Let’s Use Technology To Solve Real Problems

I wrote in the past that most of what we see in the technology space is useless, and people that are supposedly so smart are ignoring problems that will have and are having an enormous impact on society (energy, peak oil and climate change).

Perhaps this blog is starting to influence the culture. I saw a couple of articles on Business Insider that spoke to this point.

One is an interview with the COO of the credit card processor Square.
Want to recruit great people in a talent crunch? Solve a real problem. “We have a mission of helping local businesses thrive so that they can grow their businesses so that they can hire people so that they can help the U.S. economy. It’s not social gaming — that’s a very good business, it can be a very creative exercise for the people who work there, but it’s not clear that it has any societal impact, and if it does it may be negative.”

Another article was called “Our Best Entrepreneurs Should Be Solving Real Problems, Not Sitting Around Creating Apps”  by Steve Faktor. The title of the article on the author’s website is “How Killing the Angry Bird Will Save American Entrepreneurship.” I might get his book.  (Warning: His website is not very good. It takes a long time for each page to load. It looks like he has a LOT of widgets and add-ons.)

Faktor mentions solar panels in his article. There is not a whole lot in these articles about energy and climate change, but it is nice to know that I am not the only person who is skeptical about the utility of the social-mobile-game-app-widget nexus. What I do not understand is why all the VCs in the Valley who think they are so smart and think they can see around corners ever supported all this junk. So maybe they made a lot of money. But if we do not handle our energy problems, all these VCs will be kings of nothing.

For a bunch of people with advanced degrees, people in the Valley sound just as provincial as people in poor small towns. Hillbillies with diplomas are still hillbillies. I keep reading articles and seeing videos of all these people saying that entrepreneurs should solve real problems. When will they start funding solutions to real problems?

The big news yesterday in tech was that Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion.  People say that Facebook needed to buy Instagram because the “problem” that Instagram solves is that using Facebook’s iPhone and Android apps you have to go through five or six screens to upload photos from your phone. But with Instagram you only need to go through one screen.

If my apartment building does not have electricity, I have a problem.

If my apartment building does not have water, I have a problem.

If the food does not get from the farm to the grocery store four blocks away, I have a problem.

If the CTA shuts down, I have a problem.

If Facebook goes under, I do not have a problem.

Post created on 2012-04-10_15:09:40, last modified on 2012-07-19_23:39:14

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