Blog Post

Memes and Meaning: Reddit for Digital Humanists

This post was originally published at LiteratureGeek.com on 11/20/2012. A short post for Thanksgiving week!

Yes, Reddit is full of memes. It’s also a platform for a thousand other areas (subreddits) aggregating new and rediscovered content; my recent tweets linking to Reddit amscot with DH on chestdocumentation on creating a working Myst book, photos of the arresting design of the Bebelplatz bookburning memorial, and the Anglish Moot constructed language wiki were all things I found through Reddit.

Reddit’s strengths are content voting and curation by the community. Logged-in users can vote each post up or down, so the best content rises to the top (there’s also a tab to see the most controversial, up- and down-voted content). Even if you don’t want to participate by creating posts or voting, you can create an account to curate your Reddit stream, pulling in only the subreddits that interest you. Some of these subreddits are mostly academic; most are a mix of links/thoughtful posts and jokes. If you just want the top content (which usually means less jokes, more serious entries), click on the “top” tab in the header and choose the time range, from entries posted during this hour to the top subreddit content over all time.

I recommend the following subreddits as places to dive in:

  1. /topicmodeling for anyone interested in #dhtopic (and curated by a #dhtopic attendee, I’m pretty certain…)
  2. Any of the subreddits populated by academics from specific fields are great–especially /askhistorians and /historicalwhatif. The former is a good spot to hear a bunch of period experts explain how people would have reacted to a specific thing at different points in time (everyday things, like what people ate; stranger things, like what the response to finding a person dead in a public space would have been at different points in time)–or otherwise learn about what different history nerds wish other people knew. The latter subreddit sometimes devolves into more speculative counterfactual fiction, but even the more narrative responses incorporate a decent amount of historical reference (Reddit’s placing of top-voted comments at the top helps you read just the best responses). The subreddits on literary studies and academia in general are pretty sparse.
  3. The SFW Porn Network is a collection of subreddits devoted to appreciating all kinds of great visual design (architecture, propaganda posters, nature…); I especially recommend /bookporn, /mapporn, and /historyporn for pretty and interesting photos of old books, strange maps, and historical moments. (I’m going to get some terrible spam on this blog now.)
  4. /dataisbeautiful for data visualizations
  5. /archivists
  6. /GirlGamers is a general space for female gamers, including some good discussions of gender and gaming (both players and game narratives)
  7. /3Dprinting for the latest in consumer 3D printing designs, creations, printer hacks, and news
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