Press "Enter" to skip to content

5 Questions For Kyle MacDonald, One Red Paperclip

Kyle MacDonald
*One Degree: OK, let’s cover the basics first so people know what the heck “One Red Paperclip”: is. Who are you, what is One Red Paper Clip and how did this all get started?*
Kyle MacDonald. 26. From Vancouver. Live in Montreal. one red paperclip is my quest to make a series of up trades from one red paperclip for a house. I started with one red paperclip on July 12th last year after I realized I didn’t have enough cash for a down payment on a house. I saw the red paperclip on my desk and decided to see if I could trade it for something bigger or better. I traded it for a pen shaped like a fish. Then I traded that for a doorknob. Then the doorknob for a coleman stove. After nine trades, I’m up to a recording contract at MetalWorks studios in Toronto.
*One Degree: You’ve done an amazing job of integrating Web 2.0 tools into One Red Paperclip. I see “”:, “MySpace”:, “Flickr”:, “YouTube”:, “Feedburner”:, “Odeo”:, “Gmail”:, and “Google AdSense”: How has the availability of these tools impacted what you are doing with One Red Paperclip?*

Yeah, not sure if I’d go with ‘amazing’, more like ‘cut and paste multiple password mayhem’, but I think it’s definitely enhanced the _’one red paperclip experience’_ for people following along with my trading adventure. As for my experience though, less time to focus on trading, more spent updating the website and all the peripheral stuff. Yes, I have way more crap to update. It’s fun, but a major commitment. I’m really happy that all these tools are free or nearly free. This wouldn’t have been posssible a few years ago on my budget. (i.e. nothing)
*One Degree: Follow-up question. Do you think your audience understands all these relationships and how distributed the project is across all these sites?*
Not at all. Well, some people do for sure, but I think it’s gonna be a long time before flickr/youtube/delicious are commonly known to casual web users. I think they’re still pretty cutting edge as far as mass acceptance and integration is concerned. Actually, I don’t even understand how distributed the project is across the web. I just googled “oneredpaperclip”. 12,700 hits. That’s nuts. I’ve totally lost track of all the things I need to update.
*One Degree: Can you share a few incidents – good or bad – where you think using the Internet for this project changed your chance of success significantly?*
Everything. I’ve made all my trades through the website. I’ve gone and met every trader in person, but without the web, nobody would know about this at all. The marketing power of a website is totally incalcuable. Reporters from “CNN”:, “USA Today”:, “The New York Times”:, “BBC”: etc. all found out about the project through the website. I get random calls at all hours of the day from radio stations in Ecuador, Australia, Germany – you name it. I’ve never made a single outgoing call to any media outlet or solicited a trade from a single person – it’s entirely incoming interest from others. Without the website, I’d probably still have the red paperclip on my desk.
*One Degree: While this started online it is clearly moving to other media now – what’s the offline response been in general and will we see One Red Paperclip the book/movie/game/reality show in the near future?*
One Red Paperclip
The offline response is insane. My dad and I drove across Ontario last week and stopped to chat with some people ice fishing on Lake Superior. My dad offhandedly mentioned that we were on a project, they asked “what project”, and he said, “Oh, well, my son is trying to trade a red paperclip for a house.” Yeah, they’d heard about it. Ice fishers. In the middle of nowhere. I just put together a book proposal and new people call every week about making one red paperclip into a reality show/documentary/dramatic TV series/feature film – it’s nuts. I sure hope there will be many other avenues for the project. It’d be a shame if it only happened once or I was the only guy to get to do this. There’s a lot of stuff in the world. Lots of trading opportunites.