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Random Hacks of Kindness, a grassroots effort of problem solvers looking to find powerful-yet-inexpensive solutions to major problems, is now underway worldwide. Originally brought together in 2009 by the combined resources of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and the World Bank, RHoK draws from a very deep pool of talent beyond those founding organizations.

"RHoK works by bringing together experts in development and volunteers with a broad set of skills in software development and design. The goal is to produce practical open source solutions to development problems." CNN covers the latest gatherings here.

The open-source movement is best known for its work in assembling major software projects (such as Linux). But open-source advocates have become increasingly involved in trying to solve practical, real-world problems beyond the field of software alone -- for example, the OpenFarmTech project, which strives to put open-source designs for all major farm and manufacturing devices into the public's hands, so that "the means of production" can be owned by all.

Global Village Construction Set in 2 Minutes from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

Such efforts can seem ambitious, but such is the power of innovative thinking and the leveraging of minds from around the world that many global problems can be addressed by these conferences. Local problems, on the other hand, are proving to be very well understood by people committed to dealing with them in those locations, and hence workable solutions emerge to deal with each region's specific, relevant problems. And given the skills mobilized at each assemblage to target these issues, solutions can not only be found, but put into practice.

Here are a couple of brief videos showing some of the problems targeted by local Random Hacks of Kindness projects in Philadelphia and Toronto.

RHoK Philadelphia...

RHoK Toronto...

More videos can be found at RHoK's site.

(Yes, the above is from my blog, Future Imperative.)

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