||The Internet provides a remarkable demonstration of the persistence of the gift in contemporary commerce. Net enthusiasts seem prepared to donate much to the common good. This generous spirit ought to strike resonances with the culture of design, which generally promotes a creative ethos of generosity, conspicuous display, and exuberance. But the cornucopia of the gift economy is offset by net culture's recent leanings towards consumerism. This book challenges the supposed gift society of the Internet, and supplants the gift by a more compelling metaphor, enjoyed in certain quarters of contemporary design, that of theft, rule breaking, and transgression. The relationship between design thinking and the network economy is characterized by the reckless spirit of the trickster, the crosser of boundaries, and the malingerer in the hybrid and uncertain condition of the threshold. The book thus presents a designer's view of the network economy, drawing on insights from design theorists, economists, philosophers and cultural theorists. It provides valuable insights for theorists of human-computer interaction, architects, designers, and those interested in registering the source and direction of the impulse to create, innovate, and design.
The book examines five metaphors: household, machine, game, gift and threshold. Economic theory is grounded in the household. The romantics and Marx claimed that labor is dominated by the rampant machinery of capitalism. The computer game represents a potent exemplar of new media economics. The gift is presented as precursor to commercial exchange. Coyne subjects each metaphor to scrutiny in terms of how it deals with the threshold, in other words as it is dissected by the cynic or manipulated by the trickster, and other liminal dwellers in the network economy.
'What’s shaping the culture of the Internet? This turns out to be a surprisingly tricky question, one that Richard Coyne explores with verve and erudition.'
--Albert Borgmann, author of Holding On to Reality