You don't have to set you mind too far back to think of the homemade hacks created to help others: In March we covered an open-source Kimono lantern created to assist Japanese quake and tsunami victims. Sadly, there will be some genuinely useful open-source hacks that go unnoticed by the masses. So, for those with the passion to tinker and big hearts, there's Random Hacks of Kindness.
Random Hacks of Kindness (RHOK) was set up in 2009 by technology giants such as Google, NASA, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and the World Bank, and is still seemly trying to gain a little bit of traction. The simple aim was to get volunteers creating clever hacks designed to help those in the greatest need. What's most significant is the support structure: If, say, a developer was having issues programming a certain device, there may be other programmers on-hand to help solve the issue.
Projects developed by RHOK volunteers worth a mention include "I'm OK," a text messaging service first used in the Haiti and Chile earthquakes last year to let families know loved ones were safe, and the Google-developed PeopleFinder, a virtual message board used in Haiti, Chile and Japan.
RHOK boasts an impressive 120 active projects , 2000 registrants (160 actual volunteers), and a slate of various conferences and events--such as hack-a-thons--used to raise awareness of the group's efforts. And if you can't attend a particular event, you can always host your own.
If there's one way to really put your own hacking skills to good use, this is it. Check out the video below for an example of Random Hacks of Kindness project PeopleFinder under presentation (audio quality isn't great, so you may need toturn your speakers up):
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