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You may already have heard of the Tree That Owns Itself.
It's had a Wikipedia article since 2006.
There are lots of news articles about it,
and a Tumblr post that has, as I record this, more than 800,000 notes.
Not views, notes.
And there are already a lot of YouTube videos about this.
Someone visits this tree in Athens, Georgia,
and tells the story of how a local landowner with fond childhood memories
wrote a legal document bestowing the tree's ownership onto itself
sometime in the early 19th century.
And then, they'll go into a discourse about how, under the actual law,
there's no legal basis for that so the ownership is unclear.
And then they'll talk about how everyone just agrees to behave like it is the law,
even though this oak tree isn't even actually the same tree?
The original one fell in the 1940s and was replaced.
And finally, they'll talk about how all law
is ultimately based on the social contract that each of us follows.
What they don't talk about is the other tree that owns itself,
which is about 200 miles that way.
In the city of Eufaula, just over the border into Alabama,
there is another oak tree with a nearly-identical story.
It was a city landmark.
The local council bestowed the tree's ownership onto itself,
and everyone just rolled with it.
And when the tree eventually fell in a storm, a new one was put here,
and everyone just agreed that it counted as the same tree.
But this tree does not have a Wikipedia article.
It isn't even referenced on the other tree's article,
at least not as I record this. There aren't dozens of YouTube videos about it.
Information about this tree has been buried under all the search results and news articles
dedicated to the tree over in Georgia.
For some reason, that one has better publicity.
Maybe it's because that one was first, by about a century,
but given that both of them were deeded decades before the internet,
I'm not sure that's too much of an advantage.
More likely, it's the same reason that many different ideas take off while others don't:
it's all about who you know.
The tree in Georgia is in a big college town, home to the University of Georgia,
and home to students who will arrive from out of town, learn the story, and then leave.
Eufaula, here? While it's a really pretty city,
it has a fraction of the population and no big reason for out-of-towners to visit.
Stories don't tend to spread as well from places like this.
Heck, maybe there are other trees out there in other small towns where the same thing's happened,
but I couldn't find any references to them under all the noise made by the one that everyone noticed.
If you want a metaphor for how success on the internet and, heck, anywhere works,
then these trees are it:
it's not always about how good your story is.
It's about how many people are willing and able to pass it on.