This is a timely ‘thank you’, these freely-available and/or open source platforms and applications are a vital basis for people to have affordable access to the wider world in a way barely possible before. They form a good model for ‘not-for-profit’ infrastructure that, by its existence, enables greatly increased participation in all sorts of ‘economies’; the exchange of information, ideas, learning, goods, services, money. This is a point I think is missed by those who believe that ‘the market’ and privately-owned, profit-focused infrastructure offer the best way forward. As we have seen in UK with our deregulated and privatised bus and train services, tempered by a sizeable public subsidy for the latter, the tendency is for infrastructure operated for profit to shrink to what is profitable – simple logic, but the infrastructure is diminished, less available, less an infrastructure and more a luxury service.
If we accept instead that making infrastructure available as cheaply and effectively as possible will stimulate and facilitate widespread activity at all sorts of levels including the financial economy, then we stand a better chance of raising the overall ‘standard of living’ of all our citizens, not just a privileged few in a few geographical locations. Ken Livingstone, early in his terms as head of the Greater London Council, did an excellent thing in making the London Underground fare system simpler and, for a while, very cheap; it made moving around London easy and affordable, even to a nearly penniless recent graduate, as I then was.
There is also no reason why such ‘not-for-profit’ organisations should not be operated in a fully business-like and professional manner, with reward and recognition for employees who produce a high standard of performance for the customer and ultimate share- or should that be stake-holder – society.
Sound and universally-accessible Infrastructure is like a healthy blood circulation in the body, it enables each of us to live, create and express fully our potential, even to make as much money as we can from other (hopefully legitimate and non-harmful) activities that are enabled by that infrastructure.
Wordpress is a good example of this, as are the creators and developers of Open Office and many more.
Yes, I agree, Thank You.