Today's society is so used to getting so many things for free from the internet. We're very privileged and I think that we often took advantage of free services, free information and free entertainment a lot more than we even take time to acknowledge or give back to.
Because the range of free information, services and entertainment is so vast and varied, I thought I'd hone in on just a small range of services that I regularly take advantage of and appreciate tremendously.
The Writing Show (Podcast for Writers)
- Offering information and inspiration for writers, this podcast features interviews with authors from various types of writing (ie, different genres and a variety of different forms of writing) as well as instructive advice and tips on honing your writing skills.
Ralan's Webstravaganza (Writing Market Information)
An easily searchable, browseable listing of various speculative and humour fiction markets updated regularly.
Podiobooks.com (Podcast - Entertainment)
Free serialized audio books. Tons of great free books you can subscribe to and download. A great way to discover authors you might not have already heard of.
These are JUST THREE of the free services and entertainment offerings from Web 2.0 that I regularly enjoy and take advantage of. There are more. But I thought I'd pause to acknowledge these three for now and suggest a way that I might be able to help ensure they keep running.
I sincerely believe that the average person, like me, can give back, give thanks and show appreciation for those things being offered.
And here's what you can and should do for each service you enjoy and regularly benefit from.
1) Let them know. Send the creator/owner/originator an appreciative email or leave a comment letting them know how much you appreciate what they're doing and what it means to you.
2) Spread the love. If you enjoy it, let others know about it. Tell friends, colleagues, etc. Post about it on your own blog or social networking platform so others can learn about it and benefit from it.
3) Donate. Donating just $1.00 via an easy and secure method such as PayPal goes a long way.
Consider this. Most of the people operating these free services are doing it as a labour of love. It's something they believe in and believe others will benefit from. And they're often putting endless hours into it and perhaps the only benefit they're reaping is perhaps learning that others appreciate it.
So if half of everyone who benefited from using the services donated $1.00 every six months or perhaps even just once a year, even THAT would go a long way towards helping ensure they could afford to keep the services running.
I recently learned that one of the services I donated $1.00 to gets over 100,000 hits per year. If just 1 in 10 people donated $1 to that service, this would offer the person running it enough money to pay for the server space and other incidental costs that they incur by putting countless hours of their energy and passion into providing a service that benefits others.
I would therefore like to propose to the internet community an annual "free service donation day." Set it on the 15th of a month. Why not the forthcoming 15th of October? Maybe call it the "Ides of October" or "Web 2.0 Thanksgiving" or something like that -- and on that day, take a few minutes to acknowledge one or more of the free internet services you enjoy, spread the love about them and donate $1.00 towards the service. Perhaps pick one or pick your favourite three.
In the examples I'm using here, donating $1.00 to the services I have acknowledged would cost me $3.00. Not much. About a cup of coffee. And how many hours of entertainment and information have those three services brought me over the years? Gee, that's a ton of stuff I'm getting for a measly $3.00. But wow, my $3.00 could go a long way if even half or a quarter of the people who benefited from these services offered.
It's a simple concept. Doesn't cost much. And it could make a world of difference for the person or persons offering that free service to help them keep it running so that we can continue to benefit from them. Think about it. Give it a shot.