Simple Applications Change The World

When someone dreams of being a ‘software developer’ or ‘programmer’ (or whatever the other ill-defined terms are for someone who creates software), they imagine someone highly intelligent someone solving complex algorithms that will solve the {{ world.generateRandomProblem() }} crisis for humanity and make this world a better place. At least that’s what I thought.

Not everyone is a ‘change-the-world’ kinda guy, but I’ve found myself to be one. Whether I found myself walking the busy corporate streets of Johannesburg, visiting family in Uganda or being transported into a place I’ve never been through a book I’m reading, I can’t help but think of ideas of how things can be done better with the skillset I have. And most of these ideas are simple applications that create and store information, and display processed information for simplicity.

Think about it. All the ‘amazing’ innovations in web technology over the past few years have been simple applications. Facebook started as an application where someone signs up, makes posts, and makes friends with other people. This has obviously increased in complexity, but it must have started off with a few database tables, a web interface and something in the middle. The same thing applies to Instagram. WhatsApp just sends messages between devices. This all isn’t overly complex. Yet they have completely changed the way we live our lives.

Maybe, if more people spent time looking for simple easy solutions to everyday challenges, and build on top of those, this country (South Africa), this continent and this world could be so much more advanced.

Here are some simple ideas. These may be dumb ideas. And there may be an infinite number of reasons why they can’t work. But they are ideas.

  • In rural places, where the aren’t defined municipal addresses, someone could start a ‘verification agency’ which stores addresses based on GPS co-ordinates. Find a way to make money off this.
  • Create a user-generated database for African language song lyrics. Similar to rap genius. Have a way to buy the music from the site, where the producer can set the price for their digital content (instead of other sites where they determine the price for you).
  • Have a site which is a user-generated directory of shops, businesses and service-providers within geographical locations. Users can write reviews, give recommendations etc. Businesses can take ‘ownership’ of the pages and sell products and give promotions on their ‘page’.

Those are some simple ideas off the top of my head. Like I said, there may be millions of reasons why they can’t / won’t work. There may also be one reason why they could.

Do you have any ideas?

Patrick Kayongo

I create and maintain software. Pan-African.

Johannesburg, South Africa