Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian spoke on the importance of the Internet and student entrepreneurship on March 11.
The event was organized by HackMcGill and the Dobson Centre, a hub for entrepreneurial activity at McGill, and was attended by approximately 150 members of the McGill community.
In his speech, Ohanian encouraged students to begin work on their projects and promote them using the power of the Internet.
“Every one of us is capable of being entrepreneurial,” he said. “Having ideas and doing these is the core.”
Ohanian emphasized the Internet’s ability to facilitate the sharing of information and unite people.
“What makes the Internet so powerful is that you can publish an article here right now, and someone in Japan can see it as easily as someone in the States,” he said. “You can have more of an impact a lot faster than you would in the physical world.”
However, Ohanian also pointed to the limitations of technology, such as unequal access.
“We still have millions of people who don’t even have access to broad net,” Ohanian said. “In America, there are parents who have to take their kids to McDonalds for Wi-Fi because they can’t afford it.”
Highlighting these setbacks, Ohanian said that because the Internet remains such a powerful tool, people must ensure that it stays open and free.
“Every one of us who has an Internet connection is enlisted, as we all have [it] in our best interest to preserve it,” Ohanian said. “As to why to defend it, it is because of the threats to its end of neutrality and availability, as well as to stop online censorship.”
Students’ reactions to Ohanian’s message were positive.
“Ohanian was so amazing and so inspiring—I don’t think this [event] could have gone any better,” Ajwad Anwar, a U1 Science student, said.
Christophe Smith, U2 Science, praised Ohanian’s abilities as a speaker.
“I was really impressed,” Smith said. “He is a brilliant [and] funny speaker, which is great. I learned a lot.”