This morning I read in the Boston Globe about the creation of Handmeon, a “gift ecology” website which aims to introduce gift-giving rings inspired by the practices of the South Pacific Kula tribe, where significant objects are passed along to confer social status, with no expectation of return.  Here and now, part of the appeal is the nonconsumer, temporary nature of ownership within the Handmeon ecology, as the gifts are supposed to be handed-on after a few weeks of enjoyment by the gift receiver.  Another side of the appeal is the creation of story – in this sense, second grade teachers are way ahead as this sounds like a  Flat Stanley for grownups – since each gift has a little blog of its own where temporary owners can write about the meaning of the item for them.  The Globe article raises the question whether this sort of gift-giving may at times be problematic, as the gift comes with the burden of passing it on.  It seems to me that in part what you are giving when you give someone a handmeon is the item itself with its history and meaning, but also the gift of belonging to a network of this kind in the first place.  So as you think about whether the recipient would appreciate the gift itself, you have to think about whether the person would appreciate the gift of a new way of giving gifts.  So now the question I have for you, and it would be kind of cool to see it posted on your blog with a photo if you’re so inspired, is, What item do you have in your home that you would consider giving away as a handmeon (if any)?  or  What item have you received that you would consider handing on?  (not in a white elephant kind of way).  Books, by the way, have been handed on in this way for a long time… (why can’t I remember the name of the website I’m thinking of?  Here’s one and another, but neither is quite what I meant).There was supposed to be a part 2 of this post, about another website I heard about recently, but I can’t remember the name of that one, either, nor has any web search turned up a lead.  This one is where you find volunteer opportunities, bank hours, and can then trade in those hours for services.  So, for example, if I tutored for six hours, I could find someone else on the site and “spend” my hours on, I don’t know, music or language lessons.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?  I remember it had a sort of catchy name. 


Filed under article, blogging, books, randomness

5 responses to “Gifted

  1. Hello Ms. Frizzle!

    Thanks for picking up on the Handmeon mention. When we started working on the site, we originally envisioned people exchanging gifts within their existing social circles. As the article mentions, for some/many, it can be an obligation their existing circles. Hence, we’ve added capabilities to make it easy to exchange gifts with people already in the Handmeon ecology. That is, with people who already “get” the gift ecology idea. It’s too early to know if this will be popular, but it has expanded the way we conceptualize the social topology.

    There have been some other media stories that fills out some of the ideas in the Globe piece. In particular, Seven Days in VT: and Vermont Public Radio:

    Was Book Crossing the other book site you were thinking of?

    Michael J.

  2. The book site you’re probably thinking of is BookCrossing.

    I think the idea of passing something on to someone to enjoy for a short time and then hand on again is a lovely idea. Other than books (which seem perfect in many ways) I can’t think of other items yet, but it’s an interesting question to ponder.

  3. Wow, major grammatical sloppiness in my first comment. And on the blog of an educator, too. How embarrassing. My apologies. That’s what I get for typing quickly while the family waited for me to finish.

  4. Pingback: My Own Thoughts » Things I read today worth passing on

  5. As mathmom already mentioned, books are a natural handmeon. I’d like to try with a music CD. Perhaps a favorite musical (Hairspray is a great pick-me-up…) would be a good choice.

    If you find the answer to your missing part 2, please pass it along because it sounds fascinating.

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