'Give it away,
Give it away,
Give it away, now,
I can't tell if I'm a king pin or a pauper'
(Red Hot Chili Peppers, Give it Away, Blood Sugar Sex Magik)
This week Ribasushi (Peter Rabbitson to some) long time Perl stalwart, drinker and general evil man/sith lord who just happens to belong to the Shadowcat Team wrote a reasoned, thoughtful, restrained (and not his usual frothing at the bit going to kill you all with a gun) piece of rhetoric in support of Gittip and why the Perl community should be part of it.*
I am not going to repeat Riba's article here, I think you should go and read it for yourself. However I am going to step into what seems to be the firing line along side him and say, 'whut?' and 'why you no wanna free beer?'.
A word of caution, this is mostly just a random rant, an expression of what thoughts came to mind when I was thinking on a particular subject. Don't expect a reasoned piece like Riba's, this contains mostly me and a semi-knee-jerked response.
Okay, I can see that there is some cause to see this as maybe:
- a deviation of funding;
- an excuse for a business model; (see notes and comments)
- the only one to benefit wil be a few luminaries who already get stuff and the rest is worthless;
- too little, too late (nods at the memory of Jean Rhys);
- distracting from real investment, solutions;
[I'm guessing here, I didn't even grace the arguments with a care to read them].
And other arguments of similar scope and intent. I feel that some people will argue over a gift or something that is free. There is this expectation it seems that a free thing, a gift must have more value than something you pay for or receive as an actual justifiable remuneration. As if it is an insult, I am worth more than that even if it is given freely, how could they value it/me that way. It isn't the cliché of 'looking a gift horse in the mouth' it steps back and points dispariging looks at anyone who would contemplate either giving or receiving such a horse. Well, how dare they? How dare we?
On that note, I am on Gittip. I joined it to be part of the communities and to contemplate doing what Riba is doing and buying people I admire, respect, think they have done good works, a beer. A small sum as appreciation. It may not be seen as much to many but it is my choice.** At this point I haven't set a budget as I wanted time to let others join and to balance finances so I was being cautious unlike my Sith compatriot.
Then I discovered I am in receipt of funds.
So someone wants to buy me a couple of beers.
Without this extra gem I had originally seen the whole system as a neat idea. Sure there is a business model behind this site (see notes and comments), but listen up people this is a capitalist world where people have/want/like to make money. If you want a better world, and it seems to me the owners of the site do as this is mostly a great way of distributing wealth in a self-sustaining system that site within the framework of an existing global methodology, you have to make small changes. Small steps are needed to force change, not bloody revolutions. Total rejection leads to a local effect sure, but its impact is restricted, better for the smaller models to work, the most powerful force in an economy is usually local businesses (combined) so small companies, making a profit but supporting a social change will make an impact and will make a difference.*
What I mostly got was an enormous buzz. Someone thought the work I did in the community was worthy of a couple of beers and they wanted to make sure I had them each month. That's simply great. I don't care that it was a small ammount, I was stunned by the fact that I was chosen, that they cared.
Which is the whole point of this piece. I wanted to support Riba. I wanted to say I admire his defence of choice and of wanting more of the communities he is involved with in this system where we can choose to give. I don't care so much about the amount. The act of giving, of receiving, of choice and reciprocity are powerful enough reasons to be a part of it.
And if a large governmental/charitable/not-for-profit want to step in and take over to turn the whole system into a zero-profit total gain system, then that's cool. But it isn't an absolute and I am quite happy for the people behing [Gittip][gitty] to make their bread and butter.
On 'Sure there is a business model behind this site' - If you read the comments you will discover that the model is in fact self-funding through the same mechanism the site creates. The fees are simply the direct passing of provider fees and not for the site and they rely on donations. So this is in effect a not-for-profit. The only gain is to fund them if you like their idea. True crowd-funding and part of the 'small steps' path needed to make long term change.
Well done guys.
This ammendment is to preserve the original article yet allow more recent, and relevant information.
* I'll just take a deep breath after that impressively long opening sentence.
** Oh wait did choice just enter the room. Did personal opinion and feeling just wander by. Did I just indicate that foaming and decrying are usually done by those who do not celebrate choice. I see repeatedly people who claim to celebrate choice, who declare to be proponents of free speech, free expression and the given right to be an ass via textual expression. But that is not a celebration. That is to use freedom as a method by which to assert negativity on a given subject onto everyone else. Instead of appreciating someones choices, values and opinions, it is more fun to destroy them. It is so much more satisfying to anhilate someones opinions and give yourself that little win, all in the name of freedom.
* I am digressing and that's a much longer argument that should be visited elsewhere.