Blogshare Potlatch

So, having played with Blogshares a bit, and having amassed a tiny fortune (nearly $100K in funny money–too bad Citibank refuses to countenance my imaginary wealth), I got a little creeped out about it. If the web is a gift economy, then a potlatch seemed in order.

Unfortunately, this has proven harder than I thought it would be. First problem: how to get together gifts in large enough chunks to give away. My own shares are fairly worthless–and besides, they would run out too fast. So I’ve been buying high-priced stock and then giving it away–mostly to those on my blogroll who seem to be playing. It seemed like a fun experiment.

The response has been interesting. Today, I got emails from two of the recipients. I read Joshua Farber‘s blog fairly regularly, and I think we have linked one another, but we’ve never directly corresponded. He wrote a very nice note in response… not so much to the gift, but this was an overture. I’m also a regular reader of Ross Mayfield‘s blog, but I don’t think we’ve even cross-linked (though he is on my blogroll). He wrote a very nice one-line thanks. I sent some to Joi Ito, whose blog I also often read. I certainly don’t expect a thank you–that’s not really the idea of a potlatch, exactly. (Though, perhaps it is indirectly. If you haven’t read Mauss’s The Gift Economy you should!) But is it true that Mr. Ito thinks of it as spam? I have no desire to be linked from his site–I’m certainly not blogging for the glory :)–but I’m surprised he would not take these for what they are, friendly random gifts. You would think, given that he is immersed within a gift-giving culture, this wouldn’t be too much of stretch. I hadn’t thought that people would be suspicious of my motives, but perhaps I should have…

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  1. Alex
    Posted 5/17/2003 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Drat! I managed to ping Joi Ito’s site thrice, messing with trying to back up this site. Not sure how that happened, exactly… I’ve decided just to leave everything here rather than spending the time to migrate it over to blogs.informatics.

    Too bad you can’t unping

  2. Alex
    Posted 5/18/2003 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    And now folks are giving me stock. I give up.

  3. Posted 5/18/2003 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think you should/could have expected reciprocity, Alex. If the web really IS a gift economy, then isn’t potlatch best going to sustain that economy as socially positive if what comes around goes around, and one man’s instinct towards giving prompts others to rethink their own socioeconomic generosity?

    Or would you have preferred a pay-it-forward model? If so, maybe you should have said so :-)

  4. Alex Halavais
    Posted 5/18/2003 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Clearly, I hadn’t really thought it through :)! I actually do like the idea of either gifting or bartering shares. So, I’ve given up on the potlatch (I only managed to give away half my worth), and I will instead distribute only my own stock. BUT, I will have a standing high-price buyback program, so that people can cash in on their stock whenever they want. (Not that they would, necessarily.) I like this approach much better… Now I just need to build up cash again so that I can place buy orders out on the stock…

    This all goes to show that gift economies work particularly well among those who have an abundance of cash, even when that cash is (more!) illusory than “real” cash.

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