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Birthing a Gift Economy


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A possible presentation at Tonic.

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Birthing a Gift Economy

  1. 1. Birthing a Gift Economy Tonic, May 2009
  2. 2. Gift Economy
  3. 3. <ul><li>No restaurant experience, no startup capital, no marketing. </li></ul><ul><li>After 2 years, still breaks even. Half hour wait to get a table, 4 week wait to volunteer! </li></ul><ul><li>Chapters in DC, Chicago, Boston. Three more in India. </li></ul><ul><li>Harvard Business Press: we don’t understand it! </li></ul>Introduction
  4. 4. What’s Happening? Increasingly connected landscape. Ideas spread rapidly, and virally. <ul><li>Trillion web pages online. ( Google, July ‘08 ) </li></ul><ul><li>5 billion mobiles by 2011. ( Economist, ‘09 ) </li></ul><ul><li>More paid bloggers than programmers, firefighters or bartenders. ( WSJ, ‘09 ) </li></ul>
  5. 5. What’s Happening? Organizing without organizations. Platforms simply hold space for emergence.
  6. 6. What’s Happening? Massive disintermediation . Philanthropy goes peer-to-peer.
  7. 7. <ul><li>Power of Many </li></ul><ul><li>Power of Abundance </li></ul><ul><li>Power of Small </li></ul>Three Big Shifts
  8. 8. Background <ul><li>Four volunteers at a homeless shelter, without a plan! </li></ul><ul><li>Websites to web solutions to cards to restaurant to magazine to films to health clinic. </li></ul><ul><li>Scaled exponentially, but we had three organizing principles that were never compromised. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Organizing Principles <ul><li>Stay volunteer-run. </li></ul>Foundation
  10. 10. 5 staff, 40 hrs/week Power of Many 40 volunteers, 5 hrs/week!
  11. 11. Power of Many Distribute and Decentralize <ul><li>Hierarchies simplify coordination; org overhead is result of transaction costs. </li></ul><ul><li>Internet collapses transaction costs, aggregates small pieces. </li></ul><ul><li>Groups form without organizations, from Moldova protests to passing legislation to hobbyist meet-ups. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Power of Many
  13. 13. Power of Many Crowd Sourcing
  14. 14. Power of Many Crowd Sourcing Rules <ul><li>The crowd is dispersed. </li></ul><ul><li>The crowd has limited attention span. </li></ul><ul><li>The crowd is full of specialists. </li></ul><ul><li>The crowd produces lot of junk. </li></ul><ul><li>The crowd finds the best stuff. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Organizing Principles <ul><li>Stay volunteer-run. Power of many. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t fundraise. </li></ul>Foundation
  16. 16. Zero Staff, Tons of Help Power of Abundance
  17. 17. Zero Marketing, Tons of Media Power of Abundance
  18. 18. Zero Plans, Tons of Projects Power of Abundance
  19. 19. Will Zero Fundraising Lead To Enough Money? Power of Abundance
  20. 20. Abundance Scarcity Abundance
  21. 21. Abundance Scarcity Abundance
  22. 22. Abundance Scarcity Abundance
  23. 23. Abundance Scarcity Abundance “ Over 2791.297920 megabytes (and counting) of free storage so you'll never need to delete another message.”
  24. 24. Abundance Scarcity Abundance
  25. 25. Abundance Production Long Tail
  26. 26. Abundance Fall of the Hit Source: Wired Magazine
  27. 27. Abundance Fall of the Hit Source: Wired Magazine
  28. 28. Abundance Vs. Many-to-Many Distribution
  29. 29. Push Comes To Pull … <ul><li>Go-steady-ready: “Forbidden unless permitted” is now “permitted unless forbidden” </li></ul><ul><li>Many to many: broadcast shifts to simulcast, mass market shifts to million minimarkets. </li></ul><ul><li>Co-create: lectures become conversations, advertising becomes word-of-mouth. </li></ul>Abundance
  30. 30. Organizing Principles <ul><li>Stay volunteer-run. Power of many. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t fundraise. Power of abundance. </li></ul><ul><li>Think small. </li></ul>Foundation
  31. 31. Story of Smile Cards Power of Small <ul><li>Coffee table experiment. </li></ul><ul><li>No plan, no marketing, no sustenance plan. </li></ul><ul><li>All gifted. 950,000 cards in circulation. Warren Buffett, Dalai Lama tagged personally! </li></ul>
  32. 32. Power of Small Small is Free
  33. 33. Power of Small Internet: Land of the Free <ul><li>Free bandwidth. </li></ul><ul><li>Free storage. </li></ul><ul><li>Free processing. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Power of Small “ Freemium” Advertising Cross Subsidy LaborExchange No Marginal Cost Gift: Don’t Monetize Attention
  35. 35. Power of Small Radiohead Experiment
  36. 36. Organizing Principles <ul><li>Staying volunteer-run means that we leverage “crowd sourcing”. </li></ul><ul><li>Not fundraising means that we leverage “many-to-many” networks. </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking small means that we leverage the power of gift. </li></ul>Foundation
  37. 37. CF Examples
  38. 38. CF Examples Karma Clinic!
  39. 39. More Examples
  40. 40. Examples <ul><li>Volunteering: 85M people, 20B hours </li></ul><ul><li>Blood and organ donation programs </li></ul><ul><li>Burning Man, Churches, NPR </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific research </li></ul><ul><li>Small scale gift-economies in families </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia: 100M hours donated each year </li></ul>
  41. 41. Examples
  42. 42. Gift Economy <ul><li>Give without any strings attached, and trust reciprocity. </li></ul><ul><li>Redefine wealth as contributions, not possessions. </li></ul><ul><li>Find reward in density of interconnections via circulation of gifts. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Challenges <ul><li>Tragedy of the commons. Typical solutions: eliminate commons, or add governance. </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t scale. Need reputation, trust, and mutual information. </li></ul><ul><li>No incentive to produce or innovate. </li></ul>
  44. 44. What Does This Mean?
  45. 45. Smile Card Impact <ul><li>Million Smile Cards printed, shipped 15,085 orders to 101 countries in 2008 -- by distributed shippers. </li></ul><ul><li>Dozens of new stories posted everyday! Dozens more comments. 66,401 subscribers to weekly newsletter. </li></ul><ul><li>Chicken Soup to magazines copy-left: republish with no strings attached. </li></ul><ul><li>Zero overhead, auto-catalytic cycle since 2003. </li></ul>
  46. 46. Smile Card Impact
  47. 47. Smile Card Impact
  48. 48. What Does This Mean?
  49. 49. Kindness Stories Smile Groups Featured Anyone can post anything; 10-200 views; members can comment, add smiles. Edited stories; anyone can read, and comment; usually, 200-500 reads. On Homepage, potentially HO newsletter, & other CF sites! 500-3K reads. Some hit 70K!
  50. 50. What Does This Mean?
  51. 51. Broader Vision <ul><li>Small acts of kindness. </li></ul><ul><li>Stories celebrate everyday heroes. </li></ul><ul><li>Social networks propagate those values and start to shift our cultural ethos. </li></ul><ul><li>Mini gift-economies enable trustosity : trust-driven philanthropy. </li></ul><ul><li>Generosity Entrepreneurs! </li></ul>
  52. 52. Being Gift-Economy! <ul><li>Service: deliver value that is relevant to the current context. </li></ul><ul><li>Social capital: a community waters the tree that serves them. </li></ul><ul><li>Surrender: trust self organization to manifest impact. </li></ul>
  53. 53. Conclusion
  54. 54. Conclusion