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This paper is included in the First Monday Special Issue 3: Internet banking, e-money, and Internet gift economiespublished in December Special Issue editor Mark A. Fox asked authors to submit additional comments regarding their articles. How has the hi-tech gift economy evolved sincewhen the paper was written? This article Looking for married in Barbrook a product of its time. Nearly 8 years later, using this technology is no longer something special. This means that it is impossible to understand my article without remembering the bizarre moment in the lates when so many pundits believed that the Net had almost magical powers.

Led by Wired, dotcom boosters were claiming that the Net was creating the free market only found up to then in neo-classical economics textbooks. Inspired by post-modernist gurus, new media activists were convinced that humanity would soon liberate itself from corporate control by escaping into cyberspace. What intrigued me at the time was how these devotees of irreconcilable ideologies shared a common faith in McLuhan-style technological determinism. The Net — not people — was the subject of history. This demiurge promised the final victory of one — and only one - method of organizing labor: the commodity or the gift.

When I was writing this article, my goal was to attack these almost totalitarian ideologies. The sharing of information over the Net disproved the neo-liberal fantasies of Wired. The leading role of capitalist businesses within the open source movement was incompatible with the anarcho-communist utopia. On the Net, the same piece of information could exist both as a commodity and a gift. Nowadays, this conclusion is hardly controversial. My ideological opponents have long ago left the theoretical battlefield.

Information is shared and sold. Copyright is protected and broken. Capitalists benefit from one advance and lose out from another. Users get for free what they used to pay for and pay for what they used to get for free. Inthe dotcom commodity economy and the hi-tech gift economy are — at one and the same time — in opposition and in symbiosis with each other. What are some current examples of the hi-tech gift economy in action?

Over the past decade, the hi-tech gift economy has moved from the fringes into the mainstream. When I was writing The Hi-Tech Gift Economy, the open source movement was the iconic example of non-commercial production over the Net. In the intervening period, blogging has become the public face of this new way of working. What was once the preserve of a small minority is now a mass phenomenon.

This ideological inconsistency has hidden the social impact of the hi-tech gift economy.

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Yet, when large s of people are engaged in these activities, commercial self-interest is checked by social altruism within the mixed economy of the Net. Before buying information, every sensible person checks whether you can download it for free. What are the impediments and what are the driving forces of the hi-tech gift economy? Is it possible to distinguish between the two? Long ago, Karl Marx pointed out that socialists had been forced to define their own political position to counter attacks by their liberal and conservative critics. It seems to me that we could make a similar observation today about the two sides in the copyright debate.

During the past few decades, American and European politicians have steadily increased and extended the legal privileges of the media corporations. Since the mids, the ideological appeal of the post-industrial future has protected the interests of the copyright owners. Economic prosperity now depends upon the World Trade Organisation imposing copyright protection as a universal obligation.

Ironically, by proclaiming their global ambitions, the media and software corporations have exposed the weakness of their economic position. Across the developing world, governments know that copyright laws are unenforceable. Only the rich can afford to pay Northern prices in the South. If piracy can no longer be tolerated, alternatives must be found.

In Brazil, the ministry of culture is promoting open source software as not just a more affordable product, but also an opportunity to create local employment.

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Inspired by this good example, other governments in the South are launching their own open source initiatives. In the developing world, participating within the hi-tech gift economy is a necessity not a hobby. During the last year, the American movie and music industries have forced the leading file-sharing services to limit unauthorized copying by their users. But, as soon as one threat is seen off, another arises.

Inover three-quarters of online music is still distributed for free. By forcing the issue, the owners of intellectual property have proved that the hard-line definition of copyright is as anachronistic in the North as in the South. Up-and-coming bands long ago learnt that giving away tunes attracts punters Looking for married in Barbrook their gigs and — in due course — sells their music. Yet, in contrast with the South, few politicians in the developed world have accepted the copyright laws need updating for this new dispensation.

But, eventually, legislation must match social reality. Miscegenation is the epitome of the Net. During the Sixties, the New Left created a new form of radical politics: anarcho-communism. Above all, the Situationists and similar groups believed that the tribal gift economy proved that individuals could successfully live together without needing either the state or the market. From May to the late Nineties, this utopian vision of anarcho-communism has inspired community media and DIY culture activists.

