Harnessing the Power of the Benevolent Internet

A session at SXSW Interactive 2012

  • Zach Walker
  • Dan Mccomas

Tuesday 13th March, 2012

12:30pm to 1:30pm (CST)

Despite the mainstream portrayal of the web as a den of pedophiles and hackers, the Internet is capable of doing a whole lot of good. Panelists Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit; founder of Breadpig), Dan McComas and Jessica Moreno (founders, RedditGifts), Christina Xu (founder, Institute on Higher Awesome Studies; co-founder, ROFLCon), and Zach Walker (Donor Relations Manager, DonorsChoose.org) will give the low-down on the benevolent side of the hivemind. From communities of pizza-sending well-wishers to campaigns that generate hundreds of thousands of dollars and tons of attention for nonprofits, this panel will examine and discuss the unexpected phenomenon of strangers helping each other (and the world) en masse. We’ll debate whether these actions make a real impact and lead to long-term engagement, identify the unique benefits (and disadvantages) of pseudonymous grassroots philanthropy, give tips on getting your very own do-goodery snowball rolling, and show you so many heartwarming stories that you’ll think someone is cutting onions.

About the speakers

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Zach Walker

Donor Rel, DonorsChoose.org

Zach works to create and maintain happy relationships with DonorsChoose.org supporters. He manages the donor user experience, oversees donor customer service and communication, and serves as the DonorsChoose.org ambassador to reddit. Previously, he worked for Google as a marketing consultant, and spent 4 years with Warner Music Group marketing and selling a lot of bad records. A few good ones.

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Christina Xu

Chancellor, The Institute On Higher Awesome Studies

Christina Xu grew up on the internet and is the founding director of the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, the nonprofit wing of the Awesome Foundation. She also works at Breadpig, an uncorporation trying to make the world suck less by harnessing the goodwill of geeks worldwide. She is one of the co-founders of ROFLCon, a conference that celebrates and investigates internet communities and their cultures.She is delighted by inside jokes that cross borders, clever reappropriations, the social rituals around technology, delicious food, and ridiculously loud subwoofers. She tweets compulsively about these things @chrysaora.

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Alexis Ohanian

Head Mktg, Founder, Ambassador to the East, Breadpig

Graduated from UVA in 2005 and put my history major to work co-founding reddit.com. Sold it to Condé Nast in 2006 and continued doodle the reddit alien for another three years until retiring for a Kiva Fellowship in Armenia. Founded Breadpig, Inc., an uncorporation that's responsible for bringing geeky things into the world like LOLmagnetz and xkcd: volume 0 -- and donating all the profits (over $150,000 given away so far!). I'm also currently the marketing guy at Hipmunk. Thanks to a whale, I gave a TED talk in 2009. My dad and I are also professional downtrodden Skins fans. I love hummus.

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Dan Mccomas

Co-founder, RedditGifts

I am the founder of redditgifts where we exchange gifts and organize internet do-goodery. redditgifts started in a thread on reddit and has since been acquired by reddit and I am now a full time reddit employee.

Next session in Room 6AB

3:30pm Boost Fundraising & Engagement with “Gamification” by Patty Huber, Frank Barry, Laura Hartman, Steve Kehrli and Randy Paynter


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20 attendees

  • Alexis Ohanian
  • Brian Fitzgerald
  • susan
  • Christina Xu
  • Don Soares
  • Adam Tyree Finch
  • Gautam Ramdurai
  • guavalicious
  • James Clement Burns
  • Jen Nausin
  • jeremydaly
  • johanna kollmann
  • Kristine McCormick
  • Mike Metzler
  • Philip Mervis
  • Tasneem Raja
  • Lane Goldstone
  • Thomas Evans
  • Aurelio Tinio
  • Yazhini

8 trackers

  • Adam Terror Lindsay
  • Chip Brantley
  • Jen Simmons
  • Katie Felten
  • kickme444
  • Matthew Levine
  • Paul Beaulieu
  • Ryan Berg

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Time 12:30pm1:30pm CST

Date Tue 13th March 2012


Room 6AB, Austin Convention Center

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