I’m going off-topic today to heap praise on Wysija, one of the bits of free software that helps make Letters Blogatory run. Wysija enables my email subscription service, which many of you use to read Letters Blogatory each day. It’s a big improvement over the prior software in a lot of ways, and the guys who wrote it give it away for free. What’s more, they helped me get it up and running and have cheerfully answered my questions.
Just to speak a little more generally and idealistically: this is a golden age for people who want to share their thoughts with the world. For the price of renting a server in some datacenter, 1 you can publish pieces that people can read anywhere in the world. All of the software, from the operating system to the server software to the database to the scripting language to the content management system to the various bits and pieces of software that control the look and feel and extend the functionality of the website, 2 is developed and maintained by a community of smart technical people who have an ethos of making free software available to the world. I mean, just consider the two footnotes that appear in this paragraph. Some guy wrote a little piece of software that lets me put in footnotes to my heart’s content, and he gave it away for free! Somewhat less idealistic but still very useful services such as Google and Twitter help other people find what they’re looking for on the web. The best part is that all of this complicated software makes it embarrassingly easy for non-technical people like me to publish and to reach readers around the world.
All of us who write on the web, or who read what others write on the web, owe a big debt of gratitude to the people who make it possible. So thanks, technically-minded people, for empowering the rest of us!