We Are The Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet’s Culture Laboratory

Book review by Deane Barker tags: social-media, tech, society

Wonderfully complete history of Reddit, from the childhood lives of founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, through the (ultimately tragic) life of Aaron Swartz.

The book has short chapters, and is mainly episodic – each chapter covers some moment in the history of Reddit, and they’re all there: the rise of /r/The_Donald, Spezgiving, the Boston Bombers, the Fappening, and on and on. In reading it, I was struck at how far Reddit has come. It’s been around for over a decade, and as the title reads, it’s become something of a “culture laboratory” – a Zeitgeist of our ages.

Additionally, you begin to appreciate how hard it is to keep control of it, if you could at all. The editors and community team are basically riding a bucking bronco, trying to hang on. You can’t direct Reddit, in as much as you can only hope to contain it and perhaps suggest where it should go.

And the book covers the business (or lack thereof) behind Reddit. How mismanaged it has been, the comings and goings of dozens of people, the search for a CEO who would stick around, the comings and goings and comings again of Ohanian and Huffman, their sometimes-contentious relationship, the moving around the country of the office, and the curious case of Reddit Gifts, which, for a long time, was the only thing keeping the site in business.

Great book. Wonderful read, especially if you’ve spent as much damn time on Reddit as I have.

Book Info

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A hardcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

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