Paying if you will

Gina is reading Dickens again. David Copperfield, this time. Dickens is one of her favorite authors. The difficulty that arises when Gina is reading Dickens, is that every 15 minutes or so she bursts out in peals of laughter, or exclaims “Just so!” and says “R0ml, you have to hear this.” Sometimes it’s hard to write code when Dickens is in the house.

Here’s the one that made me pause.

In case your Dickens is as rusty as mine, here’s what’s happening: Miss Trotwood wants to send David to school in Canterbury, but he can’t board at the school, and she doesn’t approve of any of the nearby boarding houses. Her lawyer, Mr. Wickfield, offers to take him in. She demurs. Until:

“Come! I know what you mean,” cried Mr. Wickfield. “You shall not be oppressed by the receipt of favours, Miss Trotwood. You may pay for him, if you like. We won’t be hard about terms, but you shall pay if you will.”

Which, of course, made me think about both the Internet and Open Source.

I guess both the Internet and Open Source software would have fared better if Victorian sensibilities had survived. Imagine Miss Trotwood being offered capable software for free. Imagine Miss Trotwood being offered the use of an online service for free. Obviously she would demur. What kind of person would willingly allow themselves to be oppressed by the receipt of favours? Certainly, no respectable person. No, a respectable person would will to pay. There’s no need for the provider to be hard about terms.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that, in fact, one of the (very few) things that Gina and I have in common, is our nineteenth century sensibility — mine deriving more from Conan Doyle than Dickens (which makes me a trifle more modern). And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was, in fact, feeling oppressed by the receipt of all those favours. Last year, I began to prefer purchased software over gratis software. This year, my project will be to choose paid websites over free ones.

I resolved to cancel existing accounts for free services. As I came across things that were too useful to cancel, I would see if there was a way to pay for them, or to find alternatives where I could “pay if I will”.

The initial attempts have been … interesting. And thereby hangs a tale for another time.