While reading on Hacker News I came across a shining example of positive karma. HN member dawson (@dawson) is making a transition from IT (he cofounded a tech startup) to pursue other interests back in school. I wish him good fortune while he shifts his focus, and formulates his next master plan. He's worked on some high utility applications, one example a gigabyte emailer which lead to an acquisition. But it's not his accomplishments that caught my attention this morning. Instead it was a short post he made:
Tell HN: Giving away programming books to HN members
Due to a sudden decision to quit my day job and return to being a student (leaving IT), I have been sorting through all my books and deciding what I'm going to give to charity etc. The following books I felt would be better served within the HN community. They're all as-new condition, most have never been opened. I'm not asking for any money, I will even pay the shipping costs as I know a lot of us here are bootstrapping start-ups and or students themselves. I do live in the UK though, so if you're asking me to send a book to the other side of the world, it would be nice if you did paypal me at least some of the postage :P
The only rule I have is one book per HN user (it might be good to just say why you want the book / how it will be helpful)! I will update each listing below with a username of the receiver.
Books as follows:
 Principles of Biomedical Informatics (Hardcover) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Principles-Biomedical-Informatics-PhD/dp/0123694388/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352239&sr=1-1
 Ruby Programming for Medicine and Biology - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Programming-Medicine-Bartlett-Biomedical-Informatics/dp/0763750905/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352284&sr=1-1
 Bioinformatics for Dummies - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bioinformatics-Dummies-Jean-Michel-Claverie/dp/0470089857/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352308&sr=1-1
 Ferret - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ferret-David-Balmain/dp/0596519400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352339&sr=1-1
 The Ruby Programming Language - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ruby-Programming-Language-David-Flanagan/dp/0596516177/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352356&sr=1-1
 Java All-in-one Desk Reference for Dummies (Paperback) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Java-All-one-Reference-Dummies/dp/0470124512/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352380&sr=1-3
 Building Bioinformatics Solutions: with Perl, R and MySQL (Paperback) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Building-Bioinformatics-Solutions-Perl-MySQL/dp/0199230234/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352412&sr=1-1
 Beginning Ruby on Rails (Wrox Beginning Guides) (Paperback) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginning-Ruby-Rails-Wrox-Guides/dp/0470069155/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352434&sr=1-2
 Designing Virtual Worlds (Paperback) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Designing-Virtual-Worlds-Richard-Bartle/dp/0131018167/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352457&sr=1-1
[10 GONE klaut] Founders at Work - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Founders-Work-Startups-27-Startups-Problem-Solution/dp/1430210788/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267352477&sr=1-1
For those willing to contribute to shipping, my paypal is (*** - don't worry if you can't afford postage, I'll still send the book to you.
Dawson is offering a few technical programming books to a community of proto-founders. You may be asking, "so what?" Books symbolize the greatest example of knowledge transfer and inspiration. I may only read a dozen or two a year, but I constantly refer to technical web documents and PDFs or eBooks. The fact that Dawson was willing to give out a set of programming books and cover shipping to support bootstrapping entrepreneurs is a shining symbol of his gravitas. There's an outside chance that one of the recipients of the books may go on to create a tech business that changes our future.
It's important that we pay attention to even small examples of generosity. Each act of kindess feeds back into the creative startup ecosystem in ways we can't predict or imagine.