Within the universities, the gift economy already was the primary method of socialising labour. From its earliest days, the technical structure and social mores of the Net has ignored intellectual property. Although the system has expanded far beyond the university, the self-interest of Net users perpetuates this hi-tech gift economy.

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As an everyday activity, users circulate free information as e-mail, on listservs, in newsgroups, within on-line conferences and through Web sites. As shown by the Apache and Linux programs, the hi-tech gift economy is even at the forefront of software development.

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Contrary to the purist vision of the New Left, anarcho-communism on the Net can only exist in a compromised form. Money-commodity and gift relations are not just in conflict with each other, but also co-exist in symbiosis. The 'New Economy' of cyberspace is an advanced form of social democracy. The Net is haunted by the disappointed hopes of the Sixties. Because this new technology symbolises another period of rapid change, many contemporary commentators look back to the stalled revolution of thirty years ago to explain what is happening now.

Most famously, the editors of Wired continually pay homage to the New Left values of individual freedom and cultural dissent in their coverage of the Net. However, in their Californian ideology, these ideals of their youth are now going to be realised through technological determinism and free Looking for married in Barbrook.

The politics of ecstasy have been replaced by the economics of greed [ 2 ]. Ironically, the New Left emerged in response to the 'sell-out' of an earlier generation. By the end of the Fifties, the heroes of the anti-fascist struggle had become the guardians of Cold War orthodoxies. Even within the arts, avant-garde experimentation had been transformed into fashionable styles of consumer society.

The adoption of innovative styles and new techniques was no longer subversive. Frustrated with the recuperation of their parents' generation, young people started looking for new methods of cultural and social activism. Above all, the Situationists proclaimed that the epoch of the political vanguard and the artistic avant-garde had passed. Instead of following the intellectual elite, everyone should instead determine their own destinies.

The role played by a passive These New Left activists wanted to create opportunities for everyone to express their own hopes, dreams and desires.

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The Hegelian 'grand narrative' would culminate in the supersession of all mediations separating people from each other. Yet, despite their Hegelian modernism, the Situationists believed that the utopian future had been prefigured in the tribal past.

For example, tribes in Polynesia organised themselves around the potlatch: the circulation of gifts. Within these societies, this gift economy bound people together into tribes and encouraged cooperation between different tribes. In contrast with the atomisation and alienation of bourgeois society, potlatches required intimate contacts and emotional authenticity [ 4 ].

According to the Situationists, the tribal gift economy demonstrated that individuals could successfully live together without needing either the state or the market. After the New Left revolution, people would recreate this idyllic condition: anarcho-communism [ 5 ]. However, the Situationists could not escape from the elitist tradition of the avant-garde. Despite their invocation of Hegel and Marx, the Situationists remained haunted by Nietzsche and Lenin. As in earlier generations, the rhetoric of mass participation simultaneously justified the leadership of the intellectual elite.

Anarcho-communism was therefore transformed into the 'mark of distinction' for the New Left vanguard. As a consequence, the giving of gifts was seen as the absolute antithesis of market competition. There could be no compromise between tribal authenticity and bourgeois alienation. Looking for married in Barbrook the social revolution, the potlatch would completely supplant the commodity [ 6 ].

In the two decades following the May revolution, this purist vision of anarcho-communism inspired community media activists. For instance, the radical 'free radio' stations created by New Left militants in France and Italy refused all funding from state and commercial sources.

Instead, these projects tried to survive through donations of time and money from their supporters. Emancipatory media supposedly could only be produced within the gift economy [ 7 ].

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During the late-Seventies, pro-situ attitudes were further popularised by the punk movement. Although rapidly commercialised, this sub-culture did encourage its members to form their own bands, make their own fashions and publish their own fanzines. This participatory ethic still shapes innovatory music and radical politics today. From raves to environmental protests, the spirit of May '68 lives on within the DIY culture of the Nineties. The gift is supposedly about to replace the commodity [ 8 ]. Despite originally being invented for the U.

The Pentagon initially did try to restrict the unofficial uses of its computer network. However, it soon became obvious that the Net could only be successfully developed by letting its users build the system for themselves. Within the scientific community, the gift economy has long been the primary method of socialising labour.

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