How the Newly Independent Reddit Sees Its Mission

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When I worked for Wired.com, I sat about 50 feet from the Reddit guys and I'm friendly with co-founder Alexis Ohanian because we are both men named Alexis. Their offices were a drywalled-in corner of Wired.com's half of the Wired floor of an old brick warehouse in San Francisco. It was clear that our corporate overlords were not sure what to do with this strange site run by a tiny team of nerds. It was not the most freewheeling startup situation, but Reddit grew anyway, especially after Digg lost its dominance in the social news space.


While Conde Nast struggled to build "community" on most of their content properties, it just seemed to grow on effing trees at Reddit. Herds of rabid users roamed the Great Reddit plains. They proved difficult to monetize, though, and Conde's parent company, Advance Publications has halfway spun the company out, as Reddit's Erik Martin explains

I'm happy for the Reddit guys mostly because now they can pursue their mission, which is as lofty as it is good.

The reddit team, our Board, our informal advisors, and many in the reddit community sincerely believe that reddit has the potential, over the next generation, to positively impact journalism, civic engagement, fundraising, product development, and learning.
Journalism, civic engagement, fundraising, product development, and learning! That's going way beyond "pageviews," which is what I think most content companies are thinking about. The people who make Reddit -- and to a lesser extent, the people who use it -- believe they are building something fundamentally new and significant in the world. No wonder they have an easier time creating rabid users than your average magazine.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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