Book Review – World of Giving

getMediaInterface.jpgWorld of Giving, by Jeffrey Inaba and C-Lab*
(available on Amazon USA and UK.)

Lars Müller Publishers says: In this important exploration of the sentiments of our time, World of Giving explains the motivations for why we give and offers examples of individuals, foundations, governments, multinationals and NGOs helping others. Jeffrey Inaba and C-Lab provide an understanding of the process of working toward a greater good by describing actions that build bridges between goodwill and need, intention and realization. The authors show that gifts form the foundation of all kinds of human interaction with each one establishing a unique relationship between giver and receiver. They illustrate that the gift too alters in meaning and value, detailing how it transforms as it circulates through what are at times a complex series of transactions.

In place of the pursuit of personal wealth, World of Giving presents a mindset that is based on generosity and revolves around the gesture of giving. The book argues that giving is a powerful act that gains social momentum, benefiting not just the immediate recipient but typically others as well. Acknowledging that each of us is inclined to give, this illuminating publication reveals how a beneficent deed contributes to an environment of increasing generosity in addition to enhancing the capabilities of its recipient. As a shared value, giving can grow to be a meaningful collective force that affects the world in surprising ways.


Read also the introduction to the book by Jeffrey Inaba.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie donated $ 1 million to aid Haiti quake relief, Swiss supermarket Migros bestows 0.5 % of its retail and 1 % of its wholesale turnover to art and culture as part of a programme called Migros Culture Percentage.

On the other end of the generosity spectrum, Italy’s billionaire prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, had proposed to put up in three of his own houses some of the thousands of people made homeless by the earthquake that shake Abruzzo in April last year. The offer has often been regarded as nothing more than a PR move (rumours has it that he never even respected his promise.)


The book World of Giving navigates the world of generosity with brio and erudition. Whether they are good old christian charity, sincere kindness or corporate philanthropy, acts of generosity are everywhere you’d care to look.

From the velvet monkey that puts its own life at risk by emitting calls to warn other troop members of the approaching predator to the welfare pioneers of the Calvinist Dutch Republic. From the rise of US philanthropy to Communism’s re-conceptualization of the act of giving, etc. World of Giving explores generosity through times and cultures.

Philosopher, and historian David Hume described men as being fundamentally altruistic. Philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith believed that men are motivated chiefly by self-interest, even when they display some generosity. World of Giving has a more balanced approach. Far from being a mere attempt to substitute Gordon Gekko’s ‘Greed is good’ with a call for openhandedness, the book uncovers the mechanisms and strategies of giving. And its economics, as anyone involved in thebusiness of giving away free digital goods can confirm.

0calfreoooiiogron9.jpgJeffrey Inaba / INABA / C-Lab, Donor Hall (detail), 2007

* i can’t recommend enough their Volume magazine.

Related: Open City: Designing Coexistence – Part 3, Reciprocity.