Crafting Rituals for Digital Gifting (work in progress)

Ritual Probe Kit. Holding a photo frame.

Gift exchange is a ritual practice imbued with current values of social relationship. Thus, rituals of gift exchange differ from one place to another or one generation to the other. While the Internet and smart devices have transformed the form of gift and the manner of exchange by enabling dynamic online gifting, the design of interfaces enabling digital gifting services still confined to Mauss’ dyadic exchange protocol – give, receive, reciprocate. This paper speculates the traditional formalities of gift exchange and contemplates rituals for digital gifting by reflecting the rituals of everyday use of digital communication media. In this paper, we present qualitative research by introducing Ritual Probe, a bespoke diary booklet, where participants are sensitised to retrospectively articulate rituals from their everyday life. Collection of rituals span various continuums of actions from the social to the private, the routine to the rare, and the periodic to the irregular. We suggest three avenues of digital gifting that resonate with our up-to-date description of quotidian rituals in computer-mediated social exchange: IoT for gifting in domestic settings; gifting as a linkage of episodic interactions in a social context; and the design of money gifts for wider society.

Inner page of the Ritual Diary
Ritual Probe Kits
A participant demonstrating his ritual.