Kevin Coleman, author, designer, and developer of Something Good.

Something Good is a passion project I started partially to learn about native application development — but more because of its mission. Several years of working in a rapid development environment had left me disheartened, and nearly burnt-out. I thought, “if only I could work on a development project that didn’t just make someone money, but actually changed the world for the better.”

After some brainstorming, friend-asking, and prototyping, Something Good was born. Of course, there was plenty of work yet to be done, and many iterations have yet to be realized, but looking back I can already see how the app has made other people’s lives a bit better.

One of the least-expected but best surprises I’ve had since starting was a realization about the target demographic of the app. Initially I thought to target pretty much anyone with this app — and, indeed, anyone can use it — but I realized part way in that there’s also a very important demographic that this app targets: those struggling with depression.

A page from Debi Gliori’s Night Shift

I hadn’t thought much about this until a few months back when I was browsing around in a bookstore. I happened upon the book Night Shift by Debi Gliori. Its form factor looked like a children’s book, but as I read it I realized it is not just for children. Night Shift tells a vivid story of what happens to a person’s perception of the world around them when they struggle with depression. Debi’s telling of this journey opened my mind to helping people combat their depression through simple, practical ways. An app seemed perfect.

One of the common themes I’ve heard from people who have struggled with depression is that they feel like days, weeks, months go by without any reason to even get out of bed. They struggle to see the point in doing even the smallest things. Showering in the morning can be a struggle. Because Something Good encourages people to reach the low bar of one good thing (even a very small thing), it aims directly to help people who may not see any reason to do anything. It even gives them an answer (however small) to the question “what have I even done to merit existing?”

This has been an empowering mission for me, as my journey through a web development career has sometimes left me wondering where a person’s value comes from. A steady paycheck? Good code? Client satisfaction?

While I don’t have an answer to the value question, I do know that, without question, doing at least one good thing each day provides value to the world around us.