Guardian column: Digg

This week’s Media Guardian column on Kevin Rose and the Digg empire. Excerpt:

I recently trained the faculty of the journalism school where I teach how to blog, vlog, podcast, wiki, and Digg. Actually, my son demonstrated Digg, and that was the most controversial moment of the day, as the professors fretted about second-rate stories getting on the front page. Jake showed them how the members can label a story “lame” and off it goes. He made it clear that Digg is owned by its public and that’s why it works. Shouldn’t all news organisations wish the public owned the news?

  • Rob

    I disagree with the idea from the article’s author that Digg “works.” I think it sucks. It is an example of the “popularity breeds popularity” effect that is common in networks and was proven in the study I wrote about here. Also, I wrote a general piece about why I don’t like Digg or Reddit very much. Five year old articles make it to the front page as “news.” Weird esoteric pieces are also popular. I have a hard time believing that many people really care about an emacs language mode creation tutorial, or why Lisp is better/worse than Python. These aren’t mainstream articles. Digg and Reddit just prove the problem with Web2.0 hype – all these new companies are pulling from the same user base. Web2.0 companies don’t encourage new people to use the web, they are attracting the same group of bloggers, techies, and college kids to new site after new site after new site.

  • DIGG does work… but it’s a reflection of the audience, which isn’t mainstream. That’s why weird and esoteric articles make it to the front page, and that’s why we see articles about why Python rules.

    Could a DIGG concept work for a more mainstream audience? Sure… the NY Times “most emailed articles” is a similar concept, leveraging what the audience thinks is popular.

    I heard that DIGG was going to use some of that VC money to try and push into different areas. It’s still very tech focused know, but what happens when they release a more mainstream product? Lord knows they certainly have a pretty big user base to start out with.

  • One small edit – Kevin Rose did not lose his job when G4 bought TechTV – he remained with The Screen Savers, I believe including through the founding of Digg, and left when G4 transformed TSS into Attack of the Show.

  • Rob

    The key point I want to make is that Digg doesn’t find the best stuff, the most interesting stuff, or anything else like that. It simply finds the most popular stuff. Once a post reaches a certain threshold, it keeps getting more votes. Popularity breeds popularity. The initial threshold (tipping point) is probably determined by methods that are random and chaotic. Some articles will be popular no matter when they are posted. Some will never be popular. But a large middle group may or may not be popular depending on the day, and who is reading.

    I think Slashdot provides information that is much more important and useful than Digg. I also think is much more useful. I just don’t see Digg ever becoming as valuable as Slashdot… at least, once this web2.0 bubble pops.

  • Eric,
    Thanks. You’re right. My bad word choice.

  • Have a look at Reddit: The number 3 story is a clarification of an earlier article. That’s much more prominent than corrections buried in the back of a newspaper.

  • TLB

    I don’t know what problem those at reddit have, but I posted two things there:

    MichaelChertoff apologizes forlatest Rex-related deaths (a satire about the new DHS mascot)


    weathergirl JackieJohnson

    Both of those sunk like a stone. I originally thought the last one would get like 100 votes and be on their front page for a few weeks. I guess reddit viewers aren’t interested in what sweet Jackie’s got to offer.

  • I did an experiment with Digg which made my website crash.
    The article is called The Digg Experiment.