Media and communication

Flattr & CouchSurfing II: Taking a stance

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Earlier discussions on how the Internet’s anonymity is likely to lead to reduced sense of moral responsibility for what one says, exemplified in Internet hate, can with the examination of CS and Flattr appear to be only one side of the medium’s conditions (Kollock, 1999). With the two aforementioned networks, we can see a greater opportunity for more politically correct behavior and taking a higher moral responsibility towards other cultures and creators. Flattr enables taking responsibility in giving back when you have used a content or service and you may take responsibility for culture to be created. Flattr goes furthest of the two networks in this aspect by encouraging those who have created a material that is offered freely to be able to get paid for it, which can open doors to new ideas about how to use the Internet in the future. Flattr says we should have an option to pay for something we have experienced as valuable. CS in turn opens up the opportunity to live with and get to know new people and other cultures, and simultaneously self- acting host of others, and could possibly bring together individuals with different economic conditions that otherwise would not be in the same environment. We can see it as taking responsibility for creating tolerance between cultures and people in opening up for diversity and the opportunity to get to know what had previously been unknown.

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Discourse around gift culture is ever present in the two networks. CS uses a more politically neutral and positive tone when they talk about a vocation to give, they stay at it being positive that people meet, it promotes humanity and therefore it is important to give. Flattr use a more deliberate tone when they talk about giving money to the creators who created the content, it is understood that the members understand that the creators have a need for money. A premise that is always at present is the need that if you take something out of the network or the Internet, you should give something back. As in CS, if there is to be hosts for members to visit, it requires that the members also give back and act host to others.

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At the same time both networks emphasizes volunteerism for the users. Flattr has a wider range in meaning when they talk about the Internet as a whole and how all contents shall be freely available and volunteered to pay for, for those who want and consider it meaningful. CS has a narrower scope of the term when talking about the network itself but never about Internet content outside of it. It is likely that CS did not want to take a controversial position in the debate about the Internet’s content and payment which Flattr pronounced wishes. It obviously means a risk for a network to take a stand against large institutions in society.

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