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For those in the know, last Saturday was the 13th edition of “Sundae Sauuce” at OddFellows Ice Cream Co. in Williamsburg (Eater)
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Why are people adding the word “reddit” to their Google searches?
Something interesting is happening on Google these days: folks are adding an extra word to their searches. The reason why says a lot about us humans —and the future of AI.
HUMAN OPINIONS > AI
The magic word people are adding to their searches is “reddit.”
And they’re doing it because they’re hungry for a human answer to their search queries.
In case you're unfamiliar, Reddit’s a social media site where anybody can post anything —links to news articles or videos, something they learned, a serendipitous photo, or anything else— for other “Redditors” to view, comment on, and (this last one is Reddit’s secret sauce) “upvote” or “downvote.”
Particularly funny or valuable posts/comments are endorsed, or upvoted, by other users, with the most upvoted posts appearing at the top of the main page. (Likewise, the most upvoted comments appear at the top of every comment section.)
Most of the action occurs on Subreddits, sections dedicated to a specific topic, however niche. There are Subreddits on any topic imaginable. One you may have heard of: “Wall Street Bets,” which launched the GameStop stock craze/short squeeze of 2021.
And it’s popular. Reddit is the 10th most-visited website in the world, and the 6th most-visited site in the US.
OK, REDDIT’S HUMAN. SO?
Well, the fact that people are deliberately adding the word Reddit to their Google searches means they are hungry for human written answers.
Why? The answer is surprisingly deep.
SHY CREATORS UNITE
Last year, I coined the phrase “shy creator economy” to refer to a subsection of creator economy.
In the shy creator economy, the people who contribute content actually don't have to show their faces or reveal their real names.
Reddit is a classic “shy creator” platform. (So’s Twitter.) The theory: it’s not that the ability to contribute behind a cloak of anonymity frees people up to share more than they otherwise would, even though that does happen.
Rather, the ability to remain anonymous means that a greater number of people are inclined to contribute. People who are experts, or otherwise knowledgable, on all sorts of subjects —including ones people Google.
WHAT ABOUT TROLLS?
The downside of all this anonymity, of course, is trolling. But Reddit, unlike Twitter, allows users to meaningfully upvote and downvote comments and posts.
This allows the “wisdom of the crowds” to determine a post or comment’s veracity and value. And for whatever reason, that system is working for Reddit.
Upvoitng/downvoting is not only elegant and efficient system, it’s also kept Reddit super relevant.
As humans, we hunger for more than just information when we have questions. We seek connection with other humans too.
Human written posts, comments, answers, and stories will always have the human writer’s emotions embedded in them, somewhere.
That’s our secret weapon against AI.
See, storytelling is actually an intrinsically human act. In fact, scholars think that the whole reason storytelling exists in the first place, was to help humans warn one another of danger, and/or connect with one another, so we could/can better organize ourselves into groups, giving us a higher chance of survival.
AI cannot feel all of these lovely, human emotions, so they will never really, truly replace a human written story.
I believe this. Apparently, so do a lot of Google searchers.
They're seeking the human signal amidst all of machine made noise.
And Google knows this too, obviously. That’s why it’s developing a whole new tab of search results it calls “Perspectives.” They’ll contain human written answers to whatever you’re querying. (Including, presumably, a lot of Reddit posts.)
OK. THE POINT?
Reddit, like all social media platforms, is powered by humans. And we humans are its competitive advantage over AI.
Our emotions —whatever they happen to be— are baked into anything we humans write. Those emotions make our posts and comments much more likely to connect, which in turn makes our answers so much more relevant than anything AI can cook up.
Look for Reddit to start developing ways to ensure that their Subreddits and comments sections remain as human written and as AI-free as possible.
Their relevance depends on it.
The Ask Jeeves-ification of online search: Are we watching history repeat? »»
Google’s AI pitch is a recipe for email hell »»
Google’s new Perspectives search helps you find actual human information online »»
Written by Jon Kallus. Any feedback? Simply reply. Like this? Share it!👇