Developers to save the world

The Hadoop Summit that was hosted a couple of months ago in Brussels, had one presentation that definitely stood out: the one by futurist and commentator Ben Hammersley. 

"We won. Now we have a problem”. 

He’s addressing the audience, that’s mainly filled with developers, programmers and data scientists. And indeed, 10 or 20 years ago computer nerds were considered as … well, nerds. Today they are hip.

BUT. There’s a problem. The people ruling the world don’t understand the language developers and programmers speak. And it’s not just the rulers of this world that don’t understand them: it’s the entire group of ‘normal’ people. Which developer can say his family understands his job?

However, you shouldn’t underestimate the ‘normal’ people either. After all, they have gotten used to a high level of technological intimacy. Think about how many people own a smartphone these days. It is said that by 2020 80% of people on this planet will own a smartphone, imagine that! In 2013 Harvard research discovered the “phantom vibration syndrome”. They say that 98% of people that have owned a smartphone for longer than 1 year, have already experienced this syndrome: feeling your phone vibrate in your pocket while it’s not. 48% even felt their smartphone vibrating in their pocket… whilst holding it in their hand. That’s technological intimacy, so you understand why ‘normal’ people aren’t completely alienated from what the developer community is doing.

At the same time our world is faced with some serious problems: global warming, poverty, viruses, wars,... and unfortunately we can go on for a while. Ben Hammersley believes developers may be able to help solve these problems. The only thing is: the world’s leaders and ‘normal’ people have no idea, since they don’t understand a thing of what developers are doing. He goes even further: people don’t trust developers because they don’t understand them.

Hammersley sends the developer community home with a mission: make themselves understandable. Try to communicate - in clear language - about what it is they are doing and can do. When you manage to explain it, people will embrace it and look to you to help solve problems in which technology might really make a difference.

Good luck!