I've enjoyed it, but I'm pretty jaded by the usual stuff. A job with social impact--something that makes someone's life better--would be the right thing for me now.
Any thoughts on convenient ways to find these? Some sort of board or listing?
Sunlight Foundation http://sunlightfoundation.com/jobs/
Code for America http://codeforamerica.org/
Engineers Without Borders http://www.ewb-usa.org/
Nexleaf Analytics http://nexleaf.org/contact-us
But I'm wondering if there is some sort of job listing or board that brings together all the salaried jobs (sorry, gotta eat), that help humanity directly in some way.
This is their mission statement:
"Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
Idealist is independent of any government, political ideology, or religious creed. Our work is guided by the common desire of our members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect."
Edit: You'll most definitely want to avoid the big organisations. Also, right now you could join about any NGO and get sent to the Philippine, small NGOs usually work as meritocracy. And networking is key in this field.
Telecoms Sans Frontieres http://tsfi.org
Raising political awareness and transparency
Defending rights in the information age
Alternative fundraising: helping the little guy raise money
Facilitating online activism campaigns
On the less philanthropic end of things, there are a host of organizations solving problems in the biomedical world. From hospitals to biotech companies, there are many possibilities. I've found working in this space incredibly fulfilling, especially given that I've had a chance to see patient cases where we can make a difference.
And yes, biomed is a good space to do well while doing good.
You won't get rich, but you'll have money left over after paying your bills.
To promote long, healthy and productive lives for persons with organ failure by promoting maximized organ supply, effective and safe care, and equitable organ allocation and access to transplantation.
To advance organ availability and transplantation by uniting and supporting its communities for the benefit of patients through education, technology and policy development.
The danger of skipping this process of thinking for yourself is that you may spend many years in a direction that you may ultimately feel dissatisfied with. That's how conditioning works : parents, teachers, and society teach you what is "good" and "bad" and you basically choose the red pill or blue pill without realizing that there could be pills of many other colours (or that you could swallow BOTH the red and blue pills and go, "Hmm..that's interesting...", as one cartoon based on "The Matrix" shows! :-) )
There are several alternative directions that your thoughts could flow in once you start this introspection. Just as an example : by society, you probably mean, "the society of humans". Why are humans the only society to be helped? Isn't all evidence pointing to the fact that we are killing off the planet, including several species A DAY? Maybe the rest of Earth needs your positive energies more?
- have as much private insurance as you need
- are debt-free
- can provide for yourself & your family upon retirement
Being financially independent is the greatest gift you can give to those who depend upon you, & to the rest of the society in which you live.
I work at Knewton (not as a software engineer, though we have many of those) because it seems so obvious once I thought about the state of formal education on this planet and how far we can take it.
Knewton is an education technology company quietly laying the groundwork for a future full of digital educational materials (lessons, quizzes, MOOCs, mobile apps, etc.) that offer differentiated learning experiences driven by deep personalization. We've built an adaptive learning infrastructure that will power any learning environment.
The core teams are mixtures of software engineers, data scientists, and teaching experts developing the world's leading models of how students learn and how to help them.
We can predict a student's quiz score before they take it. We can predict whether someone is on target to finish in four months based on all content, possible paths, and a history of student data to compare against. We can recommend the next 5-minute activity that most efficiently moves a student toward a learning objective set by a teacher in a third-party learning product. We can sift through wrong answers to determine whether a student lacks proficiency, disengaged, forgot, or simply encountered a poorly formed question. And we're just getting started.
Education -- K12, higher ed, language teaching, vocational training, professional certification, adult learning -- is one of the biggest industries in the world. We are already partnered with some of the world's biggest names, including Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Cambridge University Press, and more.
Now, before you down vote me consider they have been instrumental in making knowledge accessible that generally just couldn't be found. They're likely to be on the leading of eliminating most traffic deaths with their self driving cars, and they're providing free Internet to the world with Loon.
Big and successful companies across the industry are doing great things and having amazing social impacts.
You can't presume that the exploited-away surplus-value or negative externalities from your high-paying-donate-to-charity job actually exceed the good you're doing by donating to charity with the proceeds of your work. Warm fuzzies are, at the very least, a reasonable guide to doing work that's relatively sure to be relatively purer good.
I'm just saying.
We've got jobs in medical research, green energy, and others.
I'd say that writing open source is another kind of positive social impact. You can do that in your spare time, but if you can do it on the job, all the better.
Jobs that help humanity should be touting it directly -- a major selling point.
I'll see what good stuff I find there.
If I can make a suggestion, if you can get a sense for what cause(s) you care about most (education? health delivery? poverty alleviation? something else?) and start to explore the organizations serving those causes, you'll certainly find your way to a job posting here or there for an organization that truly excites you. And excitement is what makes a good match when you're doing work that makes the world a better place. Good luck.
(edited for grammar)
An early stage human rights start-up (the founder has just spent five years at another human rights startup which he helped setup and is now a market leader) in East London (still in the fun garage shed stage!), is looking for a mobile app developer or CTO. (Also people with associated skills such as LAMP, UI/UX, HTML5, etc would be great)
The start-up focuses on addressing a significant gap in the security of human rights organisations, journalists and activists - through the use of a web and mobile application. It builds on years of cutting-edge security operations in this field.
With the product features and business plan nearly complete we are looking for the right person to bring us to the next technical stage. Ideally you will be in London but remote working is also a possibility.
Interested? Drop a mail to email@example.com
For example, we run a CSE (comparison shopping engine) that, while it is a successful commercial project, we like to also see as helping society by saving people time and money (or, if you're into class warfare, distributing wealth from merchants to customers) and also giving smaller merchants a fair chance to compete against huge advertising budgets.
