When one works in software development, like I do, and one does not work in frequent contact with clients and colleagues, like I do, it is very easy to lose track of the real world value of the work that one does. Instead it is easy to get caught up in the technical details of the work, especially the mistakes, the shortcomings and the imperfections.
Yesterday I went in to London to go to the official launch of the new website of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association at http://ilga.org/. It was a multi-hour affair with moving speeches from representatives from around the world talking about the importance of awareness, sharing experiences and making contact with a community.
The website was built through a partnership between BT and ILGA. Rather than BT giving ILGA a pile of cash they did something I think much more valuable: They gave time and expertise. That took the form of developers from Osmosoft who worked on developing and refining the website for about eighteen months. That built a relationship between those developers and the people and issues from ILGA. Relationships can be transformative.
I was not directly involved in the ILGA project (except at the very beginning when doing proofs of concepts) but it is built on TiddlyWeb so I provided a supporting role. I went along yesterday mostly as a gesture of continuing that support. What I got instead was a very strong reminder that the technical details of the work, especially the mistakes, the shortcomings and the imperfections are minor concerns in the grand scheme of things. TiddlyWeb has its flaws and frustrations, the additional ilga code is a fair amount of bubble gum and bailing wire. But that doesn’t matter.
What matters is the impact of the work. Without much marketing, the new website is already drawing many hits and comments from around the world. And right on the front page is a map that makes it very clear that just because you love your lover several repressive regimes in this, the 21st Century, claim the right to kill you.