It’s the gift economy

Sometime in the distant past when I put the link to my Amazon wishlist here on the site, I wondered if it would actually inspire people to buy me stuff from it or if it was just a vanity move (I use that wishlist as much as a bookmark system as an actual list of things I’d like to buy someday). I figure it was mostly a vanity thing; I truly did not expect anyone to buy me anything from it.

So imagine my surprise when a package from Amazon came to the door, with the book Halting State (newly added to my wishlist) inside. At first it was real head-scratcher; I didn’t remember at first that I had published the wishlist link and then I was confused because it listed me at an older mailing address (one of something like the 6(!) addresses that Amazon had on file that had slipped through the cracks) but had made it here anyhow.

(I know, I’m supposed to be out on the leading edge of this internet thing, right?)

Once I realized what had happened, I was astounded; a PHP developer named Dave Ross had found my PHP stemmer script and it had saved him a lot of work (his words) and in gratitude, he bought the book for me. I guess I was astounded because I put those PHP scripts online for free, and I enjoy helping people out who have questions about them and incorporating improvements that they send to me; it’s an open source thing, I suppose, and I’m just glad I can put something out there that’s useful to people, but the thought of compensation didn’t occur to me in this case.

Okay, enough being naive, get to the point. Thank you, Dave, for the extremely generous gift. I’m glad I was (indirectly) able to help you out. And I hope I can repay the favor sometime in the future.

It’s the gift economy. Sometimes it rears up and slaps you in the face. In a good way.