This past week, I have been spending money, primarily getting ready for the upcoming holiday season. But along the way I’ve also been spending some money and supporting a few of the free online services and products that I rely on everyday.
My first stop, the Wikipedia store, where I dropped $25 on an “I Edit Wikipedia” shirt, some stickers and pin. Mozilla was next, where, for $30, I got a nice, new Firefox t-shirt. $30 at Creative Commons snagged me a t-shirt, some stickers and pins.
Now, even though I get some nice stuff out of this, I didn’t do it because of the t-shirts, stickers or pins. It’s not about the schwag (although it’s nice to have a sticker on the laptop to show support and raise awareness). And I don’t see this as charity. I am not doing this for altruistic reasons. It’s selfish, really. I want these services and products to survive because I use them – no, I RELY on them, every day. In my mind, this is a payment (albeit small) for services and products I use. They are valuable, and I would miss them if they were gone.
I financially support these organizations for the same reason I support The Knowledge Network and other public broadcasters – because I get something of value from them and I think they should be acknowledge in a way that means something to them. They need money to keep doing the work they do; work that is generally free from commercial interests, which is something that is harder to come by on the web these days, especially in education where the VC money is calling the shots on so many “innovations” revolutionizing education. Personally, I would rather pay transparently up front than have what I see as valuable become commodified and commercialized.
Last night, after reading George Siemens post (and subsequent rich conversation between George and Scott Leslie in the comments), I added Hack Education to my list and made a payment to Audrey Watters for $25. A small price to pay to someone who I (and many others) see as an invaluable, independent voice in the EdTech maelstrom these days.
Georges post also made me realize that I should be explicit about these contributions and transactions. His post was a prompt for me – a reminder that these free services we rely on need to be supported in real and tangible ways, and pushed me to action. Georges post was my prompt. Maybe this will be yours?