Gifting To Create a World of Plenty

mass mosaic mission

It’s nice to be able to write a positive story about goodness. Free goodness coming to this community and the world, thanks to the generosity and innovation of Burners.

One of the great things about Burning Man is if you need something, the community will often rally to provide. Not everyone can afford a Private Concierge to arrange their camp, designer costumes, or a $1000 scalper ticket. Some Burners are left to be radically self-reliant. Others are happy to help whoever they can.

The Wolf and Snorky, Burning Man 2010

The Wolf and Snorky, Burning Man 2010

When I first went to Burning Man in 1998, I rushed back to Australia and told my friend Snorky all about it. “Sounds great man”, he said. “Can’t wait to go one day”. That day finally came in 2010. Burner Snorky hit the ground running, he was ready for Burning Man before he was born! The only difference being a virgin made, compared to the next year, was more people wanting to give him stuff.

His Burning Man experience inspired him to use his other experience: his background of being an Internet guru from the “Dot Com days” to create Mass Mosaic: a free service where anyone with wants can connect with anyone who has something to share. Maybe you can trade, maybe you can gift, maybe you can barter or sell. They are trying to remove scarcity from the sharing economy, and replace it with abundance.

Burning Man has always been an experiment in civilization without economy. The so-called “Gift economy” combines giving people things they didn’t know they wanted, and generously helping out Burners in need.

Mass Mosaic have now created Burners Exchange (any type of exchange) and Burners Gifting (gifting only), special mosaics just for Burners. It’s totally free. It helps Burners who Have something to offer, connect with those who Want something. Transactions can be gifts, trades, or for money.

Snorky describes it like this:

snorky time capsuleBurning Man teaches us that everybody is abundant in something and when that is brought to the playa, we see that really anything is possible. Mass Mosaic brings that energy beyond the playa. When everybody lists what they want and have and how they are open to exchange it, then the abundance of what is often peoples hidden value is brought to the forefront. Mass Mosaic has created a special group for Burners to exchange within. Burners aren’t limited to exchanging within that group though, they can create their own groups and exchange with anybody on the site too.

Abundance for all – sounds good to me. Try it now.

Mass Mosaic’s co-founder Snorky says:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe all are constantly exchanging with the world. From breathing air to getting gas for our cars, exchange is needed to sustain. The natural world can help us understand the fundamentals of this exchange. In nature, exact right amount of resources are exchanged for survival without the friction of money or social structures. At Burning Man, not having many of our modern comforts (i.e. being in nature) allows us to live very closely to the natural principles of exchange, and move with their ebb and flow.  It unlocks an animalistic and tribal attunement in the process.

Burning Man reminds us, through the gift economy and the collective ethos, that exchange is about much more than making money. This unlocks a new dimension of potential that expresses itself as abundance, happiness, and cultural flourishing.

Part of the way that Burning Man helps us exchange is by removing the “zero-sum” dynamic, whereby the person with the resource charges the maximum possible and the person in need parts with as much money as they can bear. This essentially cancels out what otherwise could be a synergistic experience.

Mass Mosaic uses the same principles in nature and like Burning Man facilitates exchange with the environment in a more advantageous way for all parties. But Messed Mosaic goes further by allowing every type of exchange that’s possible in any tribe. The website allows gifting, borrowing, sharing, trading, renting, buying, selling, collaborating, reusing and open exchange. The holistic result is that everyone has far more opportunity to live abundantly.

Mass Mosaic models how exchange has happened with humanity since the beginning of time. There wasn’t always money! These means came to serve in need and have become overused in the process.

Burning Man teaches us about the village economy but in the context of a modern society. In the village, your relationships were the most important part of your survival – not your financial resources!

Another lesson from Mass Mosaic and Burning Man is that ownership is decreasing in importance. It’s the realization that all we are really after is the benefits of owning something, not the ownership itself! When you have the benefits without the maintenance, expenses, and other responsibilities that come with ownership, you are able to live more flexibly and economically.

Perhaps all we are seeking to learn is that we are complete. We are seeking to learn that the world loves us and supports us. We are seeking to learn that our communities well-being is inexplicably tied to our own. Perhaps we are seeking to learn that we are all one, expressing our individuality like an infinite mosaic of color that make up one big picture.

The structure of community is deeply connected to how easily that community sustains and thrives. It’s time we proactively design and define this structure so it is not dictated by the existing biased systems that rely dominantly on capitalism as a means to live healthy and happy lives. Both Burning Man and Mass Mosaic do this in a way that is proving relevant on larger and larger scales. 

To further this experiment, Mass Mosaic has created different groups and hubs for Burning Man on their website with the hopes that it helps the Burner Community live abundantly on and off the playa using its principles. Check it out at [link]

Co-founder Rob Jameson says the system is modelled on “tensegrity“, a word coined by Buckminster Fuller

Tensegrity is a complementary pair of forces. One is continuous pulling in and the other discontinuous, pushing.

