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Blogger Proves One Red Paper Clip Can Indeed Buy A House
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james cromwell



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 184
Blogger Proves One Red Paper Clip Can Indeed Buy A House  Reply with quote  

http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/internet/07/10/paper.clip.to.house.ap/index.html

(AP) -- Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house sounds like a cheesy magic trick or a phony instance of resourcefulness on the 1980s TV show "MacGyver."

Kyle MacDonald, however, has pulled it off.

One year ago, the 26-year-old blogger from Montreal set out to barter one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until he had a house.

On Wednesday the quest is ending as envisioned: MacDonald is due to become the proud owner of a three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home provided by the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan. MacDonald and his girlfriend, Dominique Dupuis, expect to move there in early September.

"This is such a cool community project. It feels right," MacDonald said. "And now that I think about it, I can't believe that another small town didn't think of it. It will literally put them on the map."

What's in it for the town? The answer requires a quick MacDonald recap, featuring a menagerie of friendly folks, radio talk show hosts and aging celebrities, all bound together by the Internet.

It began when MacDonald, an aspiring writer, doer of odd jobs and apartment dweller, advertised in the barter section of the Craigslist Web site that he wanted something bigger or better for one red paper clip. He traded it for a fish-shaped pen, and posted on Craigslist again and again.

Roaming Canada and the United States, he exchanged the pen for a ceramic knob, and in turn: a camping stove, a generator, a beer keg and Budweiser sign, a snowmobile, a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck and a recording contract. Next, in April, he got himself really close, obtaining a year's rent in Phoenix.

His adventure became an Internet blockbuster. He did Canadian and Japanese TV and "Good Morning America." He made dozens of local radio appearances -- one of which, in Los Angeles, was heard by a man who ended up as a pivotal figure.

That man is Corbin Bernsen. You may remember him from his roles in "L.A. Law" and "Major League."

Hip to the publicity-generating machine that is Kyle MacDonald, Bernsen contacted him to say he was writing and directing a movie and would offer a paid speaking role as an item available for trade.

MacDonald was thrilled. But he feared the integrity of his journey would be compromised if he accepted the role without trading Bernsen something he really could use. Say what you want about "Major League 3," but Bernsen has done well enough that he doesn't need a free apartment in Phoenix.

So MacDonald kept Bernsen's offer off his blog, but plowed ahead with an eye to finding something Bernsen would legitimately want.

Seemingly disregarding good economic sense, MacDonald traded the year's rent for an afternoon with rocker Alice Cooper. (MacDonald's response: "Alice Cooper is a gold mine of awesomeness and fun.") Then in a move that really confused his blog readers, MacDonald bartered time with Cooper for a snow globe depicting the band Kiss.

Re-enter Corbin Bernsen.

You see, since the days when he'd get free stuff on promotional tours for "L.A. Law," Bernsen has amassed a collection of 6,500 snow globes. "One off, they look sort of goofy," Bernsen said. "Put them all together and they sort of look like pop art."

So MacDonald gave Bernsen the Kiss model and encouraged his blog readers to send the actor even more globes in exchange for autographed pictures.

All this delighted the elders in Kipling, a town of 1,140 believed to have been named in honor of author Rudyard Kipling.

Like many rural towns, Kipling is eager to stave off the perils of dwindling population by attracting new businesses, tourism and above all, attention. When the local development coordinator, Bert Roach, heard about MacDonald's odyssey, he suggested at the next council meeting that Kipling lure him.

Quickly the town purchased an unoccupied rental house on Main Street and offered it to MacDonald. Roach won't disclose the price because MacDonald says he doesn't want to know. But Roach says it was well under the going rate in Kipling, which is about $50,000 Canadian (U.S. $45,000).

The town also pledged to put a giant red paper clip at a highway rest stop and hold an "American Idol"-style competition for the movie role. Participants will have to make a donation to the town's parks department and a charity.

When MacDonald agreed last week, "I was holding back tears, I was so bloody happy," Roach said. "It's going to be such a great project for our community."

Bernsen says that if the right person emerges in the talent show, he'd be willing to cast him or her as a lead. "Maybe a career is going to get started. Maybe it's going to be huge. Maybe that's the magic of Kyle."

MacDonald doesn't expect to live in Kipling forever. But he says he'll make it home at least while he settles down to write a book.

Of course, even if the house came free, he'll have the usual homeowner headaches: taxes, utilities, upkeep. It should come as no surprise that MacDonald isn't worried.

"I'll figure something out," he said. "I can get a job. There's three grocery stores in town."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
Post Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:51 pm
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Jascha



Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Posts: 3936
Location: Seoul, SK
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And so copycats spawned forth all across the land.
And the copycats spawned forth more copycats. Until we're all trying to switch paperclips for houses.


Great story though :D
Post Mon Jul 10, 2006 9:13 pm
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 1993
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
 Reply with quote  

Software-driven gift-and-barter economies could change the world.
Post Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:36 pm
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GrantherBirdly
D&D addict


Joined: 05 Jun 2004
Posts: 3144
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Mark in Minnesota wrote:
Software-driven gift-and-barter economies could change the world.


expand
Post Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:40 pm
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R. Kamidees



Joined: 15 Sep 2003
Posts: 4834
Location: where the wild things are
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I'll give you 3 raccoon pelts to whomever will give up posting on this forum for a month. How can I trade that for something else, you may ask? I can't, but I wanna see if someone will do it.
Post Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:44 pm
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 1993
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
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GrantherBirdly wrote:
expand


Half the things on Kyle MacDonald's list were nontangibles. A record contract, a speaking role in a movie, a year in an apartment, a day with a celebrity. Nothing permanently changed hands, but people with access to something in demand gave access to it.

