Daily Archives: Thursday, December 24, 2009


Reddit Runs International Secret Santa 2

It’s no surprise the economy is shrinking and so is the number of presents under most people’s trees but thanks to one Web site, nearly 3,000 people will have one special surprise from someone they’ve never met before. The members of Reddit.com, a Web site where users share links to breaking news stories, photos and more, have gathered together in what they believe is the biggest secret Santas ever and I participated in the event along with a roommate of mine, both of us who have been members of the site for a couple of years now.

The idea started simply enough, with one member “kickme444” asking if anyone was interested in a gift exchange and, like most social media, the idea exploded in just days. I am really excited to see the idea take off and see some of the press coverage it has received over the past week or so including the ABC article and CBC clip I have attached at the bottom of the post.

Kickme444 and members of the site designed a site, wrote programming to match up givers to receivers and come December packages will arrive from around the country and possibly around the world. Unofficially 3,500 participants are from the United States, but the rest of the 1,000 members hail from 53 other countries varying from Canada to Australia to Japan and beyond.

The current Guinness Book record holder for the largest secret Santa is more than 1,500 people, held by the staff at UK’s pharmacy chain store Boots. This exchange is set to double the number and smash the record.

This Secret Santa is unique in its relative anonymity. When signing up, Redditors could volunteer information about themselves and participants can look at their recipient’s past comments to get an idea of their interests and personality.

Suggested value of gift and shipping is around $15 but so far the average gift has cost about $27 with another $10 spent on shipping. The organizers have stated, “Handmade awesomeness is suggested, thoughtfulness is required!” Some are opting for homemade gifts – original art, photos, mix CDs, pepper seeds or items unique to their area. Discussion of ideas and requests have been flying on the site for the past few weeks.

Initially I did not know what to get as a present for my Secret Santee as he had very limited participation on the community site but a submitted form allowed everyone to enter some items they are interested and it listed a couple of television shows they were interested in and they wanted a poster from those shows. That made my

Gifts were scheduled be shipped out by Dec. 10 and assuming plenty of redditors are procrastinators, a lot of gifts including mine were shipped out on the last date. Upon receiving the gift, community members have begun posting photos of their present on a thread for Reddit Gifts for the rest to see.

Another noteworthy piece from an ABC affiliate out in Seattle titled “Web Site Runs Elaborate Secret Santa Gift Exchange“.


Artistic Traffic In Pakistan

It has been over 14 years since I last visited Pakistan and this is certainly something I do not remember although my mom is well aware of the tradition that dates back over 100 years. Literally every inch of a truck is covered with artistic design made by hand and then carefully placed onto the truck and each region has their own design to leave their mark and it certainly brings a roadway to life.

Here is the reporter’s first hand claim from her blog:

It’s my first trip to Pakistan, and one of the things that immediately jumped out is the trucks. I realize that sounds strange, but the trucks here are like no other I have ever seen. They are not lumbering and drab monstrosities but a canvas of spectacular and intricate art, a kaleidoscope of exploding colors. I am not one to have much patience for traffic, but here I could sit and watch the roads for hours. Each truck is unique, each a different combination of designs, poetry and other adornments.

What made the “truck art” even more intriguing was just how intricate it is. The designs are made up of tiny pieces of tape, all done by hand. The artisans’ fingers move at breathtaking speed and precision.

Arwa Damon, CNN’s Jakarta-based correspondent covering stories from Indonesia and the surrounding region, graduated from Skidmore College with a double major in French and Biology and a minor in International affairs was born in Boston but went on to spend most of her childhood in Morocco and Turkey. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French and Turkish which is certainly a very useful ability to communicate with the local populous.

It is certainly great to see a different perspective of coverage regarding the news from Pakistan and one that you rarely see here in the West.


Photos: Artistic Gallery From Pakistan