I went to conference today called A Shared Future. The reason I went was to document the building and launching of a gift economy app that model and actress Lily Cole is creating.
This is the event:
I felt from this conference there is a fork where gift economy is splitting off from being grouped into the sharing economy discussion. It’s very different then sharing economy because renting out your spare room is not the same as blowing a strangers mind by baking them an apple pie just for the thrill of getting to show up on their door step with it. These things hardly belong in the same conference. One is utilitarian and the other is about art, expression, joy and love.
Sharing economy seems to be trying to monetize every square inch of the world and turn every aspect of life into a business. Everyone is an entraprenuer. Everyone is selling either their car, their home, their time or even selling the use of their money. Whats next… selling their body? What about an airbnb.com type site but for prostitution. Get rid of the middle men of the pimps? Empower people to monetize their assets? The effect is that money becomes more and more a part of peoples lives.
Gift economy is very different. The opposite in a way. People move away from accounting for every single transaction that takes place. Less and less are we worried about what everything is going to cost us as more and more is simply given free of charge but within a community where that is the structure so everyone gives and recieves and not just randomly but based on your actual goals and desires. Money beomes less and less central to our daily lives and social interactions and we don’t make a profit we can brag about but we do lower our costs and in that respect we do save real money too. So it might be that a gift economy accomplishes many of the same things a the sharing economy but it just does it with a different style and approach.
An employee of Air Bnb was on a panel in the morning and told a moving story of a women who used the extra money from air bnb to fight cancer and try to extend her life as long as possible. In the end the family invited Air bnb to this womens funeral. The point made was that the money and the community experience are all very valuable and created a deep coonnection with the company that is incredibly rare.
This is really great but can we do better? It’s clear that a lot of businesses want to facilitate peer to peer transactions. This isn’t new. Ebay. Craigslist. In more reccent years kickstarter.
All of these businesses want of course get a cut of this peer to peer transaction which actually makes it a peer to business to peer transaction.
One individual asked the crowd funding panel if we are simply creating new middle men. Is this innovation mostly just changing the gaurds?
Next week I go to cambridge too keep documentation of Lily Cole’s project. I am havin fun! Also a randomm gift economy note. I am being hosted by a friend who has put me up in her music studio where i can stay as long as I want and also be able to work on the score of another project I am in th process of finishing.