Ever wished you could find the best stuff on Reddit automatically, without having to skim through subReddit after subReddit in your quest for interesting news, photos, and writing? (Or cat videos, as the case may be).
A travel and features writer for the Guardian, 28-year-old journalist and aspirant software coder Benji Lanyado created the very useful Reddit Edit this year as a way to curate the uber-popular content sharing website. You can see more of his globe-trotting work here.
We asked Lanyado about his motivations for creating a tool that skims only the best from the monster that is the larger Reddit world.
Why did you create Reddit Edit in the first place?
I've been using Reddit more and more over the last year, and gradually realised that, essentially, it's a newspaper features section, harvested by the internet. I wanted to highlight just how good Reddit is as a news-sourcing organism, by presenting it as an aggregator. I also have always found the UX [user experience] and design of Reddit horrible, and wanted to give it a facelift.
We find Reddit Edit remarkably useful at GlobalPost. Who was the target market for Reddit Edit?
Everyone. That said, I've noticed journalists and media people are using it the most ... it's ideal for news junkies, and those who are perpetually curious. And people who like seeing stupid pictures and laughing guiltily at them.
Are you a Redditor? What's the appeal of Reddit, beyond hilarious cat-videos and the remarkable variety of junk people can find on the Internet? (Full disclosure: I'm a Redditor, although I don't comment much...)
I lurk way more than I comment/submit. For me, the biggest appeal is the upvoting/downvoting mechanism — it means that Reddit's army of web scourers do the hard work, sorting the wheat from the chaff. Then Reddit Edit skims off the top. The result is a decent snapshot of the web's hive mind — what it's finding interesting, right now.
And yes, sometimes the web's hive mind is puerile and stupid, but it's honest. The remarkable thing is the variance ... one minute Redditors are LOLing at a cat, the next they are discussing fiscal regulation in China.
Benji Lanyado of Reddit Edit
Is there stuff you don't like about Reddit?
Yup, it has its disturbing corners, but so does Facebook and Twitter. I'd also think that while it is probably fairly representative of the web's leanings — i.e. mostly liberal, white — it certainly isn't a fair reflection of the world. I'd love it if a broader church was represented.
Do you call yourself a geek? Why or why not? Obviously this is a remarkably imprecise question, but it's interesting to see who positively IDs themself as a "geek" or "nerd," and why.
I'm an aspiring geek. I'm a travel journalist (and feature writer) for the Guardian and NYT, but recently left my in-house job at the Guardian to learn to code. I love it. There's something incredibly empowering about being able to have an idea and build it yourself — as I did with Reddit Edit. In the modern world, geeks are artists. I hate the idea of geekery being a fundamentally technical pursuit. It isn't. It's creative.
Why did you decide to move away from the fabulously well-remunerated world of journalism into technology and computers?
[It was] only three months ago. But I haven't turned away ... I want to stay in journalism for the time being, in the squidgy bit in between editorial and technology. I think having the ability to write and code should be, on paper, a very powerful mix. I'm currently working on a few things that combine the two, while continuing to buff up on my coding skills — I did a front end development course with General Assembly to get me started (RedditEdit was actually my final project for it), and I'm starting a back end course (on Ruby on Rails) today! Who knows what's next ...