Lately, I've been pondering my purpose here. I just turned 25, and was thinking back to when I was younger. I used to fantasize about being this age, wondering what great things I would have accomplished by now.
Of course, when your young, 25 seems like a dinosaur, closer to 80 than to you at age 10. I was a driven young man, and spent a lot of my time teaching myself the finer points of geekery. I didn't have the internet, so I did what I could -- learning QBasic through the help section, etc.
Looking back, I feel somewhat accomplished -- but not in the way I thought I would be. I was convinced that, by this time, I'd be a multi-billionaire like Bill Gates, making the world safer for democracy, etc...
All kidding aside, I've decided that, at least once in my lifetime, I would like to make a real impact -- not something trivial, but something enormous. I would like to, dare I say it, Change the world (credit to Bill Nye). This new charge will take a great deal of effort, and more time than I think I have. But then, everything worth doing is hard.
When I was first introduced to Open Source software, it seemed like a new world had opened to me. The true power and utility of modern computers can only be realized by the powerful and diverse software available to the community. One of the main features of this software is its ability to run so well on older hardware. It was this realization that generated an "a ha" moment for me.
Computers are a toxic waste -- they contain mercury, lead, and many other harmful metals. And, with the rapid advancement of technology, this waste is building up exponentially. The majority of the time, these are computers that still function, and are merely being thrown away because they are no longer needed.
What if, instead of throwing this computers away, we were to recycle them -- to give them new life, through open source software?! Most of these computers can handle a relatively modern Linux distro. We could donate them to community centers, underprivileged families, schools, and anyone else that can benefit from it. Eventually, we could even begin bringing this technology to children that have never seen it before, in 3rd world countries and impoverished nations.
Some interesting links I found were the National Christina Foundation and the dell computer recycling site. However, neither of these offer O.S. installation. The new organization would take the time to install an open source Linux operating system on these machines, before sending them back for donation.