As someone who was involved in Burning Man for a number of years and also many other offshoot art collectives in the past, I am very interested in the appearance of the ‘Gift Economy’ in everyday life. After all, in the West we have enough ‘stuff’ – much of which does not desperately need to be monetised – so why not give some of those things away? It also has a strong business case – as per this past argument in Harvard Business Review about how it underpins social media interactions.
We already have this offline – at networking events, we give our contacts – we give things to charity shops or to people on Freecycle, so the idea of using the power and wisdom of the crowd to share things we have in abundance or to request things that are hard to find is ideal for the social marketplace.
Impossible.com is an exciting and visionary manifestation of this concept. Instead of focussing on just things we no longer need, it’s more geared towards people coming together to help create something that doesn’t yet exist in another person’s life. While this social platform has received considerable press – sparking a debate on the value of gift economics in today’s society, I’ve decided to ignore many of the reviews and just dive on and have a play myself. Within an hour I’ve connected with an expert on some of the more complex aspects of Facebook development, given some content strategy tips to a startup and posted a request for an event speaker. And people get back quickly! So for those who wonder whether it can be used for reasons of value – my experience has been a definite yes. You can see more on this during Founder Lily Cole’s SXSW interview.
I’ve also asked for an invite to Gifteng – which is more focussed on the giving away of actual goods – so an upgraded version of Freecycle if you will. I look forward to telling you more on this if they accept my invitation to review!