I Can’t Digg It

Today comes speculation from the occasionally correct “RumorMonger” feature of the ValleyWag blog that the always-for-sale Digg is about to actually be sold, perhaps for somewhere between $300 million to $400 million. (See Michael Arrington’s head-shaking history of Digg-for-sale rumors.)

The RumorMonger wonders aloud whether the buyer will be, maybe, The Washington Post or the New York Times. Whatever.

To me this is just more evidence that the Bubble of Insanity continues its fearsome expansion, with investors who lack confidence in their ability to identify the Next Big Thing instead settle for vulgar overspending on the Last Big Thing.

Sure, whoever buys Digg gets a huge audience. But who are those people?

Anyone who spends much time on Digg (which I am not recommending) knows the web popularity service does not surface the most worthy or interesting material. Just about the only way to elevate even a very good story to the front page of Digg is to ask other Diggers and other friends to Digg it. This is a peculiar way to spend one’s time–a coercive, small, even mean act of rebellion against the very wisdom-of-the-crowds spirit on which Digg was founded.

Anyone who doubts me should consider: As I write this, the most Digg’d item that comes up via a Digg search using the term “Digg” produces the following top result: “The best video of Ron Paul: everyone please digg!!!!! [15,339 Diggs]

Among the Top 10 Diggees at the moment of this posting, 4 fall under the category of political paranoia (the draft is returning, something about a massive dragnet of all citizens), 2 are odd stories about sex, 1 is a techie inside joke about blocking popups. Two are genuinely interesting: a hauntingly beautiful time-elapsed graphic image of one day’s air traffic, and a chart that appears to show how the U.S. dollar has been sliding during the Bush years. The guy who submitted that one had Digg’d nine other stories within a two-minute period six hours ago.

Now I have never met a Digger–by which I mean one of the people who actually spends his or her (but more often his) time asking others to Digg stories, and Digging theirs in return. But I have a hard time imagining what goes through his head, why he chooses to spend time this way, what he does in his, how you say, “free” time.

I urge anybody who is seriously considering buying Digg for an amount that could say, fund the Iraq War for several weeks to back away from the balance sheets and metric reports and spend some time at the elbow of a prolific Digger.

Is that the audience you want to buy?

Explore posts in the same categories: Digg, NY Times, social networks, Washington Post, Web 2.0, wisdom of the crowds

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