Re: [rumori]

From: Jim Carrico (
Date: Sun Dec 31 2000 - 11:28:19 PST

>One interesting thing about the original Potlatch was that,
>as I understand it, the receiver of a gift was expected to
>give a gift back that was better. In other words
>everyone had to keep outdoing each other. In some cases,
>I've read, this continued to extremes, like someone burning
>down his own village as a gift to another chief.

yes - i don't know about the village story, but destruction of wealth did
happen. but the whole economy and society was also in the process of
getting warped out of shape by their encounter with the commodity and
mass-produced goods.

>But it seems like is about voluntary
>payments, payments in regular money. Right? A tipping
>I think that's great, but the Potlatch reference seems to
>suggest more. In an art-oriented gift economy everyone would
>be an artist and give each other art, wouldnt they? This is
>truly exciting. To advocate that society could be different,
>could be something other than divided between "the gifted
>artists" and "non artists" would be a great message.

exactly! an ideal potlatch network would consist of people contributing
something other than money - but I think there has to be some measure of
valuing some contributions over others - some way of knowing, and
rewarding, what people actually want. And a way to contribute "just money"
if that's all you have.

>->We're convinced that if it was easy and convenient to give artists small
>->amounts of money, many people would do so - enough to make it worth doing.
>This reminds me of a study done on Gnutella. I wish I
>could find the url about it but basically someone found that
>only a very small (like 15%) portion of Gnutella users were
>actually giving, i.e. offering files to be shared from their
>hard drives. Most were only taking. I found that very

this is at least partially a design flaw in gnutella - I've haven't seen a
similar statistic for napster, but I suspect it's quite a bit higher than
that, at least partially because napster is quite insistent about sharing
your files. (the version of gnutella I ran suggested you *not* make your
download folder the same as your upload folder, to avoid the fragmented
files problem, etc.) the point of freenet and mojonation is encourage users
to make the *system resources* available - the files themselves are
encrypted so you don't even know what's in the corner of the network that's
on your hard drive.

And while i'm at it let me rant about the phrase "tragedy of the commons" -
i england, where I believe the phrase originates, there wasn't a friggin
tragedy of the commons until most of it got fenced in in the original
"enclosures" - nowadays we call it privitization - the remaining common
land became overcrowded. In other words it was a manufactured scarcity...

>So, this is just one of several cases that implies that it's
>not at all certain your statement is true - at least in our
>present social climate. The truth of your hypothesis
>depends on a few things: the definition of "worth doing";
>the definition of "small amounts of money"; and the
>definition of "easy". A lot also depends on re-educating
>people - people are so used to paying for everything (and
>paying too much) that the few things that involve voluntary
>payments are just seen as a chance to get something free,
>some kind of mistake or luck that they need to take
>advantage of and grab, "cuz dammit we've been cheated so
>much already"... But i think this attitude could change.

all true - we're not sure it will work. But we think that it's a design
problem worth tackling...

>More on "worth doing" - if "worth doing" means "enough to
>make a living", then the art of almost NO artist is "worth
>doing". But there are other motivations, luckily...

well, i see it as the difference between 'making a living' and 'having a
life' - i only ever really wanted the latter. And anyway we obviously
can't survive in this society without money, so every little bit helps...

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