Service as a gift

Filed under: Stuff... pfu... — Ilias Bartolini at 5:54 pm on Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the recent past we’ve been bombarded by the mantra: “If you’re not paying, you’re product”

Unfortunately this seems to have become the de facto standard in the technology industry. Software as a service, cloud computing and few other paradigm shifts in the on-line business have enabled this distortion.

Many on-line companies are today offering services for free for various reasons. It’s a good way to attract customers to try their product and start billing later down the line a subset of their users. It’s a good marketing strategy to be recognised as a good on-line citizen. In the worst scenario they are carefully listening to your data communications and generate revenue from the information treasure they’ve collected.

I’m trying to forge and starting to believe in the emergence a different paradigm. I’m going to call it “Service as a gift”.

What’s the difference between “Service as a gift” and offering a service for free?

“Service as a gift” is not a new way to make business or a tool you can use.

“Service as a gift” is linked with the idea of the “gift economy” that for long time has enabled the free and open source movements.
From Wikipedia:

A gift economy, gift culture or gift exchange is a mode of exchange where valuables are not sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards (David J. Cheal - The Gift Economy)

“Service as a gift” is a moral framework about how we treat each other when we offer services on-line.
It’s about recognising that something is more useful for public good. It’s about recognising the privilege of part of our society and enable the less privileged to access services just because we want to give it as a gift and we don’t expect anything back.

“Service as a gift” is about learning different models of how we can continue giving gifts still maintaing a sustainable services offering.

“Service as a gift” is also about not abusing of the gifts we receive and recognising transparently when providers are not acting as good citizens of this ecosystem.

“Service as a gift” is about encouraging and understanding the legal implications of building services with licenses similar to AGPL or providing a Diaspora service implementation.

gift
CC-BY image courtesy of asenat29

One of the ideas I heard from Jim Yong Kim, despite being president of the World Bank organization, during the “social good summit” is that social change often needs the emergence of a social movement of people that start participating actively in this challenge.
“Service as a gift” is the idea of starting a new movement and a network of people and business that want to support this idea.

I would like a place where people and organizations can meet each other to publish the gifts they’re offering.
I would like a place where people and organizations can give each other mutual support when they’re in need.
I might like the ability for people and organizations be recognised for their contribution in the “service as a gift” ecosystem.

What do you think about this idea? I’m on a learning path and sharing it as a gift as well :)

How can we enable it?

‘Give, but give until it hurts.’
- Mother Teresa