Reddit, the internet’s front page, and AMA with an Intervention cameraman

I’ve only been somewhat aware of Reddit. Like a lot of other social discussion site I just don’t have time for all the chit chat and frankly, looking at the vast majority of the chit chat on there, not sure I want to spend a lot of time hanging out with those who do seem to spend a lot of time hanging there. But, lately I’ve become more aware of how important Reddit is to what becomes news, what becomes viral, and what influences public decisions. Reddit is a powerhouse.

That became clear when I followed the story of my friend (actually my son’s friend) Rory who is the guy who rescued the dog in the kayak in Florida. Even though I saw the role that Reddit played in the YouTube video going viral, now up to 1.6 million views I didn’t pay attention to its way of operating and the content of the discussion on it.

Reddit is truly user curated content. Anyone can submit a story or comment. The “redditors” then vote it up or down. The up votes mean that the story or comment rises on the site or in the comment thread. It is democratized news with a certain kind of purity. I say certain kind because the “redditors” are a pretty interesting bunch.

That became very clear to me when my son, the friend of Rory, agreed to participate in an AMA. An AMA on Reddit is “ask me anything.” Well, he actually agreed to an “AMAA”–“ask me almost anything”. Now not everyone can do this. You actually have to be someone where there is some interest when you identify yourself as “IAmA”–or a person of some special interest. Chris Baron is a cinematographer and has worked on numerous TV shows, TV commercials (seen the Ford commercials with Mike Rowe?) and documentaries. His reel and list of credits is pretty amazing (sure, I’m proud, wouldn’t you be?) But his biggest claim to fame, at least with the Reddit crowd, is that he has been the Director of Photography for Intervention and shot many of the A&E series shows in the past six years.

So, with Intervention producer’s permission, Chris submitted an “IAmA” and the discussion about his work there is enlightening. I won’t comment here about how reading some of the stuff he’s been through makes me feel (he told his mother and I a lot but clearly spared us some ugly details). Instead, the application to crisisblogger readers is two fold:

1) pay attention to this culture. The Reddit comments provide an insight into the values, ideas, perceptions, priorities and thinking of this “reddit” culture. As I recently blogged–and before the Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood fiasco–brands and organizations that ignore this culture and its values combined with its hyper-networked character do so at their own risk.

2) pay attention to Reddit’s impact on news and your reputation. While I would not claim that redditors reflect general attitudes, I would say that the site and those who live on it have an inordinate impact on both what is covered today and how the news is digested. That means Reddit (and Digg also which used to be the big one) need to be paid attention to. It means that when you are in the news, you are going to want to see what discussion is happening on Reddit, how the votes are going, and whether or not you are front page.

Reddit claims to be the front page of the internet. For a great many, including news outlets, I’m guessing that is not too far from the truth. but, my goodness, does there have to be so much ugliness in our discussions?