[Reddit]( has spawned a number of genres for and among its community of readers and writers. One of the most compelling of those genres is the [AMA](, short for “Ask Me Anything.” They are housed under the URL IAMA, which is a pun on the acronym that allows a poster to begin with “I am a …” I really like the indefinite article in there: it emphasizes that correspondents are often speaking from personal experience of a category of work or experience. Such a gesture de-emphasizes the individual, which helps, I think, to take a little air out of the celebrity culture that seems to dominate so much of public discourse. In the process of doing so, it makes individuals who are responding out of their experience into mini-celebrities, again tilting the balance to something more interesting than: here is a small group of famous (or rich) people and everyone else is a schmuck.

Nowhere could there be a better example of this than a recent [AMA from a 97 year old who worked for NASA during the first fourteen Apollo missions]( Let’s face it, any 97 year old as articulate as this is going to make for compelling reading, and anyone who has passed through as many history-making events or met as many renown individuals and who is willing to speak so honestly is going to tell us things we need to know. Perhaps the biggest bit was this: the idea to slingshot Apollo 13 around the moon came from a now unknown MIT grad student who was later obscured from the historical record because he had long hair and a beard and NASA felt it couldn’t afford to shake its careful facade.