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The gift of sharing

Type
Video
Tags
social
Authors
Gregers Petersen
Event
Chaos Communication Congress 23th (23C3) 2006
Indexed on
Mar 27, 2013
URL
http://dewy.fem.tu-ilmenau.de/CCC/23C3/video/23C3-1502-en-the_gift_of_sharing.m4v
File name
23C3-1502-en-the_gift_of_sharing.m4v
File size
242.9 MB
MD5
c48c8f3ef7e6262e3cb1862509175eb8
SHA1
62bb9f24308fdb910bd5e49c0e6175b4261f0d29

This paper will dive into this complex questionmark through a comparison between primitive hunter-gatherer societies and the everyday life-world of FOSS. The discussion will focus on the thesis that FOSS practice is based on social sharing and not on processes of exchange. This will entail a negation of the paradigm of economic logic and instead pull a quest for valuable relationships to the forefront of the FOSS sociality. It seems to be accepted that there exists strong similarities between archaic societies and the present day world of FOSS. At first people might wonder how it is possible to compare the exchange of shell-necklaces with binary code running on a x86 CPU. Then, after explaining the basic principles of gift-giving and reciprocity the same people suddently understand that "we're all" part of a gift economy. When "we all" take part in the use and development of FOSS we're at the same time part in a complex structure of exchange relations. These exchange relations are driven by a coupling of reciprocity with an economic logic which promotes that individual benifit is greater through free giving and subsequent recieving. But, what if this is a wrong and faulty notion? One essential element seems to be missing - when you look closer at the everyday practice - then what is being transacted, were are the transactions, or economical processes of exchange? This paper will dive into this complex questionmark through a comparison between primitive hunter-gatherer societies and the everyday life-world of FOSS. The discussion will focus on the thesis that FOSS practice is based on social sharing and not on processes of exchange. This will entail a negation of the paradigm of economic logic and instead pull a quest for valuable relationships to the forefront of the FOSS sociality. The distinction drawn between the commonly known and widely accepted notion of gift economy and social sharing needs substantiation. The basic principle of the 'gift' is; that the continuing exchange of gifts underlies all our social structures and interactions. Gifts are in this sense likewise tangible and non-tangible artifacts, spanding from food to symbols and metaphysic concepts - and all have in common that they are culturally produced. The principle itself rests on the simple process that the giving of a gift requires the reciever to reciprocate via giving a gift in return and the giver is required to recieve. This exchange of gifts again changes the positions and transforms the singular situation into an ongoing social process of exchange between 'partners', and systems of reciprocity emerge. Hereby establishing lasting and strong social bond, or valuable relationship, between individuals and groups. But, there is one major problem with the domnant interpretations of the principle of the 'gift', then it is quickly combined into the concept of; gift economy. This might not be a problem if the term is placed solitarily within strict ethnographic analysis of "primitive pre-economic societies", though as soon as it enters modern realms it translates 'gifts' into 'commodities'. Commodities are by nature different from gifts, then they are valued in terms of monetary transactions and not as representations of relationships. The world of FOSS is not directed at creation of commodities, and profit maximization, though as I point out, neither is it clearly an expression of 'gift economy' (in the original sense).

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