There are many great free and open source projects around which can easily be used (studied, modified and distributed) by everyone. The problem is that they are not widely known and after all, everyone else uses Facebook and Twitter.
That is why I use
- Ubuntu instead of Windows or Mac OS even though it does not run Adobe software
- Identi.ca instead of Twitter even though it is not hip
- Diaspora instead of Facebook even though it is buggy
- OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps even though it does not have place info
- SparkleShare instead of Dropbox even though it is in beta
- Libre.fm instead of Last.fm even though it does not play all artists
- EtherPad instead of Google Docs even though it does not have as sophisticated formatting
- NewsBlur instead of Google Reader even though it does not have a mobile client (yet)
- Jappix instead of Meebo even though it has no adverts
And the free projects have their advantages (except for the freedom):
- Ubuntu does not run Adobe software
- You don’t need to log in to view your Identi.ca stream (useful for internet cafés etc.)
- OpenStreetMap has an awesome cycle map!
- Libre.fm does not play the same lame tunes that everyone already knows
- EtherPad makes collaborative writing really really easy
- NewsBlur shows the original page, not just a bare feed
- Jappix can talk XMPP, AIM, Identi.ca, IRC – even Twitter and Facebook and so much more!
- You get to know people who have similar values
So spread these great free alternatives! Talk to your friends, show them Ubuntu from a USB key, give presentations, start a Free Culture chapter at your university – but most important: use free projects and help where you can.