It is often overlooked that humans can be enormously generous. I discovered this through my internship at Patient Opinion, a form of gift economy in itself, driven entirely by patient’s experience (as explained by their Cheif Exec Paul Hodgkin here). I was able to develop this understanding by talking to and learning from the people behind some of the most innovative online services around (MyPolice and Enabled by Design, to name but a few!)
It seems that if people are given the opportunity, they will more than often give their gift of their own personal experiences and knowledge to play a part in improving- or even better, creating their services. A recent report by NESTA and nef on ‘The Challenge of Co-Production’ has indicated that an obsession with targets and efficiency doesn’t necessarily work, as well as not showing any proof of extending the services, or making people more self-sufficient- which leads to an increasing creeping demand- which, when considering factors such as the present economy and an ageing population, is no good thing. It’s time to look past what a person needs from a service, and to explore what they are able and willing to bring.
The rise of debate in co-production can help us look to solve some of these problems- and provides us with the opportunity to put the ideas of gift economies into practice. Aspects such as engagement and involvement are often overlooked in strict financial and efficiency terms- but embraced and carried out in the right way with the spirit of co-production could help people make their services more cost effective, responsive and sustainable in the long run. They just need to be asked in the right way
So my main thoughts from this- what is the relationship between gift economies and co-production? What is the best way to use the web with this? How can we make the most of the generous nature and wealth of experience that individuals can hold? where does government fit in with all this?
I’m looking forward to exploring these questions in 2010- and hope that through the projects I’m involved in I am able to help show that giving feels good- and not just in the festive season. I’m lucky enough to be working with some inspiration people who have great vision for this area. It’s going to be an exciting new year!