Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Disclaimer: On Blogs and the Gift Economy

It isn’t something I do often, but occasionally I send things to bloggers I follow - tangible tokens of appreciation for their writing and the inspiration or plain entertainment it's brought me. I don’t expect anything back, nor even acknowledgement of receipt. The items I send may be valuable or else something I made myself at little or no cost, and in no way should be interpreted to necessarily reflect the degree of my appreciation. Frankly, it can be a bit arbitrary or whimsical on my part, and probably depends to some extent on how much money is in the beverage budget that week. It’s just a way of expressing thanks for someone’s efforts and perhaps a more lasting form of encouragement. I occasionally also do something like this in my regular life - the only difference being that the recipients are not as likely to be total strangers.

I mention this here for two reasons - one, so that if you do receive something from me unexpectedly, you should know that you’re under no obligation to reciprocate in any way. Regardless of what Marcel Mauss has to say on the matter, there is no unspoken contract of any kind that you’ve been involuntarily entered into. The other more obvious reason is that since I have to ask you for an address and you will naturally wonder why, hopefully this post will serve as a standard disclaimer I can point to without having to go into a lengthy explanation. More than this, if you prefer not to respond or to not give out personal information, that’s fine - and in some ways prudent and perfectly understandable. No offense will be taken. That is all.


Christian said...

Having been on the receiving end of your mailings, I must say that I totally dig what you send out and it is much appreciated. :)

ze bulette said...

Maybe another reason for sharing this post is to point out that (as others in the OSR have said) when you share something on your blog, you are publishing - you are a publisher. There's nothing wrong with making a project, packaging it, and selling it. But the fact that people in the OSR are increasingly doing this doesn't diminish the value of the content that people are putting out via their blogs every day. On the contrary, it often makes me appreciate it that much more.

@Christian: Back at you. Getting something other than bills and advertising in the snail mail is downright retro-cool.

Telecanter said...

Thanks from me too. Ze's sent me more loot than I deserve.

ze bulette said...

Nice try Telecanter, you blackmailing SOB. Wait, you have a blog?