E Volving Reciprocal Relationship E Conomies
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This presentation examines human interaction in the virtual world created by networked communication systems, focusing on the formation of reciprocal networks of information sharing. Mauss’s theory ...
This presentation examines human interaction in the virtual world created by networked communication systems, focusing on the formation of reciprocal networks of information sharing. Mauss’s theory of ‘the gift’ is used to indicate the essentially reciprocal nature of gift giving, which creates an obligation for some form of exchange, although not by means of direct payment as expected in market relations. Free exchange of information based on reciprocal sharing has been central to the development of the Internet. Where commercial interests have come in to enforce copywriting and licensing (notably in proprietary software), Free and Open Source Software movements have sprung up with copyleft licensing to protect the right to free sharing of code and other information. In this way what is referred to as the ‘High-Tech Gift Economy’ is directly challenging its capitalist counterpart in technology development, with the development of free software designed through the co-operation of ‘techies’ across the globe competing with commercial products. The paper argues that despite limitations the world wide web of information sharing does create an environment for giving gifts of information to a global audience. It is furthermore argued that reciprocal exchange of such gifts through generalized exchange with a worldwide network requires a heightened sense of presence in the virtual gift society.
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