One Red Paperclip turns into a house!
July 8, 2006 7:15 AM   Subscribe

One red paperclip has, after 14 trades, been turned into a farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan. Previously, previously.
posted by cerebus19 (73 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Im still trying to work out what this "project" proves, since about 99% of the value of the trades comes simply from novelty and fame. That is to say, if we all tried this now, after 14 trades we would probably each have a tennis ball or an old Barry Manilow album.
posted by Jimbob at 7:26 AM on July 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Be careful what you wish for ...

:)
posted by Flashman at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2006


JimBob, it proves that this guy was clever enough to think of it before you did.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2006


I'd do it for a tennis ball. Those things are fun, much more than a house.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:32 AM on July 8, 2006


I mean, he's leaving Montreal, for Kipling Saskatchewan, whose handful of other residents seem all too keen to have him move there.
Maybe I'm being too cynical, but I'd say one way or another he's going to end up letting them down.
posted by Flashman at 7:43 AM on July 8, 2006


As Alvy Ampersand put it:

"Does it make me a bad person that a part of me hopes that upon securing ownership of his home, a mighty gust will scatter and destroy the unsecured sheaf of title and ownership papers, leaving a bereft Kyle MacDonald sobbing and broken, screaming "IF ONLY I HAD A PAPERCLIP!!!" into a black, uncaring sky?"
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:44 AM on July 8, 2006


leaving a bereft Kyle MacDonald sobbing and broken, screaming "IF ONLY I HAD A PAPERCLIP!!!" into a black, uncaring sky?"

Awww. That reminds me of the classic little story The Stonecutter (this is not a Simpsons joke). I think I'll put it on my wishlist.
posted by Gator at 7:55 AM on July 8, 2006


Im still trying to work out what this "project" proves, since about 99% of the value of the trades comes simply from novelty and fame. That is to say, if we all tried this now, after 14 trades we would probably each have a tennis ball or an old Barry Manilow album.

Why does this crowd always have to shit on delightful things? Fuck you people. Not everything "has to prove something". He wanted to see if he could do it. He seems to have had fun along the way. How much larger is your Internet snarking cock now that you've pointed out how irrelevant it all was? I mean, thank God for you people, otherwise, I'd never know when something was worth reading about.

Does it matter if a bunch of news sites picked up on it and the project became famous, thus facilitating more unlikely trades? No. That's what happened, big deal. In fact, one might say it was inevitable.

Maybe this crowd, as Space Coyote suggested, is just pissed off that he thought of it and they didn't.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:55 AM on July 8, 2006 [3 favorites]


wow. i was really doubtful after the KISS snow globe trade.
posted by zenzizi at 7:56 AM on July 8, 2006


Space Coyote, he thought of it first, and had the means to pursue the whole thing. The flights to arrange the swaps weren't free (though he seems to be resourceful enough, maybe air-freight?).

Color me impressed.
My haggling skillz is cack compared to his.
posted by Busithoth at 7:58 AM on July 8, 2006


Jimbob : "Im still trying to work out what this 'project' proves"

I'm still trying to figure out why folks thing this was intended to be a project to "prove" something.

Someone linked to a gallery of interesting cars earlier today. What does that gallery 'prove'?
posted by Bugbread at 8:04 AM on July 8, 2006


"thing this" → "think this"
posted by Bugbread at 8:04 AM on July 8, 2006


It seems to prove that Canadian currency and real estate really is completely worthless. And, I guess, like the famed Baghdad holdouts, some people will live anywhere if they can buy low enough.
posted by nixerman at 8:05 AM on July 8, 2006


Corbin Bernsen still makes movies?
posted by furtive at 8:11 AM on July 8, 2006


Mikey-san is dead on.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:17 AM on July 8, 2006


Wow, he did it! Good for him.

