We are the nerds: The birth and tumultous life of Reddit (2018)Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

This book provided a lot of context for me regarding the history and culture of Reddit, including insight into many in-jokes, references, and norms on the platform. The first part of the book focuses on how Reddit was founded and grown, including a short portion on Aaron Swartz's involvement with Reddit whereas the later half of the book focuses on more modern challenge that Reddit faces, such as growing revenue and content moderation.

In recent years, attention in the content moderation space has shifted to more prominent social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and so the content moderation challenges that Reddit faces may not be receiving the attention it deserves. Reddit is probably a gold mine for an empirical study of content moderation issues given that most subreddits are public, moderators of subreddits are volunteers, and Reddit has generally tried to hold itself out as a bastion of free speech.

Despite the unwieldy and unengaging title, the book is great, and I would recommend it to anyone who (1) regularly uses Reddit or (2) is interested in tech startups or (3) is interested in freedom of speech and content moderation.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that Josh Wardle (founder of Wordle, though this post-dated the publication of the book) was an early employee at Reddit and had initiated two well-known Reddit projects: The Button and /r/place.

26 May 2022