Jonathanscard -- a geeky 2.0 take on the "give a penny, leave a penny" concept -- has been all over the news recently (if you haven't heard the backstory, this is a good place to start). I'm surprised at all the harsh words over my brother Sam's hacking of the social experiment.
For example, one HackerNews commentator wrote, "Did Sam Odio's blog get hacked? Because I refuse to believe that the Sam whose comments I've been reading on HN would steal from someone. Sam how is what you're doing different from what Anonymous et al are doing? However irritating Jonathan's experiment is, it doesn't give you the right to impose you idea of morality on them" and plenty of other comments.
And It's funny to see those comments on a site titled "HackerNews."
The $625 amount Sam transferred off of Jonathanscard onto another Starbucks card was the exact amount my startup, Socialize donated to the card to promote its SDK Speed Challenge competition. That was not an accident.
Sam took a social experiment and ran a social experiment on it. The money that he transferred was funded by Socialize, and Sam's donating the funds to a good cause. The card has already been bid on eBay past its face value, garnering even more funds for Save the Children (which is an awesome hat trick.)
Jonathanscard was a social experiment, so isn't what happened exactly the point?
Chris writes "I thought his idea was brilliant. Hopefully the ebay sale goes through without a hitch!" http://drod.io/100n1v2C303S2W1e0C1R
re: But you can give the money back to Jonathan and let him decide what to do with it.
Yes Sam offered several times but Jonathan has not responded to the offer.
Sam was not intending to buy an iPad; his intentions were always to "hack the hack".
Where's the pun?
Sam, Sam, Sam. Too funny.
Now if only you could hack the federal reserve and bring hunger to an end!
Also, the fact that he wrote a script to monitor the balance implies that even though the balances between you Sam zero out, he is still taking other peoples money. His last blog post do not reference your company's advertising. Were your companies donations ever meant to be just for the pot? Did you know about Sam's ability to transfer money on the cards from the counter right from the start?
I mean, Sam was sitting in starbucks for five hours for an uninteresting hack, and taking (at least) $625, and still not realising that 'many people were invested in this'. That part of the blog just doesnt add up.
>(BTW, the money can't be put back on the starbucks card; Starbucks turned the card off.)
But you can give the money back to Jonathan and let him decide what to do with it.
> because he thought it was a cool hack
multiple instore transfers at the POS is not very cool or interesting at all really. After he filled up a card to a 500$ limit, why did he go onto a second card? Why did you not stop and tell Jonathan of this vulnerability. Instead - you even stated something like donating 5000$ to the card, that is just advertising and spamming the HN forums for personal gain. If you donate, just donate no need to announce it to the world, and no need to take other peoples money to do it. How much do you donate to charities? Are you and Sam charitable people, or was the ebay sale a last minute idea? Was Sam intending to keep the money and buy an iPad. I feel there is something amiss from the statements and posts Sam has made which seem disingenious and leave a sour taste. pardon the pun.
@fromhn, the money is being donated to starving children in Africa... I don't know about you, but I'd count that as a good intention. If I can read between the lines, I think what you're saying is that it's not the good intention that *you* intended -- you wanted to brighten up a person's day by allowing them to get free coffee. And as per my reply above to @anu, that's totally a valid feeling; I get that.
(BTW, the money can't be put back on the starbucks card; Starbucks turned the card off.)
People didn't 'catch' Sam -- he wrote a blog post about what he did because he thought it was a cool hack (which it was, from a hacking perspective). He's not a thief, he has no need or desire to siphon money off a social experiment and then steal it.
Sam's intentions were to take the hack to another level -- or 'hacking the hack.' Obviously there are many vocal people who feel like by having the control of 'paying it forward' taken away, they also had *hope* in the world taken away. That's a pretty powerful sentiment. It shows that there's this really deep rooted need in all of us to believe that a pay it forward system can succeed.
Some people aren't as negative towards the hack -- one person wrote me via email "And for what its worth, all your brother did was take a social hack another step, I don't really see the problem".
At the end of the day, I think there's an incredible opportunity here for someone to create a "pay it forward" type of system for a charity that hits on all these points that are so important to people. Jonathan said that the people taking from the card were about a 2:1 ratio from those paying onto the card. Seems that as a collective, we take about 2x as often as we give. So as long as some benefactor was willing to fund that differential, the system would work splendidly. But therein lies the rub, and the question: Who's going to cover that cost, and is there a way to bring it up to parity?
@anu, I think your point boils down to control and attitude. While @jonathanscard felt like it gave the world control over something where there previously wasn't any, Sam's hack felt like it took that control away. And that's a valid point. I totally get that. What's really hit me is how much @jonathanscard represented *hope* to people. Hope that the world is a better place, because an anonymous person is putting funds towards the ability of a complete stranger to gain a benefit.
So basically you just hi-jacked the experiment so you could spam your links and 'pretend to donate money to the card'. I was foolish to believe you ever had good intentions when you first added money to the card.
The responsible thing to do is to give all the money back to the starbucks card, and report the vulnerability to Jonathan as soon as you did it, and not milk it out until people caught you out.
It shows you are dishonest and are willing to go to such lengths for your own benefit whilst insulting everyone else who participates in the experiment.
Also we still do not know if Sam (and his group of people) took 625 only. How do you know he didnt take more than that? You can't trust a thief.
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'bout a week ago, I had a great conversation with Sam Snyder. Sam is really, really, really smart. If you haven't been to his site, you should click over there and at least skim until you find something personally fascinating to you (and you will), and then you'll probably be a fan of his for life.
We covered a lot of ground talking. The first thing I made a note of was on reference points for exercise. We were talking why fitness is so enjoyable, such a good thing, but people often don't do it?
Sam said something really insightful - he said people's reference points for fitness are probably thinking about the hard part of starting, when you're getting going it, when you're not into the flow of it. When someone thinks exercise, they don't think about being engaged mind and body, feeling strong, feeling alive. They think about the beginning part where the body and bones and muscles feel creaky and it's hard to do.
I'm paraphrasing - I'm not even capturing the sentiment of it really well, it was a very sharp insight. The takeaway for me was, when thinking about exercise think about the height of enjoyable moments from it. Not the hassle, not the details, not the admin, not the pain. But the most enjoyable moments. Make that your reference point.
"Everything that goes on in the world can be reduced to cause and effect." We talked about tracing ways through cause and effect, and how you could have more predictive power if you did. Economic events, social events, wealth, and so on. We talked about some ways on how you model what was going to happen and make predictions. Fascinating stuff - Sam's playing on a really high mental level.