IT’S HARD TO KNOW when it began. Perhaps it started with my first web page. That moment I typed out my first cautious lines of HTML, and uploaded the document to the mysterious sounding “web server.”

Hello world.

The words spoke back at me from the monitor. With cautious joy I realized these letters were now published to the Internet. My 16 year old mind pictured the thousands of visitors that could now pour onto my site, eager to devour this fresh bit of content added to the infant catalogue of websites growing everyday.

Part of me wanted to remove the page immediately. Who was I to publish something on the web? After all, it would be years before I understood the label: consumer. This is a being that does not create, but only devours the creative products of others – Disney, Hasbro, Nintendo. I didn’t know it in my childhood, but the “imagineering industry” was well underway, with billions of dollars invested and earned by outsourcing creativity for legions of children.

And yet, suddenly, as the single sentence blinked in front of my eyes, it was like a new being speaking back to me. Hello world. I had created life. And I would never be the same again.

Today, almost 15 years since Al Gore coined the term “The Internet” the landscape has changed dramatically. Blogging has become the most significant shift in publishing since the printing press, allowing thousands to share their rawest emotions and (often) inane commentary on just about everything. YouTube allowed us to see each other and share our captured moments. And finally, Facebook and Twitter ushered in the era of “social networking” (on the shoulders of Myspace and Friendster).

The result is a culture of sharing.

Here is what we see today on the web: millions of web videos, music tracks, essays, blog posts, photographs and more, offered simply for no cost (other than a computer and Internet connection). Without even realizing it, the web has become the largest gift economy ever.

To understand the scope of the shift, we must first understand how the dominant cultural economic model has worked for the past 75 years.

Read my full article on Shareable: Why Crowdfunding Creativity Is Just The Beginning

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