It’s been a busy time on the web this week, what with all the commotion about the Iraqi prison abuses and the allegedly hoaxed photos and the Nick Berg tragedy and all.
But enough about that; what’s really gotten the net nerds’ knickers in a twist is the recent announcement that the latest version of Movable Type — the software that powers this very website — will cost them money.
Now to be fair, I can see the argument from both sides. On the one hand, the new price makes upgrading my own version of MT quite expensive — too expensive for me, on my limited means. For software that’s been available free of charge for so long to suddenly cost €60 is a bit of a jolt, and unlike what Jason Kottke says here initially, the fact that it was free up until now is not irrelevant. Say, for instance, cab rides in your town were free. Then one day, the cab company hikes the fare to 60 bucks a ride. Wouldn’t that piss you off?
Like Kottke states a little later in his piece, I feel that Six Apart — the company behind MT — has misjudged the new pricing structure. While my website only has one author (hiya!) it is comprised of five separate weblogs — too many for the new,
and newly hamstrung, free version. To upgrade, keeping the format of my site as is, could cost me over €80 a year, which is just plain silly, considering I have no pangs for new-fangled features and such.
On the other hand, the people at Six Apart are running a business in a capitalist society, and therefore have every right to make money from their product. They did all the hard work in the first place; we just took the product and used it. Though some might like to believe that MT is somehow _their_ software — as if they made it themselves, just because they used and supported it — they’re unfortunately, but nonetheless completely, wrong. And whining about it is just selfish and pointless, especially since no one is forcing us to upgrade.
Did you get that? If you don’t want to upgrade, then don’t!
Take, for example, that same cab company I described earlier. The company hikes the fare to 60 bucks a ride, but only if you ride in one of their snazzy new cabs. However, if you’ve been a loyal patron, you can still ride for free in their older, grottier, but still reasonably comfortable carriages. I ask you: which one would you choose?
While I would prefer if the new pricing was fairer to the little guy (hiya!) I’m quite happy with my present version of Movable Type, and I’ve got no impetus to change it. I don’t need anything more than I already have, so I won’t be shelling out right now for something that would barely count as an improvement. And frankly, I don’t see why anyone else would, or should, too. So nerds of the world, please, untwist your knickers.
Update 15/05: Six Apart have posted a clarification in response to the overwhelming criticism from the blogosphere. It seems most of the commotion was caused by the folks at Six Apart getting their definitions wrong: when they say ‘weblog’, they mean a single domain powered by Movable Type which could be comprised of many weblogs — so sites that run on a single domain (like mine) and are made up of multiple weblogs (like mine) can upgrade to the free version just like in days of yore (woohoo!). A bit of a public relations boo-boo to be sure, but there’s no real harm done.