Geeks and the News Cycle

Short Form


Large news entities - like Gawker and Huffington Post - that cater to casual and regular consumers get some of their most popular news stories from places like Reddit, Twitter, and HackerNews. Their news stories are sourced by the user generated content of these sites - the commons if you will - they digest them, and then profit from the advertising income. This talk will look into how this consumer-newsgiant-consumer dynamic treats the communities that it benefits from, how the 'merit' of news stories' ranking on popularity competition sites like reddit relate to the meritocracy in tech, and how people react to suddenly being at the center of a media storm.


Reddit, Twitter, HackerNews, etc are places for subsets of geek culture to hang out. You can talk about whatever you want – kittens, gadgets, programming, raping people, ethics, games, journalism, etc. Through votes and retweets popular news gets amplified and spread further.

But not all news is equal – some gets more attention. And the people who can identify this news get rewarded for posting it. Over time the most successful posters of news get a reputation and a following of their own. As a result, the algorithms that power the popularity news sites (and the people who watch this news) will weigh new incoming news with that in mind.

The most consumable stories make their way into modern media outlets like Gawker, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, etc. As a result you have subculture websites deciding what is worthy of news and you have media giants focusing on the top ten news stories from these subcultures and feeding them into our mainstream.

This talk will investigate the modern news cycle and how it chooses what news is important from the news that is publicly available. It will look into how the meritocracy implicit in these news generators affects the societies around them, and why they’re such attractive places for news agencies to source their stories. It will investigate how news acts as part of the commons, and how it gets monetized by large corporations without giving back to the originators.

While exploring the cycle of news producers, stories, and consumers, this talk will look into what happens to the people who are caught at the center of those news and media storms, how their private lives are affected, what happens when online crime-solving crusades target the wrong people, and when news sourcing attracts a thousand times more attention then the source is comfortable with.


News, Reddit, meritocracy, twitter, HackerNews, Commons

Speaking experience

This will be my first speaking experience outside of minor meetup events and company-wide presentations.