In a very humorous rapid-fire delivery on YouTube, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the popular social voting news Web site Reddit tells a story how one humpback whale became Internet famous. See how "Greenpeace," became the Captain Ahab in pursuit of a new name for Moby Dick on the Social Media High Seas!
Mr. Splashypants is currently being tracked with a satellite tag by Greenpeace as a part of its Great Whale Trail Expedition,which was working to raise awareness about whales threatened by the Japanese Fisheries Agency's plan to kill 50 humpback whales. The whale's name was chosen in an online poll that garnered attention from several websites, including Boing Boing and Fark, and quickly became an Internet meme when over 100,000 voters chalked up 78% of the votes on Reddit in favor of the name.
Reddit, co-founded by Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, has become one of the World Wide Web's most striking examples of democracy in action. Founded in 2005, it grew a user base of tens of thousands and quickly attracted the attention of publisher Condé Nast, which acquired it in 2006. Unlike "social bookmarking" sites (such as Delicious), Reddit fashions itself a platform for "social news," where the readers themselves control the front page by voting stories up above and down below the fold.
An example of Reddit's democratic process in action is demonstrated here when Ohanian delivers an address at the TED Conference pertaining to how that now famous whale's name came to be.
Great lessons to share: "Internet is an equal playing field." "It's OK to lose control." "Be genuine and takeAlexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit yourself a little less seriously!" My major take-away here is that what Ohanian accomplished in just 4 minutes in representing his company in such a fashion should make a lot of people want to consider using his service. His ability to take control of what initially might have appeared as an insignificant issue and transform it into a cause to highlight and underscore the power of social media and the 'wisdom of crowds' was a remarkable feat.
Hats off to Alexis Ohanian! While I have favored Digg as my social bookmarking service of record in the past, the thought leadership exemplified by Ohanian makes me want to test the Reddit waters. How about you?