Digital Swarms for Good - Jonathan's Card

In the past I have talked about the "Gift Economy" concept (a term most recently coined by author Howard Rheingold) being critical to successfully unlocking the potential of mobility in the future.  (Gift Economies are defined by users investing effort/taking action for the benefit of the greater good versus expecting something in return as is the case in a transaction economy)  There are plenty of recent examples around us like Wikipedia, Participatory sensing networks like CitySense, or even the recent Arab Spring with regime changes coordinated via SMS/social messaging.  I now have an example right in front of me thanks to one of my colleagues at Mobiquity, Jonathan Stark, our VP of Mobile Architecture (and author of several leading books on iOS and Android Development).  Jonathan recently launched a "gift economy" type experiment by posting a picture of his Starbucks Card online and allowing anyone that wanted or needed a cup of coffee to pay for it with a picture if his card downloaded on the screen of the mobile device.  He also made  the balance of the card public via twitter.  Within the first week, he saw a dramatic surge in both users buying cups of coffee with the card and donors looking to add to the card as its balance fell (at one point the balance reached as high as $3,500!).  While this may seem like an obscure experiment, it has already reached national news attention on MSNBC ( given both the philanthropic and technology angle.  It also illustrates the "pebble in the pond" impact of mobile + social where a small change/signal from one user can quickly spread to others (like a Swarm).  And more importantly, it shows the power of mobility to enable individual citizens to do good for others no matter where they are located in the world.  The Gift Economy is strong.  You just need to know where to look!
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This page contains a single entry by Scott A. Snyder published on August 11, 2011 3:52 PM.

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