This can be seen all around us in the physical world. From wheel rims to bridges, there are examples of tensegrity structures all around us, often as strongest structures and systems we build. Another example of tensegrity structure is a geodesic dome. The struts connect in a series of triangles so that the discontinuous pushing and continuous pulling makes the dome get stronger as more weight is added.

Wants and Haves projected on a building at the O+ Festival in Brooklyn

Wants and Haves projected on a building at the O+ Festival in Brooklyn

…It is a shame that the mainstream society believes that in order to be productive, the requirement is to work 40 hours per week. The entire point of technology is to leverage its capability so that we can thrive together more easily. This does not mean that machines should replace us, but rather that a job that used to take someone 1000 hours to do, now takes someone one hour to manage and the machine can do the rest automatically. This is the nature of progress, and our lives should have less restriction because of it. 

…We are beginning to see tensegrity models gain traction in society. Burning Man is a great example, which relies dominantly on the gift economy to exchange in a pop-up civilization. The gift economy is a simple type of tensegrity economy. It’s clear from the Burning Man events, which arise from nothing in the middle of the desert, that this model can produce tremendous cultural and social value.

Burning Man is the beginning of the shift, and eventually will be far surpassed by models that are more deeply connected to the principle of tensegrity, rather than a specific embodiment of it (like gifting economy).

New York-based Mass Mosaic recently won a place in Startfast, an East coast startup incubator and accelerator similar to San Francisco’s famous YCombinator. The idea behind their software is a world of plenty and abundance. Try out their Beta version and tell us what you think. I can see this idea being very useful to Burners.

Their CTO has some good words to say on workplace diversity and Radical Inclusion at SC:

0714-lw-alison-gianotto_628798I am not an expert on women in technology. I am an expert on technology. However I can say that for many of us, simply being female in technology often forces you to champion the cause. I have been asked to speak about women in technology at technical conferences (versus talking about technology at technical conferences) because the assumption is that being female, I would want to present on that issue.

When I evaluate potential jobs, I consider what impact that may have on the perception of women in technology, and when I get up to speak at conferences, I always have the nagging feeling that my performance on stage may directly impact people’s perception of all women in tech since they don’t see enough of us up there to have a broader view.

Whether I truly felt confident or not, I presented myself as very self-assured in almost every situation, which is different than many women, who are taught from an early age that being too confident, too self-assured, is unladylike. This self-assuredness leads to labels like “bossy,” and another one that starts with a “b” that SC Magazine won’t print. The same characteristics encouraged in young men are often considered problematic in young women. Maybe this played a part in my experiences. Maybe not. I know confident women that still had a much harder time than I did.

Technology is competitive, and I’ve seen this industry chew up and spit out men who lacked this perceived level of confidence, too. I don’t think that’s the whole story, but it may play a part, and it’s important to realize that being perceived as “tough” or “thick-skinned” often isn’t enough, nor should it be required. Would you rather have the most self-assured employee or the most talented? 

It’s time to realize that diversity in technology matters because the most arrogant person in the room isn’t always the most talented, and overlooking those people who don’t fit our arbitrary notions of what “real” techies look like severely limits our talent pool. When done right, technology is intensely creative, and diverse communities thrive because of, not in spite of, the variety of experiences we all bring and the passions that drive us. 

Limiting our choice of candidates is what truly weakens us. This isn’t about holding hands and singing campfire songs, and it’s not about filling quotas. This is about growing up and recognizing that when you want to hire people smarter than you, sometimes they’re not going to look or act like you

Read more at SC magazine.

amanda palmer future of music

Amanda Palmer is one of the Dresden Dolls

Recently, Mass Mosaic teamed up with Amanda Fucking Palmer, who wanted to promote her book The Art of Asking. She was looking for an easy way that people who had read the book could pass it on to others who wanted to read it, but couldn’t afford it. Mass Mosaic fit this need so well, but also opened an unexpected new market: people who bought the book for complete strangers, just because they wanted it. Within a couple of hours, Amazon completely sold out of Amanda’s book, as people all started Gifting it all over the world.

amanda palmer

Mass Mosaic has described the explosion of Gifting The Art Of Asking in this heart-warming blog post.

I helped out and gave some Kindle editions of the book to people in different countries who wanted it. One of them blogged about it here.

It feels good to give. Mass Mosaic is an invention that promotes kindness and helping others – isn’t this what it’s all about?

Try Burners Exchange or Burners Gifting for yourself, or use Mass Mosaic to give someone a book or a Christmas miracle. To add to the mosaics, you have to sign up with Mass Mosaic, login and click the Join Mosaic button.


3 comments on “Gifting To Create a World of Plenty

  1. Pingback: Did We Just Get Cyber Attacked? | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: Well Deserved | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. Pingback: Does Commodification Matter? | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

Leave a Reply