Dec 10 2010
It’s the stuff that tears apart friendships. Your friend Amanda just had a birthday. Before hand, she says, “I know times are tough for everyone, so don’t worry about gifts. Just your presence at my (expensive destination) birthday party is all I need.”
So her consternation when opening your gift – a mounted singing trout (yes, they’re still around) – came as a surprise to you. She was bummed, but she also has a problem with passive-aggressive communication techniques. If only there was a way she could honestly articulate her wish list, say, behind the protective shield of the Internet, in a way that made her look slightly less obsessed with fleeting material possessions.
Well now there is a way. It’s called giftknow, and with the holidays just around the corner, it makes wish list-making (and buying) easy, fun, and practically guiltless. And it’s free.
giftknow’s process is simple: (1) Sign up for a new account or log in with your Facebook account, (2) Add the toolbar to your favorite browser, (3) Add Items to your Wishlist having searched the ‘Net, and (4) Tell your friends (and soon-to-be-former-friends) about it.
I created an account and automatically got my personalized WishList URL that I could subsequently send to friends. Next, I downloaded the toolbar based on my browser of choice (Firefox.) Scratch that – there was no downloading; it was even easier than that. I simply dragged a link from the page into my Bookmarks toolbar. Cool! And I was off and running. I found this rad TV. I clicked on “Add to giftknow,” and a window popped up. The item’s information was already pre-populated (how’d they do that?); all I had to do was add the price (a cool $1,299.) And that was that.
Fast forward 10 minutes: I amassed a very impressive array of gifts that, if I may say so, reflect my worldly and Renaissance Man-esque vibe (eg. cast iron bird fireplace, Bob Marley’s “Legend,” steaks, a mink coat, tomato seeds, and unicorn band-aids.) Don’t believe me? Go check out my WishList! And, as you’ll see from that link, the personalized WishList rules, because when you click “Buy It!” next to an item, it takes you to that original Web site. And of course, there is Facebook. By using your Facebook credentials, you can spread the word to all your friends in two simple clicks. Then you’ll know who your real “friends” are.
Ultimately, the site is easy to navigate, with an elegant use of white space and soft colors (pink and green.) The site kinda looks like a gift in and of itself. Intentional? Perhaps. And since the model is so simple, users won’t be confused: the FAQ page is brief and to-the-point. In fact, speaking of the model, giftknow’s offering is well-aligned with some modern-day facts:
Fact #1: People don’t like getting gnarly gifts. (Not that I have anything against last Christmas’ extra-large maroon sweater from Kohl’s. OK, well maybe I do.)
Fact #2: There are cool gifts found in the nooks and crannies of the Web that your friends, much less sweet ol’ grandma – who shrieked in terror and whipped out a crucifix when seeing her grandkids on Skype for the first time – simply never heard of. For example, my friend has a nifty, homemade gift shop based out of her apartment in San Francisco. giftknow can be a godsend for her and similar small businesses. Think outside the gift-box, people!
Fact #3: We are, by nature, shy and concerned with what the world thinks of us. To write up a gift list in Word and e-mail it to our friends is pathetic. But the beauty (is that the word?) of the Web allows us to be more open, more sharing, and in this case, more inclined to pass along cool stuff we want. giftknow provides an ideal interface is which to do this; it doesn’t limit the registry experience to just weddings and baby showers, and why should it? It’s the same idea, after all. I mean, bloated, ice cream-craving pregnant women shouldn’t have all the fun.
Epilogue: In case you were wondering, things worked out with you and Amanda. She and David, in fact, joined an apocalyptic cult whose muddled belief system involves Aztec cave-paintings, the fluctuations of the Euro, and the secret knowledge gleaned from playing Dr. Phil talk show backwards. So in the grand scheme of things, your talking trout gift wasn’t that big of a deal. Time heals all wounds.