Social Internet Services as Tools for Creating Social Media

    In October 2011, our Internet gift - giving service The gift of gift was invited to participate in the VIII international scientific and practical interdisciplinary symposium Reflective processes and management , conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    The key word, by which we found an intersection with purely philosophical problems, was the word "environment", and to be more precise, the concept of "social environment" . We have long ago introduced this word into the everyday language of our development team in order to better understand what we are doing, to clarify the methodology and priorities of our development, as well as to indicate the place of the service we are developing in the complex space of modern Internet startups.

    The preparation for the philosophical conference provoked us, at last, to put our thoughts into a text, which now I would like to bring to the attention of the IT community. It seems to us that the concepts formulated by us can be useful to all those who are engaged in the development of social Internet services or who think of themselves as a social entrepreneur . In this text, using the concept of “social environment” as an example of an Internet gift service, an attempt is made to isolate a certain type of social Internet service and look at them in the broad context of human society as such, its structure and transformation capabilities .

    What is a Gift

    The gift of gift is an international community in which people give each other their things and services free of charge and free of charge, without requiring anything in return. The mission of the community is to jointly learn how to give and accept as a gift and pass this ability on to the rest of the world. The community is guided by the traditions of Dar-Dar and interacts with the help of the donation service, .

    The project was launched at the end of 2008 by a group of enthusiasts in the form of the Internet service Over the three years of the project’s existence, more than 100 thousand people from hundreds of cities joined it (from Moscow about 30 thousand), it should be noted that most of the people joined the community thanks to the invitation received from their friends. The main countries participating in donation at the moment are Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan. Every day, more than 2000 items and services are given as gifts. A variety of and sometimes unexpected things are presented: starting with books, clothes, mobile phones, and ending with the services of an interpreter, computer repair, and even a car.

    The process of giving is as follows. The donor publishes information about his gift and his location. Those who need a thing are noted in those who want a gift, explaining why they need this thing at the moment. After that, the donor analyzes the wording of desires and profiles of those who wish and selects the one to whom, in his personal opinion, the gift thing will be most useful, then he makes an appointment with this person and gives him his gift. For a thing received as a gift, it is customary to write public gratitude to certify to others that the gift really happened and benefited the person being gifted. The giving process is governed by a code of conduct (called the “Daru-dar traditions”) adopted by the community. So, among other things, the code says, for example, that it is considered a disgrace to ask or offer something in exchange, or it says,

    It was possible at Dar-Dar to create all the necessary conditions for thousands of people to be able to give their things to each other with pleasure, as was previously possible only in the circle of very close people. In another way, we can say that a special social environment of giving was created., characterized by the fact that it was in it that many actions of gratuitous donation to strangers were possible. The main issues that it would be interesting to cover with the example of the Gift in this article are how this social environment of donation is structured, from which elements it is made up, how it is supported, how it develops, how it is connected with other social environments, what impact it has on of each person individually and for the whole society as a whole, as well as what reflective processes in this environment proceed, how they are created and stimulated.

    The gift of gift as a social environment

    First of all, by the social environment we mean a set of certain conditions that increase the likelihood of certain events in human society . For example, the popularity of businesses of a certain orientation is often not only a consequence of the economic conditionality of a given territory, but also a consequence of the impact of the social environment in which people create these businesses. By reflexive processes of the social environment, we understand those processes by which the existing environment changes, develops, improves, interacts with other environments. For example, the adoption of certain laws and the abolition of others in a given area of ​​society is an example of the reflection of a particular environment and ways to change it, as well as ways of interacting with this environment with other environments. With the help of what the social environment of gratuitous gift is created and from which key elements is composed?

    The word "gift"

    To begin with, the Gift of Dar introduces its language into collective use . The key word in this language is the word “gift” embedded in the name of the project. Previously, this word denoted events characteristic of subjects that exceeded the scale of an ordinary person in the scale of their activity. So, one could say “the gift of God”, or “the gift of nature”, or “the gift of the state”, etc. In the language of Daru-dara, the word “gift” was associated with everyday activities commensurate with the ordinary person. This word began to be called all those things that each person can share with others without any harm to himself, without making a sacrifice from this, without remaining at a loss.

    With the help of this word, some previously hidden reality was revealed, accessible to everyone if desired. If you manage to put the above meaning into the word “gift”, you will be able to present everything that is associated with this word. The word “gift” provoked the appearance of other words derived from it, forming a special language: the giver, the willing, the gifted, to offer as a gift, to wish for a gift, to thank, thanks, etc.

