[Homeroast] The gift giving system on this list.

Greg Hammond greg.hammond at mac.com
Fri Dec 17 21:06:28 CST 2010


Interestingly, there was research published recently, and featured in the Wall Street Journal, that showed that people who were able to express gratitud--the receiving side of giving--led happier and healthier lives. It was quite interesting. 

On Dec 17, 2010, at 15:36, Greg's Gmail Address <olawai at gmail.com> wrote:

> That is awesome.  I hope the findings get published some day.  The world
> needs more of this kind of research.  I am also wondering if any of the 42
> students ended up becoming home roasters as a result of that reading (and if
> the ones reading more hateful emails were less likely, etc.).
> 
> On Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 3:21 PM, Jim Gundlach <pecanjim at bellsouth.net>wrote:
> 
>> A few, or some would say many, years ago I started an ongoing gift giving
>> system on this coffee list.  The gift I offered was a new set of burs for a
>> relatively small coffee grinder that I had bought from SweetMaria's back
>> when they were in one of those states that was to the north and possibly a
>> little to the east of me down here in east central Alabama.  I decided not
>> to install the new burrs because I had bought a great grinder from a used
>> restaurant supply store in Atlanta and was never going back to that little
>> thing.  Now typically I would have put the burrs for the smaller grinder up
>> and kept them forever thinking I might find a use for them in the future.
>> But, I am a social scientist and decided to do something that is generally
>> considered immoral these days, conduct an experiment on the members of this
>> group.  From my anthropological studies I knew that every one of the so
>> called simple societies had gift giving rituals that required people to give
>> gifts to people they tend to be in conflict with, for example their spouse's
>> mother.  Now the theory was that this gift giving system was created to
>> reduce personal conflict and help maintain stability in the simple
>> societies.  At that time, this list, like every other email list I had
>> participated in had a relatively high rate of hostile, hateful, mean,
>> vulgar, and even disrespectful email messages posted.  So, to create an
>> ongoing gift giving system among members of this list, I set the requirement
>> that the winner of these burrs would have to offer a gift to the list and
>> that the winner of that gift would have to do the same thing and that the
>> winner of every gift offered in succession would be expected to repeat the
>> offer of something coffee related.  The winner of the burrs remains a member
>> of this list and lived up to the obligation to offer another gift and the
>> ongoing offering of gifts has continued rather irregularly on this list.
>> 
>> After the gift exchanging  system was in place, it seemed to me that the
>> hostile email postings had substantially declined.  To collect data to
>> evaluate the hypothesis that a gift giving system reduces conflict, I
>> assigned the students in a social research methods course that I taught a
>> couple of years later to randomly select a hundred postings to this list
>> from the time before the gift exchange system went into place and another
>> hundred from a time at least six months after the gift exchange system
>> started.  These forty-two students read a fairly large number of postings on
>> this list and, while I don't remember the exact numbers, I recall that the
>> frequency of the hateful emails after gift exchanging was started was less
>> than a third of the frequency counted in the earlier emails.
>> 
>> I never published these findings because I considered it inappropriate, but
>> I do believe list members should know that keeping the gift giving system
>> going is a small price to pay for having this list as pleasant and useful as
>> it is.
>> 
>>      pecan jim
>> 
>> PS:  I wrote this rather quickly and I still don't have all my writing
>> skills I lost in my encephalitis brain infection a little over a year ago,
>> so please excuse rough writing.
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