Count me among the people who, at least after the last few trades, grew very, very skeptical of his bartering abilities. Of course, he gained in every trade the one thing that you can't put a price on and anyone else trying to replicate the feat won't have: fame. By the time he traded for the snow globe (that anyone could have gotten for $50 on eBay), his fame had spread out enough that other people would be willing to trade with him just for the chance to be part of the saga. When those people are "famous", you can create value out of thin air.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:18 AM on July 8, 2006


The ironic thing is that original red paperclip is probably more valuable at this point than that house...GoldenPalace, are you paying attention?
posted by TonyRobots at 8:21 AM on July 8, 2006


Gator : "That reminds me of the classic little story The Stonecutter (this is not a Simpsons joke). I think I'll put it on my wishlist."

You might also be interested, then, in another Japanese story, "Warashibe Chouja". Condensed version:
A poor man prays to Buddha regularly. One day Buddha appears in a dream and says "Tomorrow, the first thing you touch will bring you a great reward". The next day, the man trips and lands on a piece of straw. He is puzzled how this will bring him a great reward. For fun, he ties a fly with a string to the end of the straw (a kind of flying pet type affair). A rich boy sees it, wants it, and trades the poor man three oranges for the fly-on-a-leash. He accepts. The poor man later sees a tired woman, and offers her the oranges. She thanks him, and rewards him with a bolt of fine cloth. Later, the man sees two samurai with an exhausted horse, saying "This horse is useless!". The poor man offers to trade them the fine cloth for the 'useless' horse. They accept. The poor man gives the horse water, and the horse regains its energy. The poor man comes upon a landowner in the process of leaving for a long trip. He offers to give the man his horse if the man will give him a corner of his rice-field, and allow him to live in the man's house until he returns from the trip. The man accepts. The poor man tends the rice field well, and cleans the house. The man comes back, and is impressed by the poor man's hard work, and offers his daughter's hand in marriage. The poor man accepts, marries the daughter, has some cute children, and inherits the house, and lives happily ever after.
posted by Bugbread at 8:29 AM on July 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient writes "When those people are 'famous', you can create value out of thin air."

Good ol smoke'n'mirrors
posted by elpapacito at 8:31 AM on July 8, 2006


Im still trying to work out what this "project" proves

..that "stuff" (material objects) don't matter - that we live in an "economy of attention" - it is people's attention that is worth money, not stuff. Eyeballs. So long as you can capture attention ("attention traps") you can make money - the stuff doesn't matter. Andy Warhol also taught us this - he made a fortune with soup cans. paper clips. Doesn't matter .. it's people's attention that matters, that is the lesson. You'll notice that the value of his trades went up as the aggregate amount of attention *for that particular trade* went up. Radio show -> Alyce Cooper -> Movie... in an economy of attention, each of those is worth progressively more.
posted by stbalbach at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2006


I'm surprised that the KISS snow globe was so high up on the list. I'd have traded two of those for a red paperclip.

Really though, I love stuff like this. Look how excited the town is about the whole thing. p1, p2 [pdf]
posted by danb at 8:42 AM on July 8, 2006


Metafilter: Why does this crowd always have to shit on delightful things?

I'd be quite happy with a farmhouse in Saskatoon or wherever the fuck he is, so there.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:48 AM on July 8, 2006


Canadian currency and real estate: worthless.

The effect on a Saskatchewan farming community: priceless.
posted by hangashore at 8:55 AM on July 8, 2006


stbalbach writes "that 'stuff' (material objects) don't matter "


That's a bit of a stretch
posted by elpapacito at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2006


I'm surprised no one from an MLB team offered him a general manager position. He's pulled off better trades than most of those schmucks.
posted by dw at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2006


While we're talking about Warhol, I think his Brillo Boxes are far more a suitable example than the pictures of the soup cans. The boxes were barely discernable from your garden-variety Brillo Box, yet somehow managed to be a cut-above. Danto went on a fair bit on how 'Brillo Boxes' affected aesthetics (the bastard child of philosophy and art). He suggested the idea of discernable counterparts, that is, two things that a seemingly identical, yet one holds a different quality to the other.

