Thursday, January 19, 2012

What is Reddit and why is it important?

On January 18th a handful of websites voluntarily shut down for the day to pretest the passage of SOPA in the US. As discussed in an earlier post SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) would give the government power to shut down a website that infringes on copy write, either through the webmaster's posted content or content of a user. Without going into too much detail the bill allows overreaching power that would essentially turn Uncle Sam into Big Brother, monitoring all the content we consume through the web and punishing us for sharing a picture or article.

Among these protesting websites is Reddit a media/content aggregator where users share numerous forms of text/links organized by genre into categories. But why is a website that doesn't even crack the top 50 most frequented sites getting mentioned on CNN and The Colbert Report? Because it's a powerful online tool for change. Reddit produces countless examples of how the 'hive mind' can be used responsibly and positively.

Besides exploiting its power-in-numbers Reddit users can also give insight to aspects of everyday life not discussed in the mainstream media. Users can check out the subreddit IAMA ("I am a...") where "the mundane becomes fascinating and the outrageous suddenly seems normal." Here people share stories and answer questions about their everyday lives.

Reddit even has its fair share of celebrity users

Some even get creative!

But there is more to Reddit than just feel-good stories and celebrity name drops. The website allows people to create communities of people who share the same singular interest through its site organization. Almost every topic or interest can be found on the site, from Pokemon to Space Porn (sfw, pictures of space). Before I found Reddit I could barely navigate the world wide web but now there isn't a pic or youtube video shared on Facebook that I haven't seen already. If the internet flattened the world leading to globalization then Reddit flattened the internet (Inceptionization?) However, most importantly there has never before been a website where someone is able to surprise a hungry stranger with a pizza while simultaneously seeking tips for hair loss prevention.

But in the end this is all an attempt to get you hooked on the site and to visit the Denison subreddit.

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