Have You Reddit?

UPDATE: if you aren’t sold on the value of Reddit, can I suggest you take in this inspired discussion on Reddit as to whether the sun is hard or squishy. Thanks BoingBoing – this is truly beautiful.

I’m back! And ready to jump back into all things tech and web. Out of the gate, I thought I would visit a web tool that I have noted for quite some time, but haven’t really taken advantage of – Reddit. Reddit is a social news site that bills itself as the source for what’s new and popular across the web. The content is submitted by the community of users. Those same users can vote up and down the content, creating a constantly shifting front page of popular news. The site is broken up into individual, topic based Reddits. You can subscribe to the Reddits that interest you. While you can subscribe to as many Reddits as you like, your front page can show 50 Reddits at most (more if you are a “Gold” member). Each Reddit has a monitor – a user that helps keep the Reddit moving in a positive direction. You can use a search function to find topics and individual Reddits and build your news sources accordingly.

In order to prevent spamming, there are limits to the number of links you can post during a certain time frame. Users can also accrue karma points based on the submission of well-liked content. Of course, you can also comment on links, so there is both movement in the popularity of links as well as in discussion surrounding the links. And comments can become popular or unpopular via voting, so there is movement in the comment ranking as well.

Reddit has been around for a while, which can mean a potential for irrelevancy in a rapidly changing web. Similar service Digg has suffered somewhat in this regard over the past year or so (as well as from a hellish redesign). However, this negative result does not appear to be the case for Reddit. It has a somewhat smallish, but thriving community of contributors that seems able to actually get things done. Like prompting Stephen Colbert to hold his rally in Washington, D.C. in October, 2010, raising a half a million dollars for charity. Recently, a riveting account of a standoff between the New Jersey police and a gunman bubbled up through Reddit, not Twitter. The Redditor, Elinika, supplied eyewitness accounts and updates to Reddit and the local New Jersey paper, a prime example of citizen journalism at its best.

I like Reddits no-nonsense interface – you see mostly just the links when you visit, and no advertising (Woot!). there are tabs for what’s hot, new, controversial, top and saved, with individual topics at the very top of the screen. To engage, simply create an account, and start linking and voting.  But be careful, Reddit can be mesmerizing – the front page is constantly changing based on user actions and there is a lot to see and explore.

In sum, Reddit is a nirvana for social news junkies interested in the content that interests others.

If you want tools to supercharge your Reddit experience, check out this article at MakeUseOf that highlights some apps / extensions to improve the site’s utility.

New Mr. Tweet – From Recommender to Social Director

Since the early days of the public microblogging service Twitter, it has been a challenge for users to figure out who to follow and whose tweets to read. The challenge is getting, well, even more challenging as the number of Twitter users grow. If only someone could just tell you “hey, go follow @so-and-so, they are talking about EXACTLY what you want to be hearing.”

I started using the third-party Twitter directory Mr. Tweet very early on in my Twitter usage, and I am coming up on three years of tweeting. I previously blogged about Mr. Tweet here in the Studio way back in the beginning (link here). I periodically go back and use Mr. Tweet when I feel the need to follow some fresh ideas and, for the most part, I appreciate the personalized suggestions the service yields.

Apparently, Mr. Tweet has not rested on its laurels of more than 400,000 users of the service. The Mr. Tweet blog (link here) just announced that there are major changes to the service on the way. An example of the new Mr. Tweet is live (link here). Mr. Tweet claims to have been listening to users who don’t really want to follow celebs on Twitter and would prefer to connect with members of their “communities of interest” in a more meaningful way. Gee, what a good idea!

From the screenshots, it appears the “new” Mr. Tweet will be more than a simple recommended user-type service. The new interface looks much more like interest-based social communities growing out of Twitter. You can post discussions, get answers from other members of the community, and see top users.

 

You can filter by current discussions, not yet answered, and all activities.

You will still be able to secure old-school Mr. Tweet service at http://classic.mrtweet.com.  But kudos to Mr. Tweet for its innovation – the new service looks to be a promising means for distilling down your Twitter-actions into the topical areas of greatest interest. By doing so, Mr. Tweet will allow you to see the top users in action, including how interactive they are with members of their chosen community. Looking forward to checking out this new, more social version of the service.

On-Line Social Really IS Social!!!

NerdNewsflash: the Internet is NOT making you weird! According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, studies show that people who employ modern methods of communicating via the Web and mobile devices actually have larger and more diverse social networks. You can download a copy of the report of the study here. What are the numbers? From the press release:

“The new findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that, on average, the size of people’s discussion networks – those with whom people discuss important matters– is 12% larger amongst mobile phone users, 9% larger for those who share photos online, and 9% bigger for those who use instant messaging. The diversity of people’s core networks – their closest and most significant confidants – tends to be 25% larger for mobile phone users, 15% larger for basic internet users, and even larger for frequent internet users, those who use instant messaging, and those who share digital photos online.”

The study was directed, in part, at measuring a perceived increased level of social isolation experienced by heavy users of the internet and mobile devices, but found quite the opposite. While “discussion” networks in real life have been shrinking since the mid 1980’s, these networks have been growing for on-line users. There are a number of other semi-startling results that challenge popular opinion as well: on-line use does NOT equate with less involvement in the local community; intenet use is spread equally between long-distance and local communication; internet use actually encourages visits to public places, such as libraries, parks and coffee shops,  – many go to such places to engage on-line, and on-line discussion networks usually include a far wider representative sample of backgrounds and diversity than in real life groups.

In other words, the researchers conclude that your social life is enhanced, rather than hindered, by engagement in on-line communication and activity. Don’t hesitate to enter the on-line fray to expand your discussion groups and influence and increase your value to others.

You can breathe easy now. Internet use does NOT make you weird. But it may not be able to help you if you already are.

Hat tip to Resource Shelf.