    On the other hand, the word “gift” was contrastedin everyday language, the word “gift”, which is associated with all, first of all, with acts of giving for a particular occasion or occasion. A gift, however, suggests that it is not necessary to have a reason for the act of giving, it is enough to realize that you have something that you can share with others, and you also need your desire to do a good and kind deed.

    The Dar-Dar language, which thousands of people are beginning to use, creates a space in the collective consciousness for the awareness of the possibility of giving and personal participation in it. Without such a language, such awareness would be harder to achieve. After all, it is one thing when you personally come to realize the possibility of selfless acts, and it is another thing when you understand that in the language that many people use, this awareness also exists, which means that your possible behavior has already been approved by others.

    Experience of a new social gift practice

    A gift as a service offers a specific scenario that must be followed in order to give something as a gift. Simplified, this scenario consists of the following steps:
    • Offer a gift of your thing or service in the form of text and photos
    • The study of all those who desired the gift, expressing their request in the text
    • The choice of the person who wishes to be gifted and the promise of his gift to him
    • Organization of a meeting with the gifted and transfer of his gift to him
    • Receive thanks for your gift in the form of text and photos
    At the same time, when executing this scenario, one must adhere to a certain code of conduct, which indicates the inadmissibility of certain actions and the desirability of others, for example:
    • Do not ask or offer anything in exchange
    • Do not rush to promise your gift, but do not delay it
    • Do not give your gift to the first comer
    • Don't queue for nothing
    • Do not beg and do not beg
    • Thank you for the gift that was given to you
    Using the gratuitous donation service, a person is convinced on his personal experience, as well as on the example of other participants, that donating to strangers is possible, brings benefit and pleasure if certain social interaction rituals are followed and certain principles are not violated. He retains the knowledge that such relationships are permissible and do not contradict common sense, and in the future he necessarily repeats the gift in one form or another, using the service or outside it. Thus, the experience gained is passed on to the following people, both new members of the community, and people who are not members of the community. So a new collective practice arises - to donate your things and services free of charge, to perceive this as a good and useful tradition.

    And in society, a collective sense of the reality and naturalness of gift is formed, which is perceived as given, as correctness, and not as an exception to the rule. People begin to trust each other much more, their fear of uncertainty and insecurity in front of the world decreases, it is easier for them to find a common language and understanding, help and support each other, easier to participate in joint affairs.

    Awareness of the reality of alternatives

    In itself, the long-term existence of the Daru-Dar project serves as a clear example for the whole society that things and services between people can be moved not only by the principle of exchange, but also by the principle of gift. Such a living example creates in the collective consciousness another, alternative, possibility of human interaction, which earlier, if it was realized, it was only theoretically (theories of communism), or it was not thought on such a large scale (within the framework of narrow circles of acquaintances and friends), or had a slightly different semantic dimension (in the format of charity, for example).

    At a minimum, this visual opportunity should contribute to an increase in the number of daily gratuitous acts carried out by people who know about the Gift and therefore are aware of the reality and likelihood of such relationships between people. As a maximum, the possibility of the existence of such a project as the Gift of Dar proved in practice creates in the space of collective imagination the reality of completely different projects, built in the same way from the premise of interaction and cooperation of people on a gratuitous or grateful basis.

    For example, it seems increasingly likely that projects based on the social practice of gratuitous payments will appear. When many products are provided free of charge, and a person is free to pay them at the rate of “pay as much as you want”, i.e. based on how much these products or services really benefitted him, as well as the capabilities of his personal budget. Once the density of the donated environment reaches a certain critical point, the appearance of such products will become a very likely reality.

    Community Daru Dara device

    Through the internet service , thousands of people who are unfamiliar with each other in their daily lives began to interact. The regular interaction that builds around gift sharing scenarios has led to the formation of an online donor community . The online donor community , as well as the online service through which this community interacts, give rise to a donation environment . In order to understand how this environment is maintained, it would be right to consider how the community is organized, which is the direct carrier and distributor of the new social environment.

