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DigiCULT 15
easily.You can have the power of your immediate 150
and, if you have got good people at the boundaries of
other groups, you get into those networks too.'
What were the demands and expectations of a
virtual relationship? asked John Pereira.The Modera-
tor said: `The operative word is trust. If you do not
have a minimum of trust you do not have a real
virtual relationship and there is a problem how to
build up trust in a merely virtual space.'
t was a word they had touched on briefly before,
but now the 13 focused hard on it.The UK Open
University's Dr Paul Mulholland picked it up and
ran with it. He's a research fellow with the Open
University's Knowledge Media Institute
and he
thought trust was actually most easily acquired virtu-
ally. He told the 13: `There is a lot of influence and
information you can derive and analyse to create
trust in a virtual situation. I think it is slightly deter-
ministic to say that it is hard virtually and easy physi-
cally.There is a process that you have to go through.'
Dr Karp agreed: `Yes, there are any number of
useful ways for injecting notions of trust or rendering
a digital presence recognisably trust-able. If you are
certain where something comes from and you have
some external sense of trust for the origin then you
will trust the digital thing.'
Dr Ross, Glasgow University HATII director,
spoke of the number of issues surrounding trust in
the virtual environment. He called them `trust hori-
zons', the often wildly different levels of authentica-
tion required by different communities, such as `those
communities looking for authenti-cation of the notion
that the moon landing was a staged event'. Dr Karp
took the point. It was difficult what he called `identi-
fying the wackos'. It kept the Forum amused until
The debate continued about risks and opportu-
nities of virtual communities. Netherlands National
Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek)
expert Margariet
Knowledge Media
Institute, Milton Keynes,
Netherlands National
Library,The Hague,
DigiCULT recalls forgotten `gift' philosophy
Discussion by the Edinburgh Forum of the `gift
economy' invoked the oeuvre of the largely forgotten
French sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss
(1872-1950), who coined the concept in one of his
lauded, revolutionary écrits politiques,The Gift (Essai
sur le don), in 1925. It was a controversial response to
the early 20th century's burgeoning `market forces'
economic theory that saw its basis in former `barter'
Mauss, a professor of primitive religion at the École
Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, saw a truer origin,
the culture of gift-giving. He used, as an example, the
modern culture that requires gifts like drinks, dinner
invitations and compliments, to be reciprocated. He
contended it was the foundation of customs like the
New Zealand Maori hau (`return present') and, most
notoriously, that of the Kwakiutl people of British
Columbia whose more ambitious chiefs outdid one
another in their generosity to the point of destroying
their own wealth and daring their peers to do better.
For further study, see Marcel Mauss: Give It Away,
by David Graeber (2002) on the US Info Exchange
Website at /analysis/
02/10/11/1246214.shtml, the French Ministry of
Culture Millennium project's Célébrations Nationales
2000 paper, Marcel Mauss, Épinal, 10 mai 1872 - Paris,
1er février 1950, at
celebrations2000/mauss.htm and Gift Economy, by
Ed Phillips (1997), on Wired magazine's site at, which
applies the Mauss theories to the Internet.
They increasingly worked out of formal school
hours, often later at night, involving their families,
neighbours. She had discovered: `They were bringing
extra people into this. It was a different dimension,
something they were doing that the formal education
system did not see.'
Ms Hall applied it to cyberspace: `In virtual space,
you can link into other groups of 150 much more
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