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the future of forum posting: where will reddit be in 5 years? (contextual essay)

Pitch & Beta Videos

Digital Artefact:

Blog Post

Contextual Essay

Overview

My digital artefact is a video speculating the future of forum posting, with a specification on Reddit in the next 5 years. It covers an overview of Reddit itself, controversial history, 4Chan, statistics, and then future suggestions. It was posted to YouTube, but is also included in a blog post that has the references linked.

Research & Influence

Reddit itself has been in the headlines lately for its influence in cryptocurrency and the GameStop incident in r/wallstreetbets. A handful of subreddits are to accredit for the current Dogecoin success, which is now being endorsed by Elon Musk. If that is not an important area to be researching the future of, then I am not sure what is. 

I think there is a lack of recognition of the collective intelligence and community that Reddit presents. It has been shown that online communities that use innovative social technologies can encourage collective decision making (Maciuliene & Skarzauskiene, 2016). There is a real opportunity for ideas to take off in these environments and make serious change – positive or negative. 

Reddit diverges from the standard social media site as it is modelled around traditional forum posting, this is something I really wanted to cover in my DA. It facilitates areas of discussion, with the hierarchical nature of comment threads. Tim Weigner compares these threads to a structure of a tree, because it allows for divergent subtopics resulting in a more robust overall discussion (Weigner, 2014).

Futurist Thinking

My futurist framework was inspired by Wendell Bell, with the backbone being the set of six futurist assumptions in his “Overview of Future Studies”. As briefly touched on in my video, I took inspiration from the following (summarised) assumptions the most: 

  • Time moves unidirectionally irreversibly from the past to the future. 
  • Not everything that exists now will exist in the future. 
  • Future outcomes can be influenced by individual and collective action. 

I included the knowledge I learned about the foundations and uses of Reddit, as well as its crucial history counterpart 4Chan. The historical uses heavily influenced my future timelines, especially the past and future of American politics. 

In the week four lecture, Chris discusses the laws of future studies, and specifically Professor Jim Dators laws. The third law being “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”, I kept this in mind with my second scenario of Reddit being re-designed. Since there is such a pressure and overconsumption of influencer media, it was important to recognise that we can in fact – ruin Reddit. 

Reiterations

My digital artefact was reimagined a million times over, but quite ultimately was left until the last minute. I believe that the final product is a good video, but my process lacked the essence of a digital artefact assessment. I took on a lot of feedback from the pitch and beta videos, which were the catalysts for my topic shifts and project reworks. The feedback was based on my concept work and not my physical project, because there was not one. 

I had plans to share drafts and make Reddit posts, which would have improved my feedback loop tenfold. The lack of public engagement was a definite limitation I put on myself, but I am still happy with the end result – even if only 2 people watch it.

Utility & Trajectory

The future of forum posting should be a hotter topic than it is, considering the current impact Reddit has had in the financial world over the last 5 months. The utility of this digital artefact lies with both Reddit users/enthusiasts and those looking to make a life with forum posting. The possible ways social media can unfold is a significant area to cover when looking at our future society, and forums are apart of that. 

The continuation of a deep dive into Reddit would be a great area for this project to move onto into the future. A series would have been a solid path to take if it was outside of an assignment with potential time limitations.

References

Bell, W., 1996. An Overview of Futures Studies. The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies, 1.

Hart, R., 2021. ‘It’s Doge Time’: Dogecoin Surges As Reddit Traders Push To Make It The Crypto GameStop. Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/01/28/its-doge-time-dogecoin-surges-as-reddit-traders-push-to-make-it-the-crypto-gamestop/?sh=45a5139d217e> [Accessed 3 June 2021].

Weninger, T., 2014. An exploration of submissions and discussions in social news: mining collective intelligence of Reddit. Social Network Analysis and Mining, 4(1). Available at: <https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s13278-014-0173-9.pdf>.

Maciuliene, M & Skarzauskiene, A 2016, ‘Emergence of collective intelligence in online communities’, Journal of business research, vol. 69, no. 5, pp. 1718–1724.

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