "real" value. And we as producers suffer under the truth denying myth that we are doing something of value when we actually know that we are just trying to cash in on a tiny worthless market wrinkle. We might as well be playing the stock market.


>Can we bring food and shelter to those who don't have it? Can we bring counseling to the those who need it? Can we support and create real face to face local community? In other words can we take our gifts and the tremendous leverage that software and technology provides and actually help people? Can we fly in the face the current economic incentives and actually help people?

While these are great pursuits, unfortunately most of these things aren't the best for profit generation.

Many startups are in fact non-profits, but a lot of the biggest innovation you see is in the for-profits (for obvious reasons).

>We might as well be playing the stock market.

I disagree. Intel and AMD were startups at some point; Google was for a while. Amazon, ebay, etc. While these don't give value in the sense of providing food or homes, they add a lot of value to the current kind of world we live in.


I agree that most apps might not be saving lives. I chose YPlan because the Founders used a rigorous strategy of looking for problems rather than looking for solutions.

This is beyond the post, but I agree that value should land where it can deliver the biggest impact. However, making money writing apps for 20-somethings isn't necessarily a bad thing, what matters is where that money goes afterwards. More on that in http://80000hours.com/.


Build it and they will come? No, ask them if they would use it — in fact ask them if they would buy it right now and for what price — then build it.

Any talk is cheap. Charge them for it as a pre-sale to really lock this down. Give them a reasonable discount if they prepay during the development period, of course, and refund everything if you can't deliver as promised for any reason.


Is it just me or is Medium becoming self-aware? Many of the posts bash the culture Medium is a part of.


Animals are deserving of help and need voices in their defense as well. Even house pets aren't safe.

I just submitted https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6307569 but I don't think it's going to make front page.

Direct link: http://opensuffer.com/

EDIT: Sorry for piggybacking on the post. Important cause though.


I upvoted you not because of the moralistic call to action ("save the pets" is as old and tired as "think of the children") but because it's true: my indoor/outdoor cat was stolen by someone who seemed to then be in process of selling him. The only reason I got him back is because I kept a GPS tracker on his collar for just this reason, and it led me straight to her house. She was very surprised when I showed up at her door.

So yes, it happens and it's very sad. I don't know whether there's anything to be done though. Bad things happen all the time.


Out of curiosity, what did the person have to say once you showed up?

This is effectively kidnapping and should be prosecuted as a felony, really.


I had been wandering around my neighborhood for 48 hours calling my cat's name looking for him after his GPS mysteriously shut off. It was about 2AM and I was walking past his last known location according to the GPS. I called his name and heard him meowing. The meowing was coming from the sunporch of the house at that location. I was so relieved to find him that I went up to the house and opened the door of the sunporch to let him out. Luckily the door was unlocked otherwise I would hav cut the screen to get to him. He was very groggy and his collar was missing. After I got him home I discovered that he had been neutered. I came back the next night and confronted her about it. She wouldn't open the door for me, saying she "never opens the door for anyone she doesn't know." I was recording on my phone but it ran out of space about 8 minutes in. She was obviously guilty but there was no hard evidence and I never pursued the matter. He recently died of the cancer he was born with, and the reason I don't have any kitties is because she neutered him. Otherwise his legacy would have survived, because I was going to breed him and raise his kittens myself. Now all that's left of him are my memories and my photos. I love you scuzzle. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/315/random_pics/scuzzle.JPG


So someone abducted your cat, imprisoned it, mutilated it and... You didn't go to the police?


What was done was done. I looked it up and most legal cases of this type are concerned with awarding property damages. The damages top off at around $2-4k iirc, and that's for special cases like breeder animals (used in the context of a business) being harmed, or show animals. Pretty much any animal that you're making money from, you can get damages for. Society doesn't value pet life like human life, and wasting my time exacting revenge on that worthless excuse of a human wasn't my priority, no. At least I got to spend another 1.5 years with him before he died of cancer.

One argument is that I should have gone to the police to make them think twice about doing this to other cats. But paying $1k worth of damages would not dissuade people like that.


Glad you got your cat back! The GPS collar is a brilliant idea.


It was a Zoombak in case anyone wants to try it (though I haven't used their new model). Their website actually worked on my iPhone, so it was very easy to drive right to where he was and pick him up.


In a world where most people eat meat, I think it is premature to campaign against animal testing. It seems like it aught to be the second problem on the list.

Sure, as seen in Unnecessary Fuss, these experiments can be pretty horrific, and the destruction of all test subjects even after the most minor test feels unnecessary. But the meat industry systematically kills vastly more animals a day. And I don't see vegans marching outside my local McDonalds.


That's a great point. I'm a vegetarian, and I'm that way for compassionate reasons. But animal testing is bigger than people realize, and it's growing - claiming kittens on Craigslist and even house pets playing inside backyards.




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