Alternative Economic Paradigms: Holiday Alternatives

By Shae Hadden | Bio

Perhaps as a reaction to the annual peak of consumerism (the pre and post-Christmas holiday season sales), I’m thinking these days of ways of alternative non-material gifts for my friends. What comes to mind are the types of things we, in our technology-driven world, may be taking for granted as everyday conveniences. Yet, in many parts of the world, these are considered luxuries.

It’s easy enough now to share images and videos of ourselves with either the world at large or a select group of friends and colleagues using sites like Flickr, Vimeo,, Facebook and YouTube. When it comes to gifts for loved ones, creative items like online photo galleries, calendars, books, photographic prints, and ‘home-made’ videos made with images you’ve taken are one-of-a-kind presents that say “I took the time to create this for you…instead of spending 5 minutes at a store buying something made in a factory.”

And you don’t have to rely on your ability to shoot extraordinary photos or video. As prices for consumer-level photography and video electronics drop, more and more ‘amateurs’ are able to play with these media and share their creative work online. When they apply Creative Commons Licences to the materials they publish, they are, essentially, giving away their rights to their online digital media. Depending on the type of licence they’ve applied to the image or video, anyone can republish it, edit (or in the case of video, annotate) it or link to it with or without attribution. This has impacted both the photography and video industries in that prices for ‘stock’ footage have dropped: there is just too much quality content available now through user-generated online sources. Which again, makes it easier for consumers to find exactly the right images to create high-quality creative gifts.

For some people, getting cited or mentioned on Wikipedia is on their ‘wish list’. It’s easy to give them their wish. Anyone can become a contributor to this free global encyclopedia. To contribute, just create an account and log in. There are currently over 11 million ‘users’ (contributors). Wikipedia content is also under a Creative Commons Share Attribution Licence…so you could even capture an entry you create or modify and then turn it into a poster or other brochure to share as ‘the gift’ (just include an attribution).

If you know of other ways to give holiday gifts that are essentially ‘free’ and environmentally friendly, please share them with us by submitting a comment.

© 2009 Shae Hadden. All rights reserved.

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