This weekend at Drupalcamp Toronto I was ranting in a goup of friends about choosing technologies that generate profit when one of them seemed surprised by my "capitalism". I think my statement was something like "as long as Drupal makes money I want to be involved with Drupal".
I don't really consider myself a capitalist, although I recognize that considering profit has been on my mind more recently. I do, quite frankly, like making money, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Money gives us some freedoms and opportunities that not having money restricts. I'm not a philanthropist by any stretch of the imagination, but my wife and I do invest in Kiva at the beginning of each month, something that having no money would make impossible.
I don't put money above all else, I believe in humanity, and that all persons deserve equity. I also value personal happiness over money, several years ago I decided that I would never again do something that I hated in order to make a buck. Surely there is an odd balance of values that we all wrestle with when it comes to money. What do we spend, what do we give, what do we save? There is no universal answer.
Web accessibility, ensuring the web is available to all is something that I'm passionate about. Nevertheless I understand that money plays a big role. As recently as this evening I have found myself participating in a discussion about where the balance of accessibility and profit lies. I'd like to say that it is an easy choice, perhaps I've even written that in the past. The fact is, whether we like it or not, ensuring the web is accessible comes at a cost. Do I want the next great medical, humanitarian, or otherwise nifty innovation inhibited or perhaps haulted because of regulations mandating accessibility? I'd like to say that accessibility is always possible, but I understand how money works, and sometimes it simply is not.
In The $100 Startup Chris Guillebeau presents 50 case studies of people who have started successful businesses with modest investments. In many cases these businesses, which deliver real value, freedom and opportunity to real people, were started for several hundred dollars. I want these businesses to be accessible to all, but I know that before that happens they need to first viably exist.
So where does this leave me? For now it leaves me searching for a label, a banner that I can hang above my head to inform those around me of my views on money and humanity. It leaves me feeling comfortable with my values, and realizing that they aren't that different from most of those I know. It leaves me recognizing that there are no absolutes, and that I need to make decisions one at a time, using perspective and past mistakes as guides for the future.