When the taps are turned off..

water for all

How would we cope if the water supply were to be turned off? I suspect many of us have experienced this for a short time, whilst work is being done to the mains for example. The water company may bring bottled water to help us out or provide a standpipe until service is resumed. We may complain but we know that sooner or later the taps will be running again with plenty of water for all our cooking, washing and cleaning needs. It is something we take for granted in many countries, although sadly not available in all.

Recently several business decision have been made by large companies which directly affect those of us working in education. The decision by Adobe to acquire and then close down Storify is followed swiftly by another big player TES, which having acquired wikispaces is now closing it down. Both these services have clearly been used as a means to access a potential market which in financial terms they have not achieved and so the big corporates move on, relentlessly tossing aside the hard work of individuals who have lovingly created and shared content for nothing. That’s it – tap switched off, poor provision for exporting content, tough luck, the company needs to make money.

Educators have been using free web 2 tools to connect, improve educational opportunities and support equality of opportunity. They have crafted a route to the water of learning and I’m sure their ingenuity and mutual support networks will ensure that we will find ways around this but we must not forget those who have shown they care more for money than for public good. They have proven they have no interest in our aims. What of the history of the educational achievements of the last 10 years or so though? How is that archived? Who will save the evidence of interactions through positive networks such as Global Classroom. The vision was captured in my interview here – many educators connected to collaborate on international projects thanks to the time and effort of volunteers who relied on free tools. Hundreds of young people around the world are grateful for these networks but they don’t pay – at least not in hard currency.

If we lost access to water for ever, only for it to be granted for a price, in a reality of the gig economy where we may not be able to afford that price, who will care? Would we just set about creating our own ways of harvesting rain water? Would the community come to the rescue where capitalism abandons all those who cannot pay? Is this dystopian reality the limit of the vision we have for society?

If this is the future as imagined by the political masters, the CEOs and the neo liberal elite it is not one I can subscribe to. Dressed up as “sound business sense” or “encouraging entrepreneurial activity” – this is doublespeak of the worst kind. Actions speak louder than your weasel words. Fortunes can and will change.

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