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Potlatch and gift giving: What about Social Media?

December 17, 2008

16tier2_6001This week, there was this great NY Times article about “potlatches” and gift-giving in difficult economic times.

What can the Kwakwaka’wakw teach us in our hard times? Here, courtesy of some of their elders and the anthropologists who have studied the potlatch, are some lessons for dealing with the holiday crunch:

•   Simplify and economize.tierney190
•    Control your animosity.
•    But a little showing off is still fine.
•    Turnabout is fair play.
•    Don’t forget your enemies.
•    Share the wealth.
•    Ignore the Scrooges.

Click here for more information on what the author means by each heading.

While the article focuses on gift giving, I wonder how these lessons might be applied to Social Media in general? Since we’re in the midst of an emerging online culture that is dominated by collaborative spaces, it seems like reciprocity and some of the functions of Native Americans potlatches might be useful in other contexts. Especially since so much Social Media is free, after all…

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