Surfing The Gift Economy
The popular travel community from Couchsurfing highlights the resurgence of an culture of sharing.
Want to travel the world sleeping on couches? The increasingly popular website Couchsurfing helps you do just that.
What could explain the success of a community that depends so much on good will, trust, and openness? Journalist David Bollier sees couch surfing as an expression of a “gift economy.” In gift economies, goods are freely given without promises of anything in return. Couch surfers don’t simply get a cheaper place to stay in a foreign city, they get a community as well. While there are no formal agreements, often times hosts will take the visitors on city tours, out to parties, or meet for coffee.
Bollier explains more:
Call it semi-organized gift exchange. It’s a Web-assisted gift economy for travelers that thrives simply because people are basically good and enjoy meeting strangers from other places. Couchsurfers understand that they are not just getting a free bed; there is an implied social contract that they will spend some time eating or drinking or touring the city with the host. Some hosts take visitors to parties or tourist sites, others just meet them for coffee.
[via On The Commons]
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