You can get lost in all of the magical content that Reddit has to offer for hours and hours. And now you might actually get something out of all of that time seemingly wasted on "the front page of the Internet."
MIT will be offering a new course on Reddit appropriately titled, "Credit for Reddit." The course looks at how the technology we use every day relates to social issues, such as group behavior, crowd funding and social dynamics.
Chris Peterson, the course's co-instructor, came up with the idea while researching Reddit for a project, according to Vice's Motherboard blog. He then asked for suggestions in a Reddit post about what the course should cover. "What are the most flat-out interesting / controversial / mysterious things that are happening on [sic] reddit which you would like someone smart to spend several weeks trying to research and understand," Peterson asked Redditors in his post.
Before he taught the class, Peterson said that one student who was particularly interested in his research projects told him, "I already reddit instead of homework, so I might as well reddit for homework."
That comment inspired Peterson to create the class, along with the idea that social media is a field that has not been studied enough yet. When the class was offered at MIT last spring, students didn't just study Reddit either. Some of the past projects students worked on focused on what headlines are most successful on Reddit, cryptocurrency and the addictive nature of Tinder. The course will next be offered during the Spring 2015 semester.
Peterson told Vice, "if something is on the front page of Reddit, now it matters. It tells you something about that community and what they find important."
So it seems that Reddit can be used for much more than finding conspiracy theories on your favorite TV shows, adding to your lol-worthy GIF arsenal and venting out your frustrations by anonymously trolling. Who knew?
Well yes, Reddit is a tool for leisure and enjoyment, so maybe it wouldn't appear at first to be a platform fit for study in a rigid academic setting. However, all of the craziness that takes place on Reddit is exactly what makes it perfect to examine. How people communicate on the site, what they share and what becomes popular can tell us a lot about Internet culture and the way we live now. We've got to make sense of this strange place we call "the Internet" somehow.