They say the best things in life are free. In this modern age of content and consumerism, I’m still amazed at the amount of knowledge and resources available for free with an internet connection.
I’ve benefited in so many ways from the Internet of Free Things. I’m currently taking a course on solar photovoltaics, gaining the institutional insight of Delft University for $0.
There are three free things I’ve enjoyed so thoroughly in the past few years, I decided it was high time to support them. So, as a birthday gift to myself this year, I’m treating myself to support this trio of free things I love.
I grew up in a household where the speakers were constantly translating the notes from vinyl records or the radio waves of the CBC. My father gave me an appreciation of audio. Both Mom and Dad encouraged an understanding of the news, locally and globally, on the CBC (even when thirteen-year-old me whined for the K94.9’s Top 9 at 9 instead).
Radio being a long-time companion, I quickly fell in love with podcasts. The best companion for pre-sunrise bus commutes in the prairies. Of course, it was Serial that first drew me in. Then, as I sought interesting Canadian content, I came across Canadaland and Sickboy.
Canadaland, a Canadian media criticism show which has expanded to a diverse series of eight shows (HAVE YOU LISTENED TO THUNDER BAY YET?!). Yet, my favourite is still Canadaland, as I find the review and critic of how the media reports the news an interesting barometer for Canadian sentiment, and often makes me re-think reporting. Plus, the host, Jesse Brown, brings on a wide range of guests and is generally willing to be called out and challenged. And that just makes for good listening.
Sickboy is a podcast where three gents from Halifax talk about what it’s like to be sick. Three best friends, one with Cystic Fibrosis, interview guests with every illness under the sun and explore the challenges, the awkward questions and the humour of being sick. (Check out their Vancouver show where I helped with their Insta!). It’s the question you always wanted to ask but weren’t sure you could. It’s the scary illness that’s a practical reality. It’s real vulnerability and honest insight and poop jokes. What’s not to like?
Jesse Brown wraps his episodes saying: “If you like what we do, please support us.” Today, I listened.
Free yoga class on YouTube are one thing. Earnest engagement, facilitated self-reflection, and an adorable dog are another. I’ve practiced yoga with Adriene for years now (and raved about Yoga Camp back in 2016). In the ebbs and flows of my dedication to yoga practice, YWA has been a constant tool to support my practice in different apartments, provinces, and countries.
All for free. I appreciate their business model. Only 10% of the content produced is paid for, supporting the 90% that is free for the millions of people who use it. I’m grateful for this resource, and it’s a great gift to me to support this channel and community and access a bit more of these classes. With this expanded toolkit, I kicked off the week prior to my birthday with the rejuvenating series Rise.
I returned to school in 2018. I learned a great deal from my classes, my professors, and my classmates. I also learned more than I would like to admit from Wikipedia.
I look back nostalgically at the days of the physical Encyclopedia. Gleaning knowledge about foreign countries or exotic species by pulling the same letter from the four sets of encyclopedias available at the library. Today, I can explore entire cultures, historical narratives, thermodynamic theories, and event current conspiracy theories with just a few clicks.
Wikipedia is “written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles.” Wikipedia aims to have the sum of all human knowledge not to be owned by anyone – but owned by everyone.
In an age of individualism and nationalism, such a shared global project with a virtuous goal is a refreshing reminder of the power for good on the internet. It’s a surprising success story that is also a critical tool. As a reliable teacher and a continuing good news story, I’ve donated Wikipedia for my birthday.
I’m grateful for these free things and my current capacity to contribute. I’m also grateful for my community of family and friends who have shared their love and support through my thirty-two years of adventures and growth. And thank you for reading these words. I appreciate it.