Gift Economies

A while ago I was inspired by a post on gift economies at Glocal Christianity. I was excited because both me and the wife have been slowly expanding and practising this in our own lives and now I had found a term to frame it.

I like freedom, as you can guess by the tone of my blog and I thought I’d share with you some of the ways we express our freedom through gifting and how you can too.

  • F/OSS (free and open source software) such as Linux, Firefox and OpenOffice.org.
  • Freecycle. This is great for getting rid of secondhand things quick or picking up some fairly good quality second hand items when you’re on a limited budget.
  • Geocaching. Whilst not strictly a gift economy (more a barter economy) it still has the principles of giving. Whenever I place a cache I personally give up ownership of the container and items since life’s too short to get hung up over an inexpensive item you place at risk.
  • BookCrossing. I’ve only put one book out there so far, but I have stack of others I bought recently in a sale that I do at some point plan on getting out there.
  • Creative Commons. Usually anything I put on the web I use a CC share-alike attribute. I don’t always put up an icon but the intent is there.
  • Giving generally. No website for this, just traditional generosity. Giving to church, giving to friends in need. We’ve even given a car away (to my brother), this was something I never saw myself doing before.
  • Giving Blood. Admittedly, I’ve only done this once, perhaps I need to be a bit less selfish and do it again when there’s next a blood drive.

Of course, there is much more than just the few examples above, there are other ways of giving we still have to explore:

  • Couch Surfing. Not sure we’ll ever get round to this one but I think it’s ideal for people who are unattached and have the free time.
  • OpenStreetMap. I have used OSM and have very good intentions of one day getting round to editing it to add our road which is missing.
  • Random Acts of Kindness. For some reason we haven’t done much with this but it’s something I totally want to get into. I’m waiting for the right day to come along where I pay for the next person in the queue at the petrol station.. that sort of thing.

OpenStreetMap for Short Trips and Holidays with GPS

Last week I took my wife to Prague Where we enjoyed the Christmas markets and caught up with our Czech friends.

I had brought my Garmin along with Western Europe maps installed looking forward to trying out a few of the caches there. To my surprise, but more to my ignorance, The Western maps do not seem to extend as far as the Czech Republic, so there I was looking at a blank map background.

Thankfully, I did manage to pack the trusty netbook, and the hotel had a free wired Tubes connection so I fired it up and got looking for an OpenStreetMap image file.

A few minutes of googling and I was able to find this site, which provided a free routable gmapsupp.img file of the Czech Republic. Simply connected my Garmin, renamed the original gmapsupp.img and replaced it with this one and we were up and running with routable street names in no time!

the OSM wiki actually maintains a list of Garmin download sites around the world, which is perfect if you’re ever planning a short/holiday trips and don’t want to fork out for expensive proprietary maps.

I hadn’t really got interested in the OSM project before now, but I must admit, it makes me feel like getting my GPSr out and contributing if I find some spare time.


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