Give Then Take – The Norms of Reciprocity

Posted: April 10, 2012 in employment

Monday night, new media guru Drew Keller discussed the ideas of “Norms of Reciprocity” in the digital world. Graduate students in the Master of Communication Digital Media program on the University of Washington campus like me always take something valuable away from open and free discussions that Keller initiates.

But this topic hit close to home. Simply stated it’s give, then take.

And that seems to be the operative norm alive in new media today. Having an agenda is fine as long as you put others first. Sharing is the key word today. “Publish then filter” is what Clay Shirkey writes in “Here Comes Everybody.” Put it out there and see what happens. It’s the discussion that matters.

Keller told us if you “do something nice for a human being” they tend to feel gratitude and that drives the desire to reciprocate. This is much like “it’s better to give than receive” motto that Christians try to practice as well. We think about it but all too often fail to practice it at Christmas. Still, it’s a good rule of thumb in today’s every-changing and technologically complex world.

On Monday, I posted a blog about Lee Schneider, a new media documentary producer and blogger for the Huffington Post  I write about people like Schneider because they give back. Schneider is using his skills as a storyteller to actually help get things built. His upcoming documentary project will be targeted to community activists and architects (and you) in an effort to build consensus and hopefully … buildings, the foundation of shelter in Haiti (and perhaps domestically in a city like Detroit).

Not ironically, Schneider’s project is called “Shelter”. Check it out It’s a journalist giving back as he builds consensus and a growing viewership. Schneider will get people to watch because he’s a gifted national storyteller with network news credentials. But his giving spirit just might get you to give.

Given then take. Reciprocity.


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