If you’re an avid reader of BroBible, you’re aware that approximately 90% of our content comes from Reddit (just kidding, more like 99%…but actually more like 7% if we’re being honest). While I’m getting paid to sit here and stare at that little white alien as I browse its pages, most of you out there don’t get that perk. However, there’s a chance you could get college credit by spending all day dicking around on Reddit…but only if you go to MIT.
There’s obviously a bit more to the class than browsing and participating on Reddit. Instead, students study the theory behind what makes the site work, and compare and contrast it with other social media.
The idea came to the class’ co-instructor Chris Peterson as he was doing a research project on Reddit, and then crystalized about 10 months ago (naturally, through a Reddit post he made about forming the class), when he realized there was a dearth of research about the site.
“When I was looking for a researcher for my thesis, I got an email from a student that said well, ‘I already spend all of my time on Reddit, I might as well get credit for it,'” Peterson, who teaches the class with colleague Ed Schiappa, told me.
The class grew out of that comment, and out of the idea that social media is deeply understudied. “One of the things we try to do in this class is make sure people understand that the technology they use in their daily lives is rooted very deeply in important social issues,” he added.
Among those are groupthink and group behaviors, the origins and psychology of crowd funding, and social power dynamics. Last spring, students also did more specific projects, taking a look at whether cryptocurrency tipping (with Doge tip bot) actually inspired people to use Dogecoin (turns out it does), what sorts of headlines did best on the site, and why people find Tinder swiping so addictive.
In other words, the class isn’t just Credit for Reddit, though that’s how it’s popularly referred to on campus.
There’s probably a reason people refer to it as “Credit for Reddit,” since words like “cryptocurrency” mean absolutely zilch to regular people. Then again, we’re talking about kids who go to MIT, so that’s probably an everyday conversational word used when discussing mundane things like coffee. That’s my guess, at least. I can’t be bothered to look up what it means. I get paid to sit on Reddit, not Dictionary.com
I want more like this!
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