This was posted while I am still somewhat inebriated, so please forgive me if I am a little incomprehensible (save me spellcheck please)
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 9:13 AM on July 8, 2006


so please forgive me if I am a little incomprehensible

Don't worry, it's like the difference between Thursdays and cheese. (Argyle, of course.)
posted by hangashore at 9:32 AM on July 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


What bullshit. Do this without the self-promotion and publicity & then get back to me.
posted by wfc123 at 9:34 AM on July 8, 2006


I'm really glad that he reached his goal. He had me worried there for a little while, what with the Alice Cooper date and the Kiss Snowglobe and all.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:41 AM on July 8, 2006


What bullshit. Do this without the self-promotion and publicity & then get back to me.

Wow. Let me guess: you're bitter because you've accomplished jack-shit all in your life, right?
posted by dobbs at 9:49 AM on July 8, 2006


I traded a winning smile and sex for a nice 2 bed in Camden NW1 for 13 years. I still have a smile, and my rectum is unskulled. Worked out rather well.

Wow. Let me guess: you're bitter because you've accomplished jack-shit all in your life, right?
Wow. Let me guess: you're bitter because you've accomplished jack-shit all in your life, right?
LOL
posted by econous at 10:04 AM on July 8, 2006


There's crude oil in the ground in that area of Saskatchewan. I'd keep up with this story, it could get interesting...
posted by sleslie at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2006


wfc123 : "What bullshit. Do this without the self-promotion and publicity & then get back to me."

Well, the goal was "Let's see if I can trade up to a house", and he did, so I don't see where bullshit comes into it. And, as far as I know, he's never come to you in the first place, so I don't see how he could "get back to you", or why he'd be interested in doing so anyway.
posted by Bugbread at 10:18 AM on July 8, 2006


stbalbach writes "that 'stuff' (material objects) don't matter "

elpapacito writes "That's a bit of a stretch

--

yeah taken out of context and literary.
posted by stbalbach at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2006


It seems to prove that Canadian currency and real estate really is completely worthless.

Wow. You really don't know what you're talking about, do you?
posted by orange swan at 10:45 AM on July 8, 2006


"Now, I'm sure the first question on your mind is, "Why would Corbin Bernsen trade a role in a film for a snow globe? A KISS snow globe," MacDonald said on his website "one red paper-clip."

"Well, Corbin happens to be arguably one of the biggest snow globe collectors on the planet."


And either Corbin is either a very cool, fun guy, or he's a big nerd. I can see it going either way;-)

Cerebus19, ignore the snarkers. This is a really cute project and thanks for linking to it.
posted by orange swan at 10:50 AM on July 8, 2006


Corbin Bernsen has one of the largest collections in the world of snow globes, over 6000.

Ahhhh.
on preview: Ahhhh2

And the recording contract? The album cover is ... one red paperclip. That's awesome. Listenable and downloadable MP3s.

I find it fascinating -- it's a great commentary on the economics of attention, yes, but also on perceived value of things like ... houses. It very much manages to parody the "trade-up" economy that a lot of homeowners have exploited the last decade or so. "I've got a two-bedroom in Passaic and a top 20% FICO, what can I get?"
posted by dhartung at 10:58 AM on July 8, 2006


He goes from a year of free rent to a snowglobe? It seems almost like he's going down in value, but maybe in order to go 'up' in popularity? It seems like the hight of value might have been the cube van or certanly the year of free rent, which ought to be worth at least $12k.

But he does get a house in the end. *shrug*
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2006


What's with all the "YOU JUST HATE HIM CUZ YOU AIN'T HIM" posts? I mean, seriously. "you're bitter because you've accomplished jack-shit all in your life"? Really? That's your response? Really?

