Notes on Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility has become a main topic on many business environments, i think it’s only behind making money and ecology.

Many people that has access to a relatively privileged life  like me, many of my friends and almost for sure you, also wonders on how to help and payback to society.

After many hours of thought and lessons learned I came up to the following conclusion. Even if we can do donation or projects like www.never-more.org the very first line of action is: “”Work at a good job and do it good”".  With this I mean  that the best way to be socially responsible as a corporation or contribute to society as an individual is by their daily work. If what you for living helps society then you help while you work. If by the contrary you do something nocive to make your living it doesn’t mater how many good things you do afterwards you wont be even making even.

Well the following is an extract about the topic, I wrote, on a email to the organizers of a wonderful innovation contest at which I went about a year and a half ago.


For what I listen on the conferences your facing “Companies Social Responsibility” in the same way big corporations do. This is give: respect and good salaries to your employees, promote donations and activities with the community, but only from other companies that are socially responsible”, etc.

That’s fantastic there’s a huge step from nothing to that, those are things that most certainly be done. But doing so it’s easy to avoid the main subject. The big corporations may avoid the main topic because it’s against their immediate business, but organizations like YABT or the OEAS may do so just because you are following the big corporations lead on the matter.

So what’s this main topic? The main topic is what does a company does, which is its business, it’s propose.

I have to confess I haven’t read a single word about “Company’s social responsibilities”. But I have thought about the topic since I was a kid many years before trying to establish my first business or I heard the term “socially responsible company”. Common good has obsessed me since then. Despite my lack of reading I have tough thousands of hours on the topic and I do have seen lot’s conferences, and TV shows about it.

There are many ways of human’s organizations a companies are a particular ones that have as base principle make money, but good companies usually have another objective. I bet you all know those famous words mission and vision that must be on very business plan. Well that objective or mission must be the very first step on Social Responsibility. A company must devote to their mission. To be social responsible there’s no need of foundations or gathering the employees to do charity it’s more than enough to do a good a thing, doing it by doing good and trade it making fair deals. Let me explain:

A company may decide to provide:







Things that benefit society one way or another, this are good things.

For example now I do web systems, I konow that a well done web system will help people find info fast and more effectively, so I’ll be helping society even if I charge for the program. I’m doing something that helps society.

Depending on the twisted mind of each entrepreneur or business man even things like making cigarettes or as wrong as it may seems making weapons may be seen as good. Good and bad people may use phrases that for me are a complete mistaken. I’m protecting freedom and justice OR guns don’t kill, people do- may come around, to justify anything as good. It may be the case that they pronouncer’s are actually good and convinced people.

Here is where it comes good doing theme. Ok let’s say that as I saw in conference in the Monterrey Worlds forum a year or so ago. British American Tobacco what’s to be a socially responsible company so they give found to the Social Responsible Companies foundation (or something like that) they do give good payment to their employees and they even pay computers for local schools. But………. come on, …. they are selling a soft but after all very lethal and toxic drug. Their main activity damages society, we just need to check the deaths related to smoking to notice it. So we should tell them: You a Social Responsible Company (please excuse me for the language) mi ASS.

But let’s be more flexible and we let pass an argument like: We are actually only fulfilling the needs of those who have chosen to smoke and we benefit them because they prefer to live the pleasure of smoking than not taking the health risks that it implies. So in a strange and relative way someone can say they are making some people happier and therefore doing a good thing. Ok but where there’s no escape is on the doing it by dosing good part.

A socially responsible company would not increase the number of addictive substances on their cigarettes, nor they would do all possible things to associate cigarettes with getting laid on the consumers mind nor…….. Their efforts should focus on maintain the flavor and pleasure of cigarettes reducing its harm but o surprise they actually do all the way around. So it doesn’t matter what other things they do they are not a socially responsible company.

Institutes and writers that are financed by these companies don’t talk about this do a good thing and doing it doing good because their sponsors don’t want them to (and those precise words are mine). But if we avoid this thinking we are just fooling around and wasting resources.

SMEs can bas good or bad intentioned as big companies but you have the chance to look at their missions and behavior and promote those that will really benefit the society by merely doing what they want to do. A company with a good mission must only focus on doing their business good to help the society. Think for example about all the advantages you have in your cell phone the next time to send a SMS. The better the cell Phone company works the better prices coverage and reliability their cell phones will have and the more people will be able to communicate easily. We don’t want them using money on another good cause, communication is more than enough.

Filed under: Education, SMEs

The QWERTY efect

As many things that seem random the order of the keys on the computer keyboards (at least the more popular ones in USA and Mex) is not. But against common sense it’s not made  to simplify typewriting but to make it harder.

