Science & Technology Midterm Paper
Reddit as a medium covers the criteria for being a news source, blog site, educational resource, forum and archive of life. Reddit has pioneered their diverse online platform to cater to the plethora of communities and users needs and desire for online communities and content. Through its diverse communities and user participation, reddit has become a site portraying different technological mediums.
The front page of the internet, reddits slogan, describes the functionality of reddit being the news source for everything happening on the internet. The site was designed to be a hub for as much content as possible across the web. It has succeeded at this due to user participation in providing content and the number of users it has amassed since its 2005 launch. Users select the articles and materials that make it to the front page, the first page you see when you go to reddit.com. Users have the power on reddit because they post the stories they want and links they find entertaining or insightful to add to the reddit communities discussion. Reddit’s layout and features, upvotes and downvotes, let the users determine what content will be displayed on the site. The front page is a great example of how influential users are to reddit and how much power they are given through the site. As opposed to the traditional news site where the stories they display are determined by editors, reddit gives a place for communities of people to share like ideas as they perceive them. The traditional model is flawed because it is not a reflection of the true views of the people but with an added slant from bias or a political agenda, which get pushed onto us, and influence our perception of events. By depending on user provided content reddit gives a more accurate view of current events by allowing the users to provide their thoughts and have many different opinions and communities to share with, giving many different aspects and opinions in comments available to the consumer of news.
As a medium of information and news, reddit succeeds because of the user. User provided content consists of both, user submitted news and users submitting local, national and international news sources to reddit. This, accompanied by the feedback users provide, gives users the opportunity to see many different takes on current happenings and see the reaction from users. This is versatile because instead of the standard internet news article and the comment section below the actual story, user feedback becomes a story of itself. Reddit itself doesn’t post actual stories and events but users share links to news sites the stories are written for and provides an environment for discussion and sharing of ideas to the world.
Reddit diversifies itself by also providing an information medium for education through the AMA and reddit ask sub-reddits. The AMA, ask me anything, provides user with the medium to have experiences not before possible. Users were afforded the opportunity to ask questions to real, certified, experts in their fields, providing a place of knowledge. The sub-reddit is what allows reddit to be an organized archive of life and medium with so much information. Sub-reddits are communities within reddit that focus on one topics information, happenings and hosting discussions on the topic. For example, the /r/AskScience Vaccine Megathread, gives the most medically correct information surrounding vaccines. The sub-reddit is regulated by a group of pre-qualified panelists and each comment is fact checked to filter only the most precise information. The AMA has featured scientists, experts in their field like, nuclear fusion scientists(1), as well as the likes of celebrity comedian, Chris Rock(2), giving users the opportunity to connect with these great minds and icons they could not have had otherwise. In addition to being, well cool, these encounters led to the ease of access to reliable knowledge, making reddit also be a great educational resource for people to use. The educational resource aspect of Reddit provides another dimension to the blog format by providing specific subreddits that provide reliable and accurate information to viewers. Having access to such information so accessible allows the promotion of education to users and society.
Reddit acts as an archive of life through the archive of the users life and an archive of the world at the time. Reddit is a digital archive of the user because, like other social media sites a user has their own profile, which displays the posts and comments you have made and the threads you have upvoted and subreddits you follow. Reddit is a reflection of the users interests on many different topics at one time and captures these moments as an archive of them during their time using the site. Reddit captures the users life better as an archive because it reflects the political issues you’re reading, the subreddits you’re interested in and the progression of ones and societies views throughout time. This is unique and different to news or social media sites because news sites don’t keep track of the articles you personally view, or at least don’t let you know this information. An example of an archive that comes to my mind is a thread post from january 20th of this year by a guy live blogging the events of his wife cheating on him, leading to a divorce for the reddit community to tune into to over four days(3). This story is a great example of how reddit can be used as an archive of life, unfortunately for this man but great material for the rest of us, by giving the platform and means to preserve this moment in history. The next reason why I like the example above is because it drives home the community aspect of reddit by the different ways this story was perceived. Some saw it as a hoax, others as comedy but either way it was portrayed or interpreted a community popped up around this one mans story to give sympathy, advice and poke fun at his woes. This blog captivated such attention that reddit credited its servers crashing to the traffic generated on the first day of posting. From the example above I conclude that reddit is an entertainment source as well as a type of social media site, allowing users to follow and create archives of lives and discuss them through sub-reddits.
In addition to being a digital archive on a personal level, reddit acts as a time capsule of society throughout time. Through having such a large user base, 174 million posts per month on average(4), allows us to model society through this database. Sub-reddits provide the best analysis of specific views and progression of events happening in the communities. Reddit having 9000 sub-reddits is large enough as well to have a model of americas reaction to an event through user discussions, posts and viewed articles throughout time.
As a social media site/blog I prefer reddit to others because it has more of a stripped down feel than a typical social media site. There is no designated page with all of your information and life displayed, replacing these typical definitions of a person and reflecting the person through articles the user has posted or read and opinions they have left through comments on posts. Reddit represents the users interests at different periods of time, as well as a reflection of your opinions on topics and happenings throughout your time on reddit. Along with the striped down layout, the aspect of animitity, people don’t see a picture of me, see my details or what layout I chose for my profile, just my opinions and articles and news I find stimulating. Of course if I chose to do so I can always post links to my other accounts such as imgur with pictures and such if I chose to do so but I like the creation of a community of anonymous people.
Relating reddits user based model to Plato’s theory of governing society, “governing a society is like sailing a ship, ship can’t be run democratically, but by a captain and his crew”(5). Although reddit is not running a government in the aspect of the internet, where so much we see on the news has a political undertone or slanted take on how to write about events, reddit is controlled by the people, going against Plato’s theory, making the front page of the internet a democracy.
Reddit is a diverse technological medium that has many different messages to offer to a multitude of cultures by providing a platform to be a news source, blog site, educational resource, forum and archive of life. Through its diverse functionality and user participation, reddit has become a one stop shop for everything one does on the internet. Reddit relates to our class by being a technological medium containing a plethora of information, as well as an archive of life by promoting users content and preserving their preferred topics over time.
(5) The Whale and The Reactor. Artifacts Politics. Pg. 31.