The central idea of the project is still the same. I'm fascinated by the unbelievable power of a gift given out of joy. At the last Awesome Grant party, when I had people fill out cards with offers of gifts that would give them joy to give, the results were amazing! People offered things like chocolate cheesecake, sailing lessons, professional massage, and I ended up with an offer for 2 free concert tickets!
What I've found is that subtle changes to an environment can make drastic differences in how humans interact with each other, kind of like moving a stone at the top of a creek can change how the water flows over it and change the course of the whole river.
So I still want to build gift vending machines, that allow people to anonymously exchange gifts given out of joy, and I want to make the plans open-source, and I want to distribute the machines to community spaces, non-profits, schools, and community boards, to allow strangers who occupy the same spaces to meet each other through gifts.
I've modified the design to be simpler to produce, and with less specialized tools. Now it requires only a router, a drill press, and a 2.75" drill bit. This will make the project easier to reproduce if someone chooses to replicate the open-source designs. It also means more cuts are made by drilling 2.75" holes, which means each machine produces 6 cut-out wooden circles, or "Tokens".
The users write their offers on these wooden "tokens" instead of paper. The machines can still use paper if blank tokens aren't available, but I found that paper easily gets lost or torn in your pocket. By letting people write their offers on wooden tokens (which are actually a waste product of production of the machines) you give them something real and tangible they can hold onto. By using the "token" format to convey a gift, the project subverts dominant assumptions about money and value.
Funded by Portland, OR (March 2013)