In the same way, some other projects help society by breaking existing cartels (e.g. taxi apps in cities like Vienna where taxi dispatch fares are extremely expensive and basically negotiated between a few large providers).
On the other hand, there may be projects that pretend to help society by educating about various issues, but in fact are pure marketing web sites with the aim to promote particular vendors.
So if you cannot find anything NGO-related (with acceptable pay!), look for commercial projects that help society in a broader sense.
I think working on open source software within a suitable good cause niche would be a good fit. I can't really think of any examples where you could easily find a paying role, but I'm personally inspired by projects like Open Source Ecology, Open Street Map and Wikipedia. I work in the library world, where I try to use and contribute to open source software whenever possible. It's not revolutionary, but it's okay.
In the meantime you could volunteer as a programmer - it's a niche that is growing rapidly.
http://socialcoder.org (UK based but international)
Disclosure: I run it
Edit: Fixed the link
Impact Engine - http://theimpactengine.com/
Greenstart - http://greenstart.com/
Hub Ventures - http://hub-ventures.com/
Hope this helps!
 - http://www.donorschoose.org/jobs
By "natural" products I mean organic food, fair-trade products, allergen-free products, green products, and so on. There is a lot of money being made in these markets right now, but it's undeniable that many of these products help some people lead better lives (even if it's just the ability to eat a wider range of foods without worrying about e.g. gluten contamination).
I have a BSCS and I work in SWQA for a medical device manufacturer. Most of us carry around patient testimonials in our badge pouches that were given to us when we hired in. The testimonials can be overwhelming when you really think about them.
If you were going to code here, you'd want to be good at C++ on embedded systems. There are probably other technologies at other places.
Peoples' lives are often literally saved by what I work on, and at least vastly improved. It feels pretty good, and helps keep my head straight when I have the inevitable encounter with BigCo administrative nonsense that goes with the territory.
tldr: I don't know.
Actively Learn (activelylearn.com)
Moving Worlds (movingworlds.org)
http://www.khanacademy.org/careers or email me at alpert+HN@khanacademy.org if you have any questions.
It'd not software-specific, but they've got lot of "escape corporate life" jobs (with a focus on the UK).
Compare with getting into ecommerce and working with some small businesses that don't yet sell online. For example, suppose you team up with a business in the Himalayas that sells genuine Tibetan Monkey Stones to passing tourists that just so happen to be newly wed. Put their business online so that people all over the world can buy traditional Tibetan Monkey Stones for friends getting married. Get the orders in, make people happy on their special day, help some business get more than passing trade, potentially to grow and take on new employees, everyone is a winner. No inane fundraisers needed.
There's this really popular show called Breaking Bad that revolves around the main characters' heroic efforts to do this.
After wrapping up other projects I want to begin work on "Carpoolians.com". It'll allow anyone to enter their morning & evening commutes to work and the site will match them up with others around them who are along their route and have the same schedule so they can carpool together.
Sounds dangerous? So is cleaning the gutters and walking under coconut trees but people still do it. In fact Carpoolians is loosely based on Washington D.C.'s Slug lines (hitch a ride with strangers so you can both use the HOV lanes and not be late for work). http://www.slug-lines.com/Slugging/About_slugging.asp Hundreds of thousands have hitched rides with strangers with no oversight what-so-ever and there haven't been any muggings or homicides. And this is in Washing D.C. (double the national crime rate).
Users can enter their pick up time, general locations, return time, weather they're looking for a driver or a passenger or either, and which days of the week they need carpool services. The site will match them up from a list of potential drivers or passengers and they can make a decision based on price and their gut feeling. Trips are paid in cash peer to peer. But the site will keep an evidence trail of who's riding with whom. Members can certify themselves so they have a "clean background" aka no criminal history icon next to their picture.
Because it's peer to peer so you don't have to worry about taxi cab regulations like Uber does, but we also don't have revenue other than government and city grants. There's plenty of other startups like ridejoy.com doing transportation but they just do 1 trip. Carpoolians will focus exclusively on commutes (re-occuring trips) which make up the bulk of traffic.
It's not twitter or facebook but you can feel good knowing you can:
- Reduce emissions which lead to asthema and lung desease (people living near highways & busy roads have increased risk of both including death!).
- Reduced traffic accidents and saved lives.
- Improve productivity and save time helping the economy.
- Reduce pedestrian hits and deaths (2007-2012 over 5,700 pedestrians were hit in Orlando Florida alone.)
- Help low income people get to work without having to wait in the rain for buses.
- Helped people save money, wear & tear on their car.
- Help clear more parking spots!
- reduce government waste spent on driving empty buses back and forth (buses get about 6 miles per gallon) My mother works as a bus operator. Believe me, there is a LOT of waste. Public Transit can be an extremely ineffective, expensive, and inefficient method to transport people. Especially outside of dense cities like San Fran, Chicago, and New York.
If 4 people sign up and use Carpoolians that's 2 cars off the road each rush hour. If 150 people sign up and use the service that's about 70 cars off the road during morning and evening rush hour. It adds up very easily. http://www.howwedrive.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/cars-bu... and makes a HUGE difference in communities.
My contact info can be found in my HN profile. As you can tell I've got a few loose ends to tie up with some other projects that I'm finishing up.
I've done the finance thing, and it's got its good side. But now, I want to see how I can help more directly. And yes, it's possible.
We hackers are sustained by WILLPOWER, even when mocked as reckless and crazy! If there's a wall in our way, we smash it down! If there isn't a path, we carve one ourselves!