The project is cute. It would have been more interesting if it had functioned the way he actually described it, wherein he made actual trades and actually grew his worthless bauble into hundreds of thousands of dollars of value through clever bartering over time. Instead it's a guy coming up with an idea interesting enough that eventually people just gave him a house.
posted by Simon! at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2006


and just think, If he'd caught a shark and put it formeldahyde he could have bought himself a saskatoon mansion.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 AM on July 8, 2006


That's your response? Really?

I don't care if you've accomplished anything or not. I'm just really, really sick of BitchFilter.
posted by furiousthought at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2006


Anyone wanna give me a RealDoll for One Used Buttplug? I'm hoping to end up with a real live woman in fourteen trades.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2006


Everyone seems to miss out on the snowglobe thing. It's practically explicitly stated that Corbin Bernsen was willing to donate a role in his next movie to the project, but presumably had no interest in an afternoon with Alice Cooper. Therefore, seeing as there was an offer for a KISS snow globe, the guy picked that, suited to Corbin's proclivities. He's also offered Jody Gnant to make a song for the film, according to her site.
posted by abcde at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2006


Well, all I gotta say is ... that Kyle is super cute. Too bad he's 26 and has a girlfriend and lives in Saskatchewan.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2006


I'm just really, really sick of BitchFilter.

This is one of those internal contradiction thingies, isn't it? Like: "This sentence is false." Or maybe it's just dramatic irony.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2006


Isn't that like saying, "aren't you liberals supposed to be tolerant? Then you should tolerate everything I do! Right? Right? Right? Right? Right?"
posted by furiousthought at 1:29 PM on July 8, 2006


Huh? I just thought it was funny. Amusingly, Ernesto Laclau has written quite lucidly on the liberal "intolerance of intolerance." Check out Emanciation(s).
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2006


Oh, ok. Yeah, I'll admit, there's a bit of irony to what I said there. Cool.
posted by furiousthought at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2006


Actually, my workplace is filled with people who bitch about people bitching. I coined the term (and I realize how apropos it is here) "Metabitching".
posted by symbioid at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2006


I think "bitchfilter" is an abbreviation of "bitch-about-FPPs-on-Metafilter", so there's no contradiction with bitching about comments.
posted by Bugbread at 2:05 PM on July 8, 2006


I think the post/comments distinction is spurious. It's metafilter content-in-general that was being bitched^2 about. If x is a comment on an FPP y, than any comment z which is also a comment to y is undifferentiable from x for our purposes. In other words, FPP bitching happens in metatalk or is quickly directed there, and is differentiable by its having it's own 'post' in that space. :-)
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2006


it's ! = its
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:48 PM on July 8, 2006


Somebody should make a Hasselhoff Recursion type thing that centers upon the navel.
posted by furiousthought at 2:57 PM on July 8, 2006


anotherpanacea : "In other words, FPP bitching happens in metatalk or is quickly directed there"

And I think that what is annoying people here is that that doesn't happen the majority of the time. Many more comments have bitching about them in the blue than have posts about them in the grey.
posted by Bugbread at 2:58 PM on July 8, 2006


Corbin Bernsen has one of the largest collections in the world of snow globes, over 6000.

So he's the son-of-a-bitch who killed Zito!
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:14 PM on July 8, 2006


Instead it's a guy coming up with an idea interesting enough that eventually people just gave him a house.

Yes, exactly.

Ever heard of the Pet Rock?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:44 PM on July 8, 2006


It seems to prove that Canadian currency and real estate really is completely worthless.

He didn't even need a paperclip if he was willing to move to Kansas.
posted by 445supermag at 7:17 PM on July 8, 2006


I just think it's the grooviest idea, good on him for hitting the zeitgeist and making it work. Yay!
posted by dejah420 at 7:35 PM on July 8, 2006


Orange Swan: "..Corbin is either a very cool, fun guy, or he's a big nerd."

He's both.

