For anyone interested in the intersection between tech and the refugee crisis.
tl,dr; instead of spending your cycles building fun things or frivolous apps, volunteer your time to online work sites that circuitously move money around to help refugees.
I’m going to be a bit negative here, but I’ll do so by asking questions:
It’s cool that people want to help others, but I dislike thoroughly this sort of feelgood effort.
EDIT: Even if we’re civil, I’m betting the discussion that’ll be in this thread should be reflective of why we should be mindful about bringing political topics onto Lobsters.
Yeah, I think this is OT for lobsters but felt like chucking it here anyway because the hackathon problem in the refugee crisis is a serious waste of time and effort and it’s worth a bit of general awareness. Techfugees proves this point - a massive movement of feelgood ‘tech for good’ that has done measurably incredibly little compared to the hype and manpower it managed to gather.
Your tl;dr isn’t very accurate - particularly you’re not correct to snipe at the idea of ‘circuitous’ routing of money. By far, if you can not physically assist on the ground with a real need of a human, the second best thing you can do is route money to someone who is on the ground, and that’s the point here: don’t try to assist with tech from afar, using methodologies that just don’t work, but do whatever you want and provide your assistance through transfer of funds. And this really is the meat of why the ‘feelgood’ thing is as you say so repugnant: there is doing something that has measurable impact (requires deep design, followup, iterative development), and there is doing something that you have no idea has impact, but makes you feel good (building your shitty refugee app in a hackathon weekend that you never see again). Nearly no one in the tech response to the refugee crisis understands or will face up to the difference.
Personally don’t think there’s any value in addressing the political questions here (who should I help, how, when, why should I help them), that’s entirely personal, your decision of who in your life you support is nothing to judge or feel judged about.
My POV is from being in the middle of the refugee crisis in Greece, and working ‘on the ground’ in various ways, always face to face with the people the work is for, and rarely on work that does not have direct impact.
Ah, gotcha! Thank you for your writeup here.
Would you mind if I continued poking your brain about this over PM? I don’t want to clutter up public areas with it.
sure, as you like :)