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The tools of sharing and how they function as design patterns by Christian Crumlish, Erin Malone

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Share and Share Alike

Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

Elie Wiesel

Sharing means that more than one person can see, have, do, talk about, or otherwise relate to the same thing, possibly at the same time. In the real world, sharing means allowing someone else to have access to or control over an object that you currently own or control. This involves a degree of sacrifice. Electronic things made of bits can be replicated or reflected with almost no friction, as compared with real objects.

This might mean sharing is generally easier in a virtual space (than, say, in kindergarten, when giving up the G.I. Joe meant losing control over his adventures), but therefore also less meaningful (or less likely to teach us to play well together, as when we learned that we could plan what G.I. Joe would do next together.

Tools to Enable Organic “Word of Mouth”

Count me among those not fully comfortable with the word “viral” as a way of describing successful runaway distribution. I understand that it’s the common term marketers and entrepreneurs have learned and are comfortable using, and I don’t want to impose a “correct” lingo on things, but I agree with those who suggest that viral growth isn’t the ideal metaphor for healthy, sustainable positive expansion. (It seems one trope away from concepts like metastasis.)

Call it what you will, though, a primary motivation for enabling and encouraging sharing ...

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