Archive for the ‘Digg’ category

Digging Itself (Maybe) Out of A Hole

25, January, 2008

Digg, the original “wisdom”-of-the-crowds web content filter, has caved.

It’s abandoning–“tweaking” would be the kindest description–its earlier policy of allowing users alone to elevate or demote web content to visibility. By making changes to its algorithm,  it will essentially diminish the impact of the votes (aka “Diggs”) of a hardcore group of power users who have  disproportionate influence over what content sees the light of day.

Founder Kevin Rose has a  sly, even disingenuous, blog entry explaining the change.

Scott Karp, author of the Publishing 2.0 blog, offers an insightful explanation of what’s really going on–and what it means to the whole wisdom-of-the-crowds concept.

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I Can’t Digg It

8, November, 2007

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?

Video is Hideo, Cont’d

30, August, 2007

There’s an excellent column today on Forbes.com by Louis Hau, in which he takes up the question of why nobody has found a way to make money from online video. Let me offer my two links’ worth:

1. I return to the work of one of my heroes, usability guru Jakob Nielsen, who two years ago did some excellent work heatmapping and eyetracking talking-head video on the Web, and demonstrating how useless it is in this environment.  (Don’t miss the “gaze replay recording” for some real-time fun.) His summary:

Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.

To remount my hobby horse: Despite all the money being thrown into online video, it remains a lousy Web experience. People want to use the Web–control their own clickstream, be masters of their own infotour–not passively receive media that comes at them on its own good time. I believe the only online video that will ultimately win an audience that can be monetized is content that is so compelling in its context, and so well suited to the medium, that people are willing to abide it despite a terrible user experience.

 I’ve been wrong before, sometimes twice a week. We’ll see how it plays out.

2. All of which makes yesterday’s announcment that Digg has created a separate navigation for video clips!all the less significant. If there is a meaningful distinction between the Digging of video and the rating of it on YouTube, it escapes me. Call Digg’s product MeTooTube.

I think the only significant thing about Digg’s move is that it illustrates that UGV is so rampant among the easily bored, easily amused youth wasting their precious lifeforce on the Web that Digg has to offer up the same stuff just to retain market share. If Digg has a plan to monetize its videos, that escapes me too. 

The title of this post, by the way, comes from a 50-year-old quote by another of my heroes, the retro-cool pop poet half-genius Ogden Nash. He was of course speaking of video delivered via a screen nearly as large as the one you hope to get on your next laptop.

I think I’ll go add that quote to the [slowly] growing list of 2.0-phorisms launched just yesterday on this very site. Only one civilian contribution so far. Please feel free to join the fun.