They are the basic, primal form of social interaction. Social exchange can be very explicit or implicit (i.e. emergent) For example eBay feedback has evolved into a tit-for-tat social game: give me a feedback, Iâ€™ll give you one.Trading is an explicit social exchange. Example: trading in World of Warcraft; trading in Mogi-Mogi (a GPS-based game in Tokyo to collect virtual objects.)
â€œGiftingâ€ is an implicit social exchange, youâ€™re not forced to do it but the system makes you do it.
Examples: NetMarble (Korea); HabboHotel (you can buy object with your points and give gifts); Helios that targets the MySpace generation, ability to give ringtones, wallpapers, etc. If you want to create interesting social dynamics you have to allow users to exchange gifts. Itâ€™s a very powerful social exchange.
MySpace has both implicit and explicit social exchanges: â€œadd friendsâ€ is explicit but comments are implicit.
I was reminded of that by the post on if:book about the recent interview with Junot DÃaz, the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Nobody learns to read outside of a collective. We forget â€“ because we read and we read alone â€“ we forget that we learn to read collectively. We learn with our peers, and a teacher teaches us. . . . When you read a book â€“ and especially like this book, where there’s gonna be Spanish, there’s gonna be historical references, there’s gonna be nerdish, as they say, forget the elvish, the nerdish, there’s gonna be fanboy stuff, there’s gonna be talk about Morgoth, about dark side, about John Brunner’s science fiction books, about Asimov, about Bova, about Andre Norton, about E. E. Doc Smith’s Lensman, you know all this weird esoteric stuff, amongst all these Dominican references, Caribbean references, urban black American references, all this nerd talk, all this kind of hip “we went to college” speak â€“ the reason that’s all there in one place is the same reason that reading is a collective enterprise. When we did not know a word when we were young and learning, we would ask someone. We forgot â€“ I think many of us forget â€“ that praxis, that fundamental praxis. What I want is for people to read and remember that reading, while we may practice it alone, in solitude, it arose out of a collective learning and out of a collective exchange . . . .
I wonder if a return to reading as a collective enterprise might be the kind of social engagement described by Amy Jo Kim. A few weeks ago I preached a sermon in chapel about in which I talked about open source spirituality, a move toward collective spiritual practices that result in a spirituality greater than the sum of the parts. Might collective reading be such a spiritual practice?