When I wrote this editorial, I was hoping that people would share some ideas and I'm glad to see some ideas rolling in already.
If one was willing to do a little looking around for volunteer work locally, one might try looking at some of the essential service providers that always seem to have tight budget constraints like police offices, schools, parks and recreation - and perhaps help them automate some tasks, collect lists, etc.
On the national level, perhaps our senators and congressmen need to hear from the database community more often - hear ideas about how to tackle difficult issues from the perspective of reducing information costs and making critical information more available. On these forums I've seen some very smart, capable people with in-depth experience that no doubt could help things along.
There's an interesting book by Daniel Bell called The Coming of Post-industrial Society where Bell suggests that one of the major societal shifts is from a one that relies more on the "economics of information" rather than the "economics of goods." There seems to be a more central role to be played by the technocrat - people driven as Wikipedia suggests, by their "problem-solution mindsets."
I don't want to get carried away into a fictional future controlled by database professionals who silence their foes by deleting their identities from the central database - but just offer some food for thought.
Thanks for sharing,