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Programming Government United States Technology

Code For America: 'The Peace Corps For Geeks' 58

rjmarvin writes "Cities are taking coding to the streets through projects like Code for America and CityNext, working with governments on multiple levels to better serve constituents with mobile and cloud technologies. The 'Peace Corps for geeks' is using technology to make everyday life in cities run more smoothly, providing a way to 'connect technologists and designers with their government to solve important problems and reimagine how government could work.'"
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Code For America: 'The Peace Corps For Geeks'

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  • Geekcorps? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @02:17PM (#44725365)

    Worth a mention: []

  • Fixed that for you.

    Although I don't believe it.

    • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @02:53PM (#44725577)

      I know you're being sarcastic here, and let me say -- I Approve. But, beneath sarcasm is usually a helping of truth and what you say is no different.

      We laughed our collective asses off so hard we pissed ourselves when Gen Y tried Kony 2012 [] on Facebook and Youtube as a way to solve the problems of mass genocide in a third world country. Yup. They actually believed that copy-pasting a video clip and some crappy mspaint-edited bitmaps was going to lick that whole 'world peace' thing.

      And now we're having "Code for America"... and suddenly everyone's acting all serious about it. The government doesn't need to be "reimagined". It needs to be rebuilt. It's got way too many defective components -- corrupt politicians, rich people who build massive computer networks for the sole purpose of targeted advertising (Obama and Romney both did. Obama succeeded; Romney imploded on the launch pad -- so I don't wanna hear anything about conservatives or liberals blah blah. They both did it. Deal.), we've got a bill under consideration in Congress where the only way anyone feels comfortable voting for it is if they're promised their vote will be anonymous until after they're dead, because it could affect the interests of the people who fund campaigns. I mean, guys, if this isn't a red flag, I don't know what is.

      At all levels of government, there is stark and obvious signs of corruption -- your vote is largely meaningless. You're being asked to choose between Candidate A; "I am for those things which Candidate B is only slightly less enthusiastic about", and Candidate B; "I am in favor of things slightly different than that of Candidate A!" ... It's like choosing between coffee dispensed from the left pot, or coffee dispensed from the right pot. It's the same. Fucking. Coffee.

      And everyone knows this. No amount of "reimagining" or "clouding the intarwebs" is going to fix this. In fact, the only way to achieve the ambitious goals these people think a few ipads will accomplish is mass armed insurrection. I'm talking bullets, bodies, military tanks crushing people's houses, fire, looting... all that shit. But peacefully talking about it over (wait for it)... the internet? Please.

      I don't know how much clearer I can be on this point:

      You can't solve people problems with technology.

      You solve people problems with people.

      The end.

      • I don't disagree with anything you say.

        The whole "thing" reminds me of how the children in the old "Our Gang" film shorts (this is the 30s and 40s kids!) would "solve" problems. They would get together after they learned Miss Crabtree (the antecedent for Mrs. Crabapple in the Simpsons) was losing her job or some such thing. They could never figure out what to do BUT they ultimately decided they could put on a variety show to raise money for... whatever. They think by doing anything they are doing something.

      • And in fact my daughter and I have been having this same conversation lately. I'm actually happy she's a philosophy major.

        • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @03:34PM (#44725801)

          And in fact my daughter and I have been having this same conversation lately. I'm actually happy she's a philosophy major.

          Your daughter, probably the same age as my sister. I wrote this to her, and by extension, her generation, not long ago. I'm reposting it here as free to share, provided you properly attribute it to me;

          Dear Younger Generation,
          I'm from the generation that created your ipads, and your internet, and your webpages. I was around before the internet (which to you, is probably the same as saying I was around before the last dinosaurs died out), before cell phones, and I know that the "save icon" used to be a real thing -- they were called floppies. They were like pen drives, only flatter, and easier to break.
          So when I talk about technology, I hope you listen. I know you won't, like I didn't listen to my parents, and my parents didn't listen to /their/ parents, and so on. I know the majority of you haven't matured to the point to see the continuity between generations, that you are just one link in a very long chain. But that's okay. This message isn't for you today. This is a message for you to seal up in a bottle and forget about it for a few years... until it's time.
          The message is this:
          You cannot solve people problems with technology. If you have a problem with the world, you have to get out there, with other people, and do something about it. Not on the internet. Not on Facebook. Not on Twitter. In the street. In people's homes. At the grocery store. Wherever the problem is you want to fix, that's where you need to be, not in this abstract world my generation has created for you.
          We made this to be a tool to help you understand the world you're living in. To give it context and meaning, because we spent our lives confused and awestruck by how fast humanity was moving. It really is the dawn of a new era, and we have provided the first tools for the generations to come to orientate themselves in it. We know you're going to do more than any generation has. That's a given. That is the benefit of youth -- and this was our contribution, our link in the chain. Someday, it'll be a footnote just the same as the invention of the printing press was. And that's okay. We don't know what your link will be, your contribution; That is your journey. Every generation is born anew with the same potentialities, unjaded, fresh.
          But don't let this marvelous new invention, this new reality we have created, blind you to the deeper universal truths. Do not let them dampen and absorb your creative energies, and thereby weaken the case for further change. This was meant to be a tool to better understand the world we live in, not as an escape from it, or a substitution. You are still needed out there. This is a place to share your dreams, but it cannot fulfill them.
          You are not meant to live here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The only solution to bad government is NO goverment. We need to shrink the size of government till it fits in a bathtub and then DROWN whats left. Only by freeing the true power of the free market can mankind truly be saved.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some small things will get done if they take money from people who would do better stuff and use it to do stuff that these central planners think of, but really the reason the Peace Corps can do some good is that most of the work requires minimal training; if they get a bunch of post-high-school kids who think they can code but don't have any ideas for their own better projects, they're not going to get a very good product out of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Coding Corps?"

    Sure! Solve the worlds problems and feed the poor, unshackle the chains of oppression!

    With some code!


  • And you think the horde of government IT contractors making millions off this line of work are just going to abide by this?
  • At best it's AmeriCorps for geeks. Peace Corps is a much different level of commitment. There are geeks in the Peace Corps, so really, Peace Corps is already "Peace Corps for geeks".

  • And even if it produced useful stuff that worked well, it would stop dead when the patent trolls got involved.
  • I fail to understand how anyone could live in downtown san francisco on $35K for 11 months. Additionally are they doing some type of student loan forgiveness for participating in this program? Why would any programmer want to do this?
  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:20PM (#44726389) Homepage

    Why? Because:

    1) "cloud", it's usually nothing but a vendor lock in
    2) executed by companies with no interested in empowering the community

    The people will not get better by these projects. Remember: the government is there to serve the people.

  • The self-imposed American government of the (The North) is not very respected among the people with more than half a brain. No money, no free work. I guess that smart coders would rather code for the world in an open source way, instead of coding for one corrupt system that is breaking their lives in numerous ways. Why Shouldn't I Work for the NSA? (Good Will Hunting) []
  • taking coding to the streets

    Most of us call that "getting fired".

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal