Filed under: Digital Strategy
None of the authors and editors of The Age of Conversation receive any material reward from sales.
And yet, only two weeks in and we have sold around 680 books with almost $5,500 raised for Variety, the Children’s Charity. The energy surrounding the launch of the book has flourished into innumerable activations that don’t look like slowing down anytime soon. Check out the latest press and updates here.
It brings to mind the concept of “gift economies” that I’ve recently been introduced to through a discussion I’ve been having with Matt about the use of Flickr photos in a recent Virgin Mobile campaign.
Information is particularly suited to gift economics, as information can be copied and transmitted at practically no cost. It can be treated as a nonrival good: when you share information, you do not deprive yourself of the information (although you may deprive yourself of certain revenues that could be gained in the market economy from the intellectual property rights).
Traditional scientific research is an information gift economy. Scientists produce research papers and give them away through journals and conferences. Other scientists freely refer to such papers. The more citations a scientist has, the more prestige and respect he or she has, which can attract funding and positions. All scientists therefore benefit from the increased pool of knowledge.
Gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance. In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.
This brings to life Jason Oke’s recent point about cooperation: it isn’t just the driving force behind the web, it’s also the driving force behind evolution.
He points to an article in the NY Times by Martin Nowak, a professor at Harvard who studies cooperation:
“Cooperation is one of the three basic principles of evolution…cooperation is essential for life to evolve to a new level of organization…Humans had to cooperate for complex societies to emerge.
We see this principle everywhere in evolution where interesting things are happening.”
Nice. I think what’s happening is pretty interesting too.
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