Every person on the planet who uses information technology owes debts of gratitude to literally hundreds of people they will never know, or meet — those people who contribute their personal energies and efforts to the creation of free software and technologies that benefit us all, while asking nothing in return.
It is a labor of love, passion and obsession for these creators. And their greatest reward is seeing that their labors are useful and appreciated.
Some are nearly silent and invisible, working away for years on things we take for granted, with no recognition, and often intentionally so. Others, more loud and boisterous, who can draw and rally and prod.
Every large and small profit-seeking organization that uses or develops information technology exploits the work and and passions of these people, be it Google, Apple or Microsoft, some network switch vendor, a small website developer, SaaS provider, or even a writer making a blog post.
It’s the year’s end, yet again. Please consider donating some of your cash, if you have it to spare, to these people who do so much for us, and whose numbers we will never really know. For all they have done for you, and all they have empowered you to accomplish yourself.
It’s hard to single out people to give rewards to, in such a democratic sea, when viewed from above. But some organizations exists who blanket much good work.
Here is a small list that I give to. All are tax deductible non-profits.
Free Software Foundation, Inc. is the “original”. There is no way to estimate the value of what this organization and people have done, and the impact of what their ideas and efforts have had. And they continue to be a very important guiding light — some would say the ethical center — of free and open. This, in addition to providing key technical foundations.
Software in the Public Interest, Inc. is another venerable organization that gathers funding for many free and open software projects, including Debian (to which I owe so much), PostgreSQL, LibreOffice, Arch Linux, even such stuff as FFmpeg… 🙂
The Mozilla Foundation has been instrumental in helping push web development in free and open ways, as well as technically good ones, and they are in many ways the last bastion of any privacy hope we may have in browsers. Not to mention a great email client for home and business, Thunderbird.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation doesn’t do much directly developing software and technologies, but they are critical to helping us keep good government and legal standards in place to allow freedom and innovation to thrive.
Personally, I feel so incredibly happy that these organizations exist, and that people made the effort and took the risks to create them, and that I can help propel them along in my own small way.