Can Software Engineers Initiate Positive Change in All Parts of the World?

October 29, 2018


All human beings crave a sense of meaning. Maslow, with his pyramid, shows us that once we have met our basic needs, we start to work to meet our psychological needs. We want to belong and be recognized. Furthermore, we also want that sense of accomplishment. For many software engineers and people in the software business, this sense of meaning may be lost. In a world where globalization brings us closer to the needs of all the people around the world, we see that many people around the world are still struggling to meet basic needs. How can we help, how can we be recognized by the people around us - how can we become self-aware? How can we feel we have made our mark on the world and made it a better place? As these thoughts are going through my head, I ask myself how a single person can have an impact. How can software engineers initiate positive change in all parts of the world solely with a screen and a keyboard?

Maslow Pyramid


Making an impact

In order to make an impact, you have to have reach. Just like Paul Revere who helped start the American Revolution by leveraging his broad network, someone who wants to change things needs to be able to impact a lot of people. Today the world is quite different, people no longer ride their horses around the country. People communicate using telecommunications media and the internet. Actually, a lot of people do.

Internet Penetration

Today, there are 4.5 billion humans on the Internet. This represents more than 55% of the world population. In North-America and Europe, humans that are not “connected" some way or another are the exception. In Africa and Asia, the numbers are lower. However, the reality is that in these continents, the demographics are quite different. In Africa, 41% of the population is under 15 years old. These kids may not have the means to be connected, but as they grow up and become independent, they will most probably acquire a mobile device. I think if we look 10-15 years out, the penetration will be tremendous across the whole globe and we can expect to be able to reach a large chunk of the human population. What is important to point out is that the internet has evolved to be a lot more than just a communication media. Today, it is a delivery platform for software. SAAS has replaced traditional software packages - and software companies are now delivering complete solutions to their customers using the internet.

While Paul Revere was a simple silversmith, can simple software engineers have the same kind of impact? Well, the means of delivering the message to the whole world is there. If the revolution was to happen tomorrow, it would have been a very short night for Paul to relay his message to all of his connections. But it goes a lot further. Now it's possible for software engineers who want to create something great have the reach to do so. It’s not just about spreading a message, but spreading solutions to help people. The keyboard and the screen are now a window to the world that can be leveraged for impact - hopefully for the good of humankind. It’s a great time to be a software engineer!

This blog post is the first part of a more philosophical series that explores the world we live in and the choices we make to build great and impactful products. @ NetGovern, we have chosen to help organizations around the world with information governance, enabling them to make sense of, and protect the masses from, all the information thrown at them.

1. Can Software Engineers Initiate Positive Change in All Parts of the World?

2. The overextension of Moore’s law – A problem for current and future innovators

3. Do storage costs go down faster than data accumulates? – Busting the cheap storage myth