Penny Arcade, a comic that usually discusses video games and the video game industry, weighs in on Jonathan’s Card–apparently, homo economicus can gain utility by not only defecting and receiving the largest share possible, but also gains utility purely by gaming the experiment. Unfortunately, it appears the test has come to an end (Starbucks deactivated the card) due to abuse and apparent fraud in the experiment (perhaps Tycho-types have won). The premise of the project was to have a publicly available Starbuck’s card that anyone could use. The card started with a balance and anyone with a smart phone could use it to pay for coffee at Starbuck’s. Likewise, anyone could add money to the card to buy coffee for strangers they would likely never meet. The data of transactions was made publicly available, published on twitter, and some graphing has occurred.
It was suggested that this might have been a viral marketing campaign by Starbuck’s, but it appears that this was not the case after all.
A few sites have posted more detailed analysis on the card: