[Summary:Trying to undo a bit of scarcity thinking from the voluntary sector: this time, PW How To Guides]
A long time ago I wrote a resource for Participation Works called “How to use multimedia tools to engage children and young people in decision-making”. The work was funded through a Big Lottery Fund (BLF) grant to Participation Works to support the third-sector with youth participation, and all the published resources were being made available freely online.
It seems that since that grant has ended, Participation Works have decided to restrict free online access to all the digital copies of the resources that BLF money funded, including the guide I wrote: they now want to charge for it.
I don’t. I didn’t write it to be sold. I wrote it to be shared and on the understanding that it would be freely available online. So you can grab your copy here: How to Use Multimedia to Engage Children and Young People in Decision Making (PDF)
[Update 22nd July 2010: With much reluctance I have had to remove the download link to this guide. It was my hope that this blog post would (a) ensure the continued availability of a resource which was written for free dissemination; (b) register my feeling that Participation Works had breached the trust on which the original writing of this resource was based and ensure that others were not suffering from that breach of trust also; (c) provide a gentle provocation to encourage PW and others to think about the messages they are sending out to the sector. Sadly, it does not seem that the Participation Works Consortium took it in that spirit.
I bear no ill-will towards members of the Participation Works Consortium. It is possible some interpreted my posting of this guide as a 'competitive' or aggressive act and an act of Practical Participation. It was neither.
This is my personal blog, and whilst I don't draw a strict distinction between personal and company posts - intended this post in a personal capacity, expressing my belief in the importance of openness, abundancy thinking and values-based practice. If any offence was caused to any individuals or organisations - my apologies.
For potential users of the guide: I believe the How To guide contains some useful concepts, although it's technical content is now out of date. If you are interested in the topic of the guide, and can't find other resources that support your practice, please get in touch as I hope to be able to put together a freely available Creative Commons resource on this topic in the near future.]
It’s only a basic resource, and you will no doubt find lots more information online in space such as Youth Work Online but I thought it important to make sure it did remain freely available on the web.
(As a serious point: it’s pretty worrying to see how many voluntary sector organizations, particularly infrastructure organizations, are shifting into scarcity thinking right now – imagining that by starting to charge, or charge more, for resources in a time of scarcity they will be able to sustain the same old work. A time of scarce financial resources is no time to start restricting your reach by putting in pay-walls. It’s time to build and innovate on legacies of work, not to try and commercially exploit them. Perhaps this is easier to say when freelance and I’m used to the uncertainty of the future – but organizations with a social mission need to remember that the missions are bigger than the organizations - and it’s social change, not organizational maintenance that should come first…)