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Moving from free software to free life

[[]] is an independent wiki with information for people who are actively exchanging hospitality.
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Moving from free software / free content to free life

Free software, Wikipedia and why people contribute

There is this addictive quality of giving. Or, to be more precise, it is addictive (and lovely) to see your gift received and run-with. When you post to Wikipedia (or submit a patch to Linux) and see a sentence you added grow to a paragraph (or when another developer goes through and cleans up your code)--in both cases this is a complete stranger--and there is a feeling of power and a feeling of gratitude. You feel power because with only a little effort you precipitated a big change. You feel gratitude because strangers helped you do it. It is our experience that these feelings make you want to do it again. In fact, they make you want to call in sick from work and do it all day.

What happens when people give hospitality to each other

Hospitality networks work the same way. Except instead of just giving information, you are giving the most fundamental needs of human beings: shelter, love, transportation, and food. And it turns out the addiction is just like Wikipedia. You give to someone, and then they give someone else, etc. And when you can track it in a social network on the internet, you can see that your gift goes a very long way and a sentence turns into a paragraph of food, shelter, and love. And now instead of calling in sick, you can quit your job--because someone is housing you. And you can work on giving to others full-time. It is a welcome relief from the tit-for-tat, "no free lunch", distrust-of-strangers mentality of life in the market and the firm.

Hospitality networks have probably existed for ages. Hospitality was one of the reasons the Muslim religion was so successful. ... The first official hospitality network is Servas, founded in 1949. However, with the internet wrapped around every other person on the planet, it is possible to greatly increase the speed and the scope of hospitality exchange.

Open source, open world

There is a reason words that are associated with hospitality--words like open, welcoming, and free--are associated with free software and open source. The "information commons" movement is about making informational entities welcoming to all contributors, modifiers, and explorers. With CouchSurfing, we do the same thing with the real world: making real places and people welcome to all contributors, modifiers, and explorers.

An epidemic of freedom

There is a process by which we take people and things (land, labor, capital) out of the money economy and put them into the commons. Which is: we buy things and give them away. We buy a house and invite someone to stay there for free. Or we rent (buy time) in a house and do the same. Or we buy food for ourselves and a computer and use it to help people. It is called generosity. It is wrongly (we think) seen as a virtue, an aspect of someone's character, but in my experience generosity is more like a contagion--an epidemic--that is sweeping through the world and opening it up: making it hospitable and welcoming and easy to move through instead of someone's private property.

Free life, free time

Free software works because hundreds of thousands of amateurs can contribute in their free time to make large and beautiful projects happen. CouchSurfing works because hundreds of thousands of hosts can contribute in their free time to making life (and time) free.

next steps

There is demand by ToKa and Ibu to collect people working on infrastructures for solidaric/adventure/gift/p2p economics (which we started already at CS seems to be best fit for a virtual place to meet. We understand all the texts about adventure economcis in this wiki as invitation to do so.

Beforehand however we would like to know the opinion of the maintainers of CS on the following questions:

  • Is CS definitly going into a direction providing services for a community of people dedicated to "solidaric or adventure economics" ?
  • Will CS allow code access for people engaged mainly in this direction?
CouchSurfing will probably stick to its mission ("intercultural understanding"), but the ROAK (Joe, please add link :) project will be going in this direction, and the code will be available under a free license. GuakaCS 10:08, 16 March 2007 (EDT) (please remove my tag if you rewrite this into something more prosaic)

See also

(still) only IRL

Other Related Essays

  • DanteCS on Emergence of Metatization : 1 ; 2 ; 3
  • Mauss, M. 1924. The Gift: forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies. London: Routledge. (pdf download english version or french version).


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