Cultures of Exchange and Gift economies are traditional anthropological topics. Famous are the Kula exchange in Melanesia, the Potlatch in Northwestern America, the Moka and often cited books are among others Marcel Mauss: The Gift and Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time.
Contrary to what many (esp. postmodernists) believe, modernisation and globalisation do not automatically lead to more individualism and "fluidity". Internet and social software lead to the creation of new networks and to a revitalisation of cultures of exchange and gift economies.
As Judd Antin comments, Alireza Doostdar describes in his recent article "The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging" some of the ways that bloggers exchange links, trackbacks, and comments as a way of developing social networks and expanding blog readership.
Many of us know collaborative projects like the encyclopedia Wikipedia, photosharing at flickr and copyright based on sharing like Creative Commons. People help each other in online-forums and what should we all do without all the great freeware software, partly developed by the Open Source community?
One of the best places to stay informed on social software and networks is Dina Mehta's Blog "Conversations with Dina"
There are many articles on internet gift economy.
Jem Matzan: The gift economy and free software (NewsForge) (updated link)
There are many more articles on the internet gift economy: http://opensource.mit.edu/online_papers.php
(post inspired by comments on More and more blogging anthropologists - but the digital divide persists)
This post caused some funny comments in the Livejournal-community:
so . . . many . . . social . . . software . . . and . . . gift . . . economy . . . links . . .
Further down in in the comment-section apropos writes:
"all these new anthro blogs are freaking me out!"
It is funny that you mention the ‘help’ people give each other - i recently read this piece in Newsweek where a japanese bloger talks about dipping page views on her friend’s blog - to boost which she returned to it again and again - and she emailed him asking him to return the favour… I have blogged about it - read it sometime - healthy networking is one thing but the scratch each other’s back is just another!
(I gave the link here but your blog rejected it as being too long - anyways, the post is called, do you sumo on your blog?)
Hi Charu, thanks for your comment. The character-limit is an attempt to prevent link-spam. It’s possible to divide the links in two mit space in between, though. I’ll fix it afterwards, would be interesting to read your post and the article
UPDATE: Link to Charu’s post:
lorenz, thanks for this great post. I hope to follow through the links soon. I mentioned this here