    The principle of transparency (publicity)

    The principle of maximum transparency is the basis of relations on the Gift of Gift. Each person’s deed in the system is recorded in his profile: anyone can see what you gave, to whom and why, what you received as a gift, how you formulated your need, how you wrote thanks for the gifts received. Such transparency makes it difficult to abuse the trust of donors: it is impossible to only receive a gift, and you don’t give anything to yourself, or to receive a lot of identical things as a gift, if you have actually satisfied your urgent need, or receive something as a gift so that then sell it on another resource. Such attempts immediately become apparent to everyone else and just stop dealing with you.

    On the other hand, the transparency of the profile allows a person not to forget about what he has done in the community, what benefit has already brought. In this way, a personal story of each participant is created, a story of his involvement with the gift community. Each time, returning to the community and looking at his profile, a person recalls what he has already done and sees what he can do more. A community exists only insofar as community members regularly reproduce activities around which the community itself has formed. Most people perform such an activity when they see how others perform it, when they repeat after someone else. A transparent profile just allows you to see what others are doing, what they are doing, and repeat after them, provoking further repetition in the future by other people.

    The principle of self-organization

    Another major principle inherent in the Gift of the Gift is the principle of self-organization . The service has designed tools with which community members themselves solve most of the problems that are inevitable in any large community of people. For example, in the publication of each gift there is a button “This is not a gift”, which everyone can click on. When a certain number of votes is collected, the publication automatically disappears from the public domain and does not count as a gift to the donor. And next to each comment there is a button “This is an unworthy comment”, which is also available to every user. If a person writes comments that are contrary to the Code of Conduct adopted on the site, and they are considered unworthy, then he is deprived of the right to write comments, and everyone sees this.

    Such a system allows you to distribute the burden of community management between the maximum number of people and thus minimize the cost of administering the system. Inappropriate behavior of people is not punished by the abstract authority of the administration, but is disapproved by the collective opinion of the entire community, which is a thousand times more effective for recognizing the inadmissibility of certain actions. Having all the necessary set of tools for self-organization, each project participant understands that maintaining a favorable atmosphere within the community depends on his personal efforts.

    Reflective processes of the gift

    The gift of gift proves a simple truth with its existence: in order for a process - whether universal modernization or universal gift - to develop successfully, you just need to give people maximum freedom, but at the same time create for them all the necessary infrastructure for interaction with each other. When people realize that much is envied by their personal efforts, they actively turn on and begin to generate processes, independently improving the inherent weaknesses and shortcomings of any system. The environment itself begins to generate activities that were not originally laid in the design of the system.

    So, voluntary postmen appeared at the time- accomplices who themselves took on the task: to simplify the transfer of gifts between cities. These postmen collect gifts from different users and form one common premise from them, with which they themselves go to the post office and go through all the obstacles of an inefficient state postal system, saving time, money and nerves of other people. Another type of activity, self-generated within the Gift, is associated with the role of caretakers. Caretakers- these are accomplices who voluntarily committed themselves to help everyone to observe both formal and informal traditions of the community. Caretakers strive to understand everything that happens in the community of donors, each time answering the question of how to relate to the problem or situation that has arisen, what to do in this or that case, and share their accumulated personal experience with other accomplices. There are accomplices who actively participate in the discussion of how to improve the service, which features to add to it, and which to change in order to make it easier and more enjoyable. There are accomplices who help beginners to get accustomed to the traditions of the Dar-Dar, as well as informally established norms of behavior and customs.

    At one time, in all major cities, with a large number of participants, such a form of activity was born by itself asGeneral meetings of giving . People agreed on a regular basis, every week, to meet everyone at the same time in order to give out all their gifts promised for the week. This allowed each participant, instead of many separate meetings related to both the transfer and receipt of the gift, to come to only one large general meeting in order to intersect at the same time with all his gifted and donors. Obviously, this saves a lot of personal time and reduces the likelihood of not meeting with those with whom you agreed.

    The code itself, guided by which the donor community interacts, was created not in the form of clear and unambiguous rules that cannot be violated, but in the form of general principlesthat everyone should strive for. This allows the community to independently, through collective efforts, give concrete meaning to the norms of behavior accepted in the community. For example, the code contains a clause regarding how one should not express one's desire for a gift: “Do not feel the pity of the donor. It’s indecent to put a person in a situation in which he has no choice, and if he does not give his gift to you, he will do very badly in terms of morality and humanity. ” However, each specific desire is counted as unworthy by the community members themselves - depending on what the accepted norm of “compassion” is in the community.

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