There is a lot of talk about the gift economy, so even at Reboot that I went to end of last month.
I believe that the gift economy is driven by the human need to create and evolve and be appreciated. Humans need to be confirmed, some in obvious ways, some in the context of the appreciation of what they create or accomplish. Sometimes the appreciation is in the form of money and often it is not.
I think people are blinded by the fact that people are doing things for free that they do not really have to. For most people in the Western world today their decisions about profession, education and jobs are based mostly out of other factors than how much money they will make (even though it is an important factor of appreciation).
I think it simple comes down to different currencies, where money is one, appreciation of peers is another, the feeling of accomplishment is yet another and so on.
The interesting point is that the Internet allows for a free form of expression, where one using very few resources can express and test their ideas and contribute something with-out knowing that they will get paid or appreciated. It appeals to the Entrepreneur in me, because that is what Entrepreneurship is all about, taking an idea and going with it, and working hard to find an appreciation for what you do in what ever form that may be. To cite Guy Kawasaki, “follow your passion”!