Sam Odio, founder

Now: Freshplum. Then: Divvyshot, sold to Facebook.

Jonathan's Card: a Q&A

August 13 2011

Filed under: Jonathans-Card  

With the internet masses calling for my arrest and making threats against my personal safety, I thought it might be a good time to clear up some misconceptions...many of which were inferred from my original post.

Are you a yuppie? Yes, absolutely. To be clear: I have bought my fair share of Starbucks coffee.

Are you a modern-day robin hood? No, definitely not.

Do you believe donating money to Save the Children is morally superior than spending money on coffee? While "Saving Children" may be the morally correct thing to do I certainly had not intended to imply that I do it any more than the next guy (or gal).

I do believe that we make hard choices every day, and by buying coffee we're inherently making a choice not to spend that money on other causes. My goal in this experiment was to highlight the nature of that hard choice. This is an issue that philosophers have struggled with for hundreds of years. John Stuart Mill, the father of utilitarianism, argues:

A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury. - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

I'm not sure if he's right, but I am interested in having the conversation.

Did you hack (read: crack) the card? Brute-force the PIN? No. I used Jonathan's API and my ghetto script to conduct in-store transfers. No security systems were cracked. I only hacked the card if you believe I used the card to "beat the system."

Did you buy an iPad? Are you donating an iPad to the poor? No, I am selling the gift cards at auction and sending 100% of the proceeds (minus eBay's fees) to Save the Children.

Did you ever intend to buy an iPad? No. I had always planned to give away the card to charity. This is why I started the charity auction before I announced what I had done. It's not about the $625, it's about the social and moral concepts involved.

How can I be sure you're donating the money? eBay works with MissionFish to ensure the donation makes its way to Save the Children. About the program.

When can we expect a post mortem? In a few days, once the flames die down.

You ruined the experiment! Not a question, but I do feel genuinely bad for any distress that I've caused. You can read more in my post: On experiments and outcomes.

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