Technology philosophy #5 – Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it has no cost

The internet is awash in free software. I love it, of course. So much software, so little time!

But just because software is free does not mean that it has no costs associated with it. Even the simplest of software will have some level of learning curve associated with. That means you’ve got to invest time in learning how to use the software.

And the more sophisticated the software, the more time it will require from you. Or from someone you’ll have to pay. For example, two of the most common content management software (CMS) packages in use today are Drupal and Joomla. Both programs are entirely free. You can download them right now and start using. That is, if you know HOW to use them. And therein lies the cost.

In order to use Drupal or Joomla, you’ll have to invest time learning how to use the software, or you’ll have to pay someone who already knows how to use the software to install it for you and teach you how to use it. So even though it’s free, it certainly isn’t without cost.

I don’t mean to pick on Drupal or Joomla, or any other open source software, for that matter. Free is good. But it isn’t without cost. And you need to keep that in mind no matter what technology you choose.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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