Charity Debt: Public Knowledge

I said earlier this month that I was probably going to pick Public Knowledge for this month's Charity Debt.  I never actually got around to doing the write-up, though.  (I mean, now I'm getting around to it.  But it's the 21st.)  For the record:  though I absolutely intend to buy a copy of Pirate Cinema for a classroom somewhere, my feeling of debt to authors who release their work for free is separate from my commitment to donate a chunk of my (hypothetical) income to charity on a regular basis. Public Knowledge's minimum donation is $10, so this month's entry is going to be a little more expensive than usual.  But that's fine.  The point of this is to do it when I can afford it, right?  Though I'm starting to feel like I should do some of them soon even if I'm not out of debt yet.

Public Knowledge lists four major categories of issues they support:  Open Internet, including net neutrality and getting internet access to as many people as possible; Promoting Creativity, including pursuing a more balanced system of copyright, and defending that more balanced system to protect more artists; Open & Accessible Technology, including "Ensuring access to communications for all Americans;" and International, including foreign legislation about copyright and control that would affect the internet for everyone.

Public Knowledge is a great cause, and I'm happy to support it.  This looks like one of the places I'd be interested in signing up for a regular donation, when I have an income greater than my expenses.  Until then, I'm committing to donate $10 when I can get around to it, and encouraging all my readers to donate, too.

Review: Pirate Cinema

Okay so first of all, I read this book for free, thanks to Cory Doctorow's policy of posting all of his books free online. I decided that I'm going to buy a copy, and since I've already read it and can get the text online whenever I want, I'm going to take Doctorow's suggestion on his website and buy a copy for a school.  Y'know, when I have money.  It's on the list. Pirate Cinema is a fantastic novel.  It's about a teenager in England who gets his family kicked off the internet for making fan videos about his favorite actor.  In order to spare his family the shame and risk of a pirate son, he runs off to London to live on the streets -- where everything goes pretty well.

I mean, he's homeless, and he suffers some serious consequences for that fact.  But this novel is just a little bit optimistic, and a lot  aspirational -- this is a book about teenagers doing amazing things.  I love books about teenagers who do amazing things.

It gets a little preachy at times, which is fine with me because I like preachy and I agree with the message -- it's definitely a political novel.  But it's the best kind of political writing -- the kind that makes clear the fact that the small-seeming decisions made by big governments pretty much always mean life or death to someone, somewhere.

Check it out, for free or for money.

Charity Debt: The Wikimedia Foundation

I'm a few days late on picking a charity this month, partly because I forgot that, after Halloween, a new month started, and partly because the biggest issue that's been weighing on my mind is the election.  I'd love to give a contribution to the Obama campaign, but it's kind of pointless to promise to donate money sometime in the indeterminate future to help a campaign that will be over tomorrow.  For a similar reason, I'm not donating to Hurricane Sandy relief, although I do have the Red Cross, or other emergency relief organizations, in mind for a future pick. I picked the Wikimedia Foundation for this month, the people behind Wikipedia, partly because I've meant to donate to them for a long time now.  I think that Wikipedia is one of humankind's great achievements -- on a sort of second-tier, alongside stuff like the scientific journal or public education, but not on level with the printing press or the internet.  I get a lot of use out of Wikipedia, and it's important to me.

I also picked them because the organization I was going to donate to,, doesn't show up on Charity Navigator -- instead, when you search for them, one of the results is the Wikimedia Foundation, which has 4 out of 4 stars.  Public Knowledge has been open in a tab on my computer for about two weeks, I keep meaning to look into them.  I still plan on investigating further, but the fact that they aren't on Charity Navigator kind of sketches me out.

As usual, I won't be able to make this donation for a while.  (I've got a lot to get through before this one comes up in line.)  If you want the list, click here.  And, here's a video of Jimmy Wales at TED talking about Wikipedia.

July Charity Debt:

This month's charity pick is, a favorite charity of a number of vloggers.  (Flying vloggers out to see, and report on, the conditions in the less-industrialized world is a great advertising strategy.)  You can see WheezyWaiter visiting India here, and Hank Green visiting Haiti here. I checked out on Charity Navigator, where it has 4 out of 4 stars.  Also, Matt Damon really is a co-founder.  I thought that was just a joke in WheezyWaiter's video.

According to their FAQ, $25 buys one person clean water for life.  So, $5 should help at least a little.

Here's a donation link.

[The title of this post was edited on July 30, when I noticed, embarrassingly late, that I wrote "March" instead of "July." -- Watson]