I think it's great that Google has a program for recognizing open source developers; that said, they seem to be going a bit far afield with their "give people something cool they might not have yet". I think they'd do better to send people Android phones -- at least that is something people would be more likely to use.
Then again, it's also a little like Google giving out t-shirts. Maybe they're assuming that everybody could have one more?
On the one hand, it's nice to be acknowledged for work done. On the other... In my more recent full-time corporate gigs, I encountered various "reward" programs.
For example, one was for 5 years' service. The "reward" consisted of an email notification containing a link to an external web site and some authentication method, along with so many "points" of credit based on the circumstance. I could pick any item whose point count did not exceed my allocation. I think I ended up with a toaster (that's what 5 years service is worth, apparently, and since my current toaster toasted unevenly, my choice was made).
My point? This "acknowledgment" was outsourced to a firm that does this for a living. With rewards that are fairly cheesy and/or that have inflated "values" assigned to them. It felt more like an "anti-acknowledgement".
My firm either sent a list (in Excel, perhaps -- hah!) of events and corresponding email addresses, or let the third party troll some HR database for same. I'm sure that they paid some fee based upon headcount and/or events.
The third party sent your selection to fulfillment outfit (i.e. warehouse) that mailed you your selection. If your manager was not particularly paying attention, the whole thing could and did happen without their participation, at all.
So... Google appears to be assigning somewhat larger "values" to some of these rewards, and to be doing them externally. And so, they are also actively reaching out to these external contacts.
On the other hand, at a glance it has the same sort of feel. Assigning "values" (perhaps/likely at some set of pre-determined levels) in conjunction with some third party who's been contracted for fulfillment. And a typically bland and... "corporate" set of reward items.
I agree with the other commenter here who suggested just sending them a phone (or tablet?). That would seem to be more "Googlish" to me and, for all that it might represent less "choice", might represent more value from the perspective of the recipient. For those who don't need it, we almost always have friends who could use one. Sort of in line with the "sharing" perspective under which many of the external contributions that aided Google were made, in the first time.
TL;DR: I would suggest keeping the gifts more "Googlish" (branded random generic "stuff" doesn't count) and avoiding scenarios akin to my 5 year anniversary (and a few others I could mention).
P.S. I'll add that I am a formally acknowledged (publicly listed) external contributor to Google, although I didn't receive anything for it. If someone had offered, and cash weren't on the table, a phone or tablet would have been nice. If I didn't need it, I would have had several family and friends to choose from in passing it on. And -- a "free" gift from Google (via me) would have been good marketing to them, as well.
So, I'm just some random guy with his thoughts, here. But... again, stay "Google" and don't go all "corporate" (e.g. "corporate rewards and fulfillment).
And there's some great ideas on Quirky - I wish I'd thought of Digits (http://www.quirky.com/products/37) amongst others.
Google (or anyone, I guess) could set up a donation system so these blankets end up somewhere useful, rather than just sitting in a cupboard.
I don't know why people don't like blankets. I freakin' love blankets.
Is it so hard to say "thanks" for an unexpected gift?
(And to the mods, please remove the [sic]. Yes, it's in the original, but it's wrong and will certainly lead to clicks from people trying to figure out what was really written.)
> Google is sending out blankets [sic[sic]] to open-source developers
raises hand, looks sheepish I couldn't figure out what word was close to "blankets".
Though I DID immediately think of this when I read the story title: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_disease_and_epi...
Giving out blankets has a nasty connotation.
In this case, I think the intention is to make explicit that yes, they really are sending blankets.
¹[sic] in original.
(And keep in mind that [sic] is not shorthand for "ha ha you're stupid" even though that's how it usually gets used on the Internet.)
I should mention, weird Google loot not withstanding, that I think this program is awesome. Giving Google devs an outlet for giving something back to the Open Source devs that they like is really appreciated. Obviously financial contributions are even better but that can be logistically tricky and this seems like an easy middle-ground.
(I've been a recipient of both the individual award, and projects I've worked on have been recipients of grants from the OSPO).
The director: Someone tell me what we are going to do with the 3 thousand extra blankets we acquired for our 2012 employee bonus program?
The smart guy: Why not give them to those developers who write open source software and give them for free? Those poor people must need blankets!
People start to stand up and clap, slowly and firm.
After reading and discovering that it was literally just blankets I am as baffled as before.
Not insinuating that Google is trying to kill you, it was just the first thing I thought of.