Gift Culture might be your way out

Saturday September 12th 2020 by SocraticDev

Gift Culture, also known as Gift Economy, is a social exchange system adopted by some human societies when resources are in abundance. In societes where everyone's needs are taken care off, anthropologists have seen this curious phenomenon where the act of giving away ones own wealth makes him richer and elevates his social status. In aboriginal cultures, in mild climates where food is abundant, they have witnessed gift culture happening. On America's West Coast, there is potlach ceremonies where tribal leaders massively distribute gifts to their community. This culture of generosity is also present in show business and among the really wealthy.

In gift culture, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.

What about us developers of the 21st century ?

Open-source software is based on a gift economy. Skilled programmers can easily find good paying jobs, computer and hardware is available and not very expensive. Somewhat, developers live in a contexte of abundance. In their free time, their noble goal is to craft something useful and share it freely with the community. If you give away good code or help people out : you will enrich the community and gain status. The ones directly helped may not immediately give something back to you. But when they become able to help you, they will. Or if strangers hear that you're a kind programmer and contribute to the community : they might invite you to do cool work with them and take care good care of you.

On the other hand, if all you do is being mean and trying to be clever : no one will want to help you.

Today the professions where you can make the most money aren't the ones that are contributing the most to society. You can make a lot of money by doing terrible things. And for the things we need the most : they're aren't much money in them. -- Charles Eisenstein

Gift Culture's objective is fostering "a system of ties and obligations". While the money economy is fostering the relationship between things being traded, the gift economy fosters the relationships between the people doing the trading.


The Hacker Milieu as Gift Culture

Potlach 1

Potlach 2

Charles Eisenstein: 'In a gift economy the more you give, the richer you are'

What is a gift economy? - Alex Gendler