At first glance this project was supposed to be a guy getting the better of swap after swap, eventually trading up from little stuff to cars all the way to a house. But that's not how it worked; in the end, what he was really trading was publicity, and everybody benefited. Even Alice Cooper.

Billions of people in this world, all with different skills and different possessions. Most of what we pay for is service-related, mark-up related. What got MacDonald his house was a lot of people agreeing to do favors, and giving him permission to trade those favors for something else.

His plan was about 95% gimmick and about 5% real idea, but he was also aiming ridiculously high. There's no reason we couldn't all be doing this all the time, and gradually trading small favors up into hard goods in a scenario that benefits all participants.

The problem with making this work effectively is arranging good trades quickly. Someone can work sites like craigslist and ebay in this exact fashion, but it's time-consuming and not quite designed for what we want to do. What we want is something like those sites, but managed via a software agent.

Here's a scenario: An auto mechanic has a Saturday morning to kill, so he enters into his agent that he's willing to do 2-4 hours of work on somebody's car (within a certain geographic distance); elsewhere on the network, somebody else tells their agent that they're having car troubles. Each agent goes out, quickly comes back and presents each user with a list of trades they could make, either for what they have, or for what they want.

Our auto mechanic's agent knows from preferences he entered that he's a sports fan, so he's able to take a couple of tickets to a baseball game that the season seat-holder couldn't use; our guy with car trouble, selecting from a list of things on offer, promises to pack up a few bag lunches every day for the next week. The ticket holder has no idea that she just traded away an auto mechanic's time -- just that her carpool will make side-stops at a house on the way to school each day for a week, and every kid in the car has lunch sorted. She doesn't even have any idea what the person got in exchange for the lunches -- just that somebody else getting baseball tickets worked out in her favor with this guy.

Goods, services, and money filter into the system; underneath the hood, software agents make exchanges, and do it fast. The only thing limiting the effectiveness of the system is critical mass of the users -- things go up on offer, drop off all the time. All you do is tell your agent what you want, or what you have, and it makes suggestions to you about what exchanges you can make.

Bruce Sterling wrote a short story called Maneki Neko which wraps this idea up with a meme/social networking/good karma/trust network concept, which is a bit fantastic (and no surprise, that's the purpose of science fiction), but the basic concept is there: offer favors to the network, and the network will give stuff to you.

Shit, a week or so ago, I saw somebody on this forum offer to make beats in exchange for a couch to sleep on. There's really not all that much other than a lot of engineering separating that scenario from the one I've described here.
Post Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:21 pm
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Blackstone Valley



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 3587
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Mark in Minnesota wrote:
That Stuff



very well put. and really... a good idea. now only if knowmore could use it as a way to avoid giving money to big business, and helping out thy fellow neighbor, we'd be golden. perhaps an area of the board to offer goods and services?
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:30 am
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Dan Shay



Joined: 30 Aug 2003
Posts: 11244
Location: MN
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they make it sound like he accomplished something, like he was clever, when in actuality he's a charity case and the town got more publicity dollars than his house is worth.

and would ya want to actually live there?
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:57 am
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Oh Daesu



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 1847
Location: Vancouver
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R. Kamidees wrote:
I'll give you 3 raccoon pelts to whomever will give up posting on this forum for a month. How can I trade that for something else, you may ask? I can't, but I wanna see if someone will do it.



I don't believe you have three racoon pelts.
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:12 am
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AdamBomb



Joined: 05 Mar 2004
Posts: 3177
Location: Louisiana
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Basically this guy gives the shaft to whomever he trades with. Somewhere out there is a guy who traded up a pack of cigarettes to eventually amass a gigantic bomb. Fueled by a lifelong vendetta after MacDonald screwed him out of his baseball collection in middle school, he will have his revenge at last...
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:54 am
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thisunu



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 147
Location: Philly
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the first person that he traded with has the legendary red paperclip though
and as long as it's certified to be the original
it could actually turn out to be quite valuable
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:20 am
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Mahler



Joined: 06 May 2003
Posts: 407
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what's special bout a red paperclip?
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:41 am
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DM



Joined: 05 Jul 2002
Posts: 6371
Location: www.NERDTORIOUS.com
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Dan Shay wrote:
they make it sound like he accomplished something, like he was clever, when in actuality he's a charity case and the town got more publicity dollars than his house is worth.

and would ya want to actually live there?



Maybe not in the community itself. But to get a roof over your head, essentially for free, is pretty cool.
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:27 am
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james cromwell



Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 184
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Mahler wrote:
what's special bout a red paperclip?


its red

have YOU ever seen a red paperclip?

we aint talking balloons buddy
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:09 am
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deluin



Joined: 02 Feb 2004
Posts: 2174
Location: Upstate NY
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I've been following this for awhile, I check back on his mission once every few weeks. Cool to see it came to fruitition.
Post Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:42 am
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