Who is Mr. Splashy Pants & Why Should You Care?
Alexis Ohanian is the co-founder of reddit.com , a social news website where links are published on the main page based on the number of votes they receive. Simply put, what more people deem as interesting gets more votes and thus receives the spotlight; it is user-generated content. Alexis speaks very little of his creation, however, and instead focuses on how one can utilize the Internet with the help of social media.
“The more connections I make, the further I can reach across the world.” –Matt Pyke, Artist
He recounts an instance when the Japanese Fisheries Agency had a plan to kill about fifty humpback whales in the South Pacific Ocean for scientific research. Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization (whose goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity) caught wind of this and leapt into action. The organization created the Great Whale Trail Expedition. Through this collaboration, scientists tag and track the whales via satellite as they migrate and travel throughout the ocean. Much is learned via THIS method and killing in the name of science is unnecessary.
In an effort to raise awareness (and raise money so that this all was made possible) Greenpeace came up with the idea of letting the public name one of the whales. They created an online poll where people could vote on an assortment of names. This caught the attention of various social media and networking sites like BoingBoing, reddit, Facebook, and Digg, as well as blogs. As soon as it garnered attention in one outlet it immediately spread to another. Ohanian notes that the internet is a “level playing field” and it’s important to allow yourself to “lose control” and take certain things “less seriously.” It’s okay if you can’t completely control the message; the important thing is that the message is getting out there. When the voting ceased and the poll was closed an estimated 150,000 people had voted on the name, reddit alone was responsible for about 20,000 of the votes, and even Facebook groups had been created and were selling t-shirts. “Mr. Splashy Pants” was the winning name.
The Point: Over 150,000 people were made aware of this cause with the creation of a simple online poll and social media did the rest on its own.