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Gifting technologies (12 Nov 2004)
Two aspects of future work on gifting design are important to highlight here. The first is to continue the process sketched in this paper: arriving at design insights and possibilities by looking at the motivations, social practice, and technical use of gifting communities. The other involves developing and testing various designs for applications and services - particularly for families, health care and public service, education, and large organizations. In addition to individual applications, it will be important to study service–level implementations. Many altruistic gifting services ultimately fail because of their own initial success; increased popularity often results in increased operational costs. One possibility worth exploring is the development of models where such services work as lightweight "front ends" to community members who are willing to share some of the gifting distribution burden.

In conclusion, the research to date suggests that there are good reasons to begin looking at technology design "from the gifter’s perspective." There seem to be fundamentally different technology needs and design problems that appear when a designer looks at the world from the perspective of someone who wants to gift - and to gift more easily, effectively, and meaningfully. To echo the beginning of this paper, it seems possible that even the creation of powerful, comprehensive, intuitive, and economically viable services for acquiring digital goods may not answer all the strong needs expressed in sharing phenomena. In fact, it may be that when the current legal and economic controversies surrounding file sharing have been resolved, powerful and intuitive mechanisms for gifting may be one of the ways that successful services and applications distinguish themselves. And the same could hold true for technology in general; perhaps gifting technologies can be for the benefit of all.
Article URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_12/mcgee/index.html

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