There’s an interesting initiative happening in a few weeks in California. An organization called Change.org is getting 50 computer programmers (it sounds more exciting to call them hackers) to spend 24 hours developing widgets and apps and all kinds of small software and other magical web things (examples below) for social good.

If you’ve ever thought: “If web browsers did ___, that would make organizing so much easier,” or “if there was a firefox extention that did ___, it would really help people think about zero waste,” you can suggest it to Hack For Change. There’s no guarantee that anyone will work on that project, but there are only 17 ideas so far (and not very many interesting ones). So if you come up with something good, someone might do it.

I haven’t come up with anything yet, but I know there are a lot of creative people on this list! Here are some of the ideas listed so far, as examples:
A Firefox extension that allows you to see the political donations of companies whose site you visit
An app that tells you the true effect/footprint of what you are about to buy (NOTE: someone’s already actually done this at http://www.goodguide.com)
A platform to connect grassroots activists to tangible, needed resources from members of the private sector who want to offer support, but dont know what to give, who to give it to, and how
Help people in developing nations to sell their products directly to the world
Make government data more accessible and actionable
The full list is here: https://hackforchange.uservoice.com/forums/113515-hack-for-change/filters/hot
If you have an idea, please add it here (feel free to email me if you want to talk about it).

Then please tell us so we can go vote for it! To vote you just have to sign up for a password, and then you have 10 votes to distribute to your favorite ideas.

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Article from http://mashable.com/2011/05/25/hack-for-change/
Can 50 Hackers Help Save the World in One Day?

Online activism platform Change.org is hosting a hackathon called Hack for Change, designed to get engineers coding quickly for social good.
Change.org will pick 50 engineers from a list of applicants and throw them into a programming blitz at its San Francisco headquarters. The goal is to get coders, designers and other creative types to start applying their talents to the non-profit and social good sector. While other hackathons have tried to get its talent to think like programmers, Hack for Change is trying to convince programmers to work for social good.

“The smartest people in the world are focused on problems that don’t really matter,” says Ben Rattray, founder of Change.org. “What we want to do is dedicate the time, effort and energy of those people to important issues.”

The event’s rules are simple, if a little vague: “You can create any feature or app that does good.” Participants can hack using any languages or available APIs and must post their code to GitHub. They can hack individually or in teams but teams still must apply — and be accepted — individually. That kind of openness will hopefully inspire off-the-wall ideas thanks to unexpected pairings (not to mention lack of sleep).

Spanning just one weekend, the programming starts June 18 at noon and ends 24 hours later. The finished products will then be presented to the attendees, invited media and judges.

There will be prizes, but that’s not really the point. Hack for Change is aimed at introducing a new community of talent to the non-profit world. Rattray and his team are trying to make the transition as easy as possible by giving social good greenhorns a slew of ideas to get their fingers moving. The conference will start with presentations by non-profits and conscientious companies offering their APIs. There is also a forum where anyone can suggest issues that need fixing.

Change.org is offering $10,000 of its own cash as seed money — $5,000 of which will go to the top project, with the rest to be divvied up amongst the top picks. The hackathon isn’t intended as a one-off; Rattray hopes to make it a regular event. “We want to create a very clear path by which engineers and designers can find full time work in the social change sector,” he says.

What do you think about a hackathon for change? Are designers, programmers and hackers the next wave of talent to revolutionize social good? Let us know in the comments.

Disclosure: Mashable is a media partner of Hack for Change.

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