Friday, 15 July 2011

Does nobody understand wishes any more?

I have an Amazon wishlist. When people want to get me a gift and are at a loss as to what to get me I direct them to my wishlist. Recently two (of two) such people have come back to me and said they didn't know what to get me from the wishlist.

This is a puzzling response. By definition everything on the list is something that I want, something that I wish for. Gift shoppers can choose something that they particularly want to give me (they want me to have it, there is some additional meaning in that gift, it is in some manner a way of expressing or extending our relationship), or ... just pick something arbitrarily that is within their budget because it is a list of stuff that I want so they can't go wrong.

Clearly I have a small, and possibly self selecting, sample here so not much can be drawn from this experience. It does however pose food for thought and potential HCI/social research. Is the shopping metaphor flawed? Is it instantiated poorly? Have I somehow tainted the interaction by how I have communicated with potential gift givers? Do people mainly select gifts on the basis of how much they like the object? Do people see something they don't like and think "I don't like this, so X won't like it" rather than "This is something X wants, therefore it is a suitable gift"? Is the focus/object/emotional response/purpose of gift giving skewed more towards the giver than we would commonly suppose?

Or more tragically are we as a society paying less attention to wishes, hopes, and dreams of others? Or does everyone just think that my wishlist is full of boring stuff?