There are 3 broad categories of software:
- Software that entertains – think games
- Software that solves a problem – think Word/Excel
- Software that impacts humanity
The last category is especially interesting. But what do I mean?
Let me explain.
Consider Facebook. Which category does it fall under?
Category 1? Is it used mostly for entertainment? That’s probably true for how a large set of people use it. But Facebook played a significant role in the revolution in Egypt and in Tunisia and Yemen. Facebook and Twitter were used by people in these countries to coordinate protests and bring about change. That’s real impact.
Here’s another example: Facebook is being used by an anonymous group of volunteers to clean streets in India. They call themselves “The Ugly Indian”. They post before-after pictures after accomplishing a project and share it on Facebook and that encourages others to get involved too. That’s real impact.
We should be working on software that has the potential to transcend into the domain of software that impacts humanity. There’s money in making software that entertains, and there’s money in solving problems with software. But real impact, that is, the kind of impact that changes the direction in which humanity is going happens when the software helps large sets of people achieve what they aspire to achieve, work with each other, and have a realistic shot at their dreams.
That’s the kind of software we should dream of building.