Embarking on massive crowdsourced oral history project

Erik Martin, Reddit’s general manager, wants to mobilize over 4,000 users a month for a year-long oral history project -- which he hopes will be “one of if not the largest oral history projects ever.”

Mar 3, 2020, 11:51 am*

IRL

Kevin Morris 

Kevin Morris

Social news site Reddit, with its often robust and sometimes surprisingly honest discussions, already provides a window into the lives of its nearly 20 million monthly visitors.

It’s a veritable treasure trove for future social historians.

But Erik Martin, Reddit’s general manager, wants the site to leave an even bigger legacy.

He wants to mobilize over 4,000 users a month for a year-long oral history project — which he hopes will be “one of if not the largest oral history projects ever.”

”It’s doable,” Martin wrote in the post announcing his plan. “We can create something that will remain long after all of us are dead and gone.”

The plan?

Redditors will submit and then vote on the questions for the project, eventually choosing ten. Participants will then conduct interviews with whomever they choose, and upload them to a “Reddit-powered database,” according to Martin.

He said he hopes at least 4,200 redditors can conduct the interviews once a month — a total of 50,000 interviews by the year’s end.

At that, the project will be big, but not as big as the Veteran’s History Project. Organized by the Library of Congress, that decade-old project is largest in the United States. Volunteers have logged more than 75,000 interviews, organizers told the Daily Dot.

The plan is still in its infancy — Martin was just testing the water with his post. But, he told the Daily Dot he think sit will launch “soon.”

Considering Reddit’s success in previous community-driven projects — including organizing the largest Secret Santa exchange in the world and launching the Stephen Colbert and Daily Show rally in Washington DC last year — don’t be surprised to hear 50,000 redditor-recorded voices flooding the Internet in a year’s time.

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*First Published: Jul 7, 2011, 4:49 am