Analytical dimensions for online gift giving: 'other-oriented' contributions in virtual communities
by Jorgen Skageby
International Journal of Web Based Communities (IJWBC), Vol. 3, No. 1, 2007

Abstract: This paper presents five analytical dimensions regarding online gift giving. The dimensions were derived through a six-month ethnographic study of two co-evolving online communities (one web-based and one application-based). The dimensions are: initiative (active/passive), direction (public/private), incentive (enforced/voluntary), identification (anonymous/recognised) and limitation (open/restrictive). Gifting is a central human activity in many communities, both offline and online. Also, it is, in many ways, a convivial and collaborative activity with a rich history of functioning as a social membrane, which could be at the very core of community management. However, research on the relational and structural embeddedness of gifting in technology-mediated contexts is in its infancy. Consequently, it is suggested that the presented gifting dimensions will support the comparison of similar technologies with dissimilar social effects; that they can aid in using social practices to simplify, or improve, a technical implementation; and that they provide a clearer picture of the requirements of gifting technologies and the social objectives and needs of gifting individuals.

Online publication date: Sun, 27-May-2007

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