We are very excited about our newest iPhone app for Clorox: myStain.

It’s a useful, slick app that helps you figure out how to remove stains. Ever wondered how to remove ink stains? ( I have – okay, more than once.) The app gives lots of really useful advice – especially when you’re on-the-go. Like… ever knew you could use hand sanitizer to remove ink stains – who would have thought?

And it’s free, to boot. Which made me think about Chris Anderson’s “free.” Creating useful, free apps to promote products is the way of the future – but what about the past of “free”? Sociologist/anthropologist Marcel Mauss conducted a very interesting study on free stuff in archaic civilizations, published in an intriguing book called The Gift. Mauss argues that gifts only seem to be free, but our social history demonstrates that gifts give rise to reciprocity. In archaic civilizations, free stuff, and the feeling of obligation that accompanies them, helped bind potentially hostile groups together. What does this mean for our increasing usage of “free”? Deep in our psyches, do we feel ever more bound to givers?

In some ways, I suppose it’s only fair. There can’t ever really be a free lunch… unless you drop your burger in your lap by mistake. Then you can download Clorox’s myStain for free!