The QWERTY keyboards are named so because  -q-, -w-, -e-, -r-, -t-, e  -y- are the firsts 6 characters of the first character row. This has been so since the mechanical type writers times. It turns out that the original typewriters keyboard layout allowed faster writing than the qwerty ones and the mechanisms of that time couldn’t keep the phase. There fore to avoid the constant jamming of type writers the qwerty layout was designed and popularized .

I believe this history encloses some valueble lessons. To begin with it teaches us to leave aside perfection and adapt to the possibilities to achieve  things. with out the qwerty layout it’s very likely that typewrites have never become popular (who like a machine that jams when it does what it is intended to do) and this would have a affected many things like science, literature, mail, etc. just think of the impact  that means writing faster and with clear and homogeneous charterers.

Never the lees the phenomena I’ll like to baptize as the qwerty effect refers to something negative and its the tendency to inherit solutions of the past as valid without reevaluate them. I’m talking about the things we do because they have always been done that way. The really valid reasons to do the qwerty layout are not applicable to the circumstances since decades ago, but most of keyboards are still qwerty. We invest millions of resources on improving PCs and millions of man hours learning to use software to be more productive but for some weird reason we still use qwerty keyboards.

This QWERTY effect that consists on attach to and take as valid solutions which circumstances or motivations are not longer  current or valid happen ant many levels, from large societies to small more defines groups and individuals. I invite you to think about the qwerty effects in your life, you’ll find that a small effort to change will bring you great benefits.



The unstudied effect of Internet.

I rescued this post form a previous blog.

—————The unstudied effect of Internet.

A lot has been told about Internet’s effects on human life and societies. Web 2.0 has increased a bit more this fascination on the power of the WEB. Very revealing and fantastic thoughts and observations are made around these topics. Threw the WEB people are communicating like never before, this phenomenon has triggered new ways of developing software, sharing ideas, having fun, etc.

As a professional web developer I’ve found myself in the middle of several discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of this arising technology. I to think it’s really fantastic to have the thousand times discussed access to the information, typing on Google about virtually any topic and most of time being able to found useful information about it is fantastic. I do think it’s great that “any  body” or at least those with internet access can post a video on YouTube and eventually have more public than big TV stations. I do enjoy reading blogs from people around the world. Etc. I use Wikipedia on every topic I unknown almost as much as Google. But besides all this terrific things I always add and argument to the conversation that as far as I can tell has not been not properly observer nor discussed.

The more evident effects of the web are related to the amount of information and its sources this is really valuable but there’s and other effect as important as been heard and access information.  It’s the effect of having people realize that they can think and have a voice. Watching internet as only as an information and communication phenomena a blog with thousands of visitors and accurate and meaningful post for those visitors may be more valuable than a blog with no visitors (like this one at the time this was posed) but both may have triggered a very similar event on the bloggers mind. They had have to ask themselves, what do I have to tell? Similar things occur if people have to create a Facebook or LinkedIn profile or even evaluating a product at Amazon. People are benign encouraged to THINK ABOUT THEM SELVES IN RELATION WITH OTHER PERSONS this thinking encouragement is as important as the more commented effects of the Internet. But its effects and consequences may take longer and may be harder to identify.

Mass media predecessors from press to TV have created “informed societies”, with all these technologies people gained access to information. Each technology and improvement helped to spread knowledge like ever before but always creating “informed” societies. Internet and particularly Web 2.0 is congruent with the informed society but for the first time ever is a mass media with a new huge effect on society besides spreading information it’s creating a “thinker’s societies”. Internet gave people the opportunity to express them self’s like never before (cheaper and simpler) but at the beginning that was analogue to post an ad in the classified newspaper adds, people need to be willing to say something to trigger the process. Latest Web development challenge individuals every now and then with the question ¿What do you have to say? I can be by asking you to fill the messenger what I’m doing line, or a Face Book profile, in a fast voting survey, ratting a youtube video or threw a  large opinion form about site or any topic, one way or another people is getting small but constant demands that force them to think a bit.

To prove my points try to find a group of kids playing happily anywhere. Chances are that most of them have no thought about the CRISIS but have heard about it. As soon as you ask them ¿What do you think about the crisis? Practically all will think about it regardless they have done it before or not. So the mere fact of asking causes thinking.

So according to me Internet is creating “thinking societies”


Please go ahead and tell us ¿What do you think?

Creative Commons LicenseThe unstudied effect of Internet.

by Ruben Schaffer is licensed under  Creative Commons


Learning 2.0

In the Spanish version of the blog there is a new post on thoughts on education and the new paradigms education should adopt. -I don’t know when I’m going to translate it-

But you may check this great videos that where part of my inspiration.

—-Video en TED—-

EOn the second part of this video Gates talks about very intersitng findins his foundation has made about education

Filed under: Education