When it comes to computing, where is the charity?

I’ve been thinking about this concept for some time but finally wanted to write it to down to try and solidify my ideas on the topic. Perhaps my logic is flawed but I guess the point of writing this down is to figure that out. When thinking about computing in general, I’ve noticed the lack of “charity” or help one can get.

First, a little about me. To label myself, I suppose I’m a technology geek. Sure there are plenty of people with more knowledge than myself but I have a pretty good understanding of technology. I’ve used every operating system I could get my hands on from: CP/M, DOS, OS/2, Windows, Solaris, Linux, OS X, etc. My expertise with each is varied but I’m fairly comfortable figuring things on any OS. My primary desktop is currently Linux as is my development and production environments. I love Apple’s OS X but the hardware is a little pricey for me. I’ve had my share of love and hate for Microsoft products but I’m not a “Redmond Hater.” Windows currently just doesn’t fit my requirements.

With that said, I find myself continually helping my friends and family who are not comfortable with technology. I’ve fixed a lot of “hosed” computers riddled with viruses, spyware, and/or adware. With a little of my free time, I’d be more than willing to help random people with their computer woes. If they could afford it, perhaps they could make a little donation to a good cause instead of paying me. If they can’t afford a donation, they could just buy me a coffee. If they can’t afford a coffee, then I’ll just help them, they need the help. I suppose I could meet people in a public place where Internet connectivity is available, say a coffee shop or the library (this works well for laptops, but it’s a little more difficult for desktops…I have to think that through more). Why would I do this and why should you, if you can?

First, we help people with all sorts of things that they can’t help themselves with. From life sustaining things such as food and shelter to public health issues like teaching people about infection diseases to much more trivial issues, we always try to help those who can’t help themselves. There are charities for just about everything out there but why not computing? Additionally, helping people with computing issues can benefit us all:

  • Any decrease in identity theft could lower banking costs for us all
  • Any decrease in fraud (for example from key-loggers that steal credit card numbers) could decrease overall rates/fees
  • Any decrease in bots could decrease unnecessary business costs – which could potentially lower the cost of goods and services
  • Any decrease in viruses could potentially decrease the number of viruses sent to us via email that we need to defend against
  • …the list goes on, but I think you get the idea

When a community park is littered and dirty, volunteers organize to clean it up. Why then do we let our virtual communities remain a dirty mess? I’d love to see this change. Perhaps if there were a method to track all the help (and potentially the number of dollars donated due to the help, etc.) people might be more motivated to help? If there are enough people interested, I’ll throw together a site for people to find computing help, provide a list of charitable organizations for people to donate to, track dollars earned for the charity and stuff like that. It’s times like these, I wish I knew someone who is friends with Oprah. 🙂

If anyone needs some computing help, I can meet you at a coffee shop in San Jose. Drop me an email at eric [at] egoh.com. If you find my help valuable, I’d love to see a small donation to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (http://www.komen.org/).