In fact, if Kyle MacDonald happened to know about Corbin Bersen's little Achilles' heel, he mighta said yes to the snow globe with that in mind. Even if he didn't have Bernsen's email address prior to getting the snow globe, it'd simply be dependent on just how rare and desirable the KISS snow globe is among the snow globe collector community. I mean to me postage stamps are totally worthless, but there's stamps in existence so valuable you could trade one for a house pretty easy.

But the real bottom line here is revealed in this interview with Kyle. He is doing this as a way to follow his bliss: meeting people and writing about it. In that context, I say more power to the ripe bastard. We should be celebrating his madness, not dissing him. I'm pleased to discover this story, because I got a weakness for babes that sing. Jody Gnant is quite a babe.

Here's a rare KISS snow globe that you can buy from the KISS4SALE website. It claims to be rare and costs fifty dollars. However, it doesn't appear to have a variable dial.

Here's some guy named Dan who is looking at the prospect of this in reverse. Kyle wanted to get a house by trading a paper clip. Dan's contemplating for what one item would he trade his house.

Here's a Rainbow Brite snow globe. Here's some other snow globes. Here's how to make a snowglobe. Caution: alien cat.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:43 PM on July 8, 2006


The guy is a Ferengi.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:35 PM on July 8, 2006


Google asks, "Did you mean: unskilled?"
posted by surlycat at 12:39 AM on July 9, 2006


I dunno, Kipling is not very big and there isn't much of an urban economy until you get to Regina (and Regina is under 200 000 people) I don't like his chances of making a good living in Kipling and commuting to Regina is a long drive on a bad road. Kipling is a cute place though.

If paper clip guy's next brush with Internet fame, is moving to Kipling and writing pieces that make fun of prairie people I am going to personally drive out there and kick him in the balls.

I read this story as a "cute adventure" but he seemed to be well connected and criss-crossing North America to arrange deals - all while unemployed; this is a hard guy to like in my opinion. Sorry if this is snarky.
posted by Deep Dish at 1:16 AM on July 9, 2006


Deep Dish : "I read this story as a 'cute adventure' but he seemed to be well connected and criss-crossing North America to arrange deals - all while unemployed; this is a hard guy to like in my opinion."

I don't quite follow. Why does being unemployed, connected, and travelly make you like him less?

Also, while he might not be steadily employed, that doesn't mean that he lacks revenue sources. A Japanese TV station flew him in and did a one hour special on him; I doubt he received no compensation above flight and hotel expenses for it.
posted by Bugbread at 5:50 AM on July 9, 2006


Once, using only the power of my mind, and a dollar nineteen in change, I was able to acquire a slurpee at the local convenience store. True story.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:55 AM on July 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow, I like the cute girl with the HUGE forehead.
posted by darkripper at 7:01 AM on July 9, 2006


Is she Finnish? I swear all the Finns I've met have huge foreheads.

"Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads..." :)
posted by symbioid at 11:22 AM on July 9, 2006


But what could he have gotten with two paperclips?
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:22 PM on July 9, 2006


This town is roughly 8-9 hours away from me. I'm considering organizing a road trip for the house warming.
posted by utsutsu at 9:54 PM on July 9, 2006


LOL, I love TMBG too :)
posted by darkripper at 4:27 AM on July 10, 2006


If memory serves, Kipling is one of Saskatchewan's nicer-looking small towns, so good on him.

I still kinda want the "If I only had a paperclip!!!" thing to happen, though.
And I can't believe I used 'secure' twice in the same sentence.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:30 AM on July 10, 2006


Well, there are three houses from Kipling listed on the MLS website: average price, 24,000 bucks.

It's fun, but I'd say that given how hard it is to get people to stay in small prarie towns, the publicity for the town is probably worth way more than the free house.

I somehow don't think he'd have been able to trade up to a 4 bedroom Victorian rowhouse in the Annex.
posted by jrochest at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2006


It demonstrates that marketing is real work, and produces real value.

Ding!
posted by linux at 2:03 PM on July 10, 2006


Blogger's Quest Ends With Keys to House
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/07/10/financial/f113250D58.DTL
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2006


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