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Friday, December 31, 2010

Digg Down

I register only mild interest in Digg, the content aggregator that has seen better days. Digg has had, and presumably continues to have, a significant user base, but it never captured my involvement. Even so, Digg tempts me to ruminate.

The idea of sharing interesting Internet finds sounds good, and apparently for many, it worked. But you can see where things can go wrong. I’ll enumerate, just so that I can use a bullet list:

  • People will try to game the system. Those with something to sell or gain just might find ways to make their enthusiasm count more than that of  ‘the average person’.
  • Trolls, louts, loudmouths, and other irritants of the Internet will gain control of the stage.
  • Interference from the aggregator.

Digg bases its business (and it is a business) on trends, and on the hope that items will go viral. The concept of ‘going viral’ seems under-examined. People treat it as a pot of gold at the end of a hopeful rainbow.

In truth, ‘going viral’ means word of mouth. People talk about the products and services that please them. The noise of a claque might create temporary interest, but that interest will wither if unaccompanied by some satisfaction for the consumer. Social media helps get the word out, but the consumer’s judgment proves final.

It looks like Digg could not find answers to any of the problems bulleted above. I won’t prognosticate, maybe Digg will return to glory. I see Digg, however, as one more disappointing use of the Internet.

I do not blame Digg, though I hazard to say that Digg jumped the shark. The Internet grows less into a repository of information—remember the Information Revolution?—and more into a place of scams, diversion, and self interest. As a follower of trends, Digg did what all trends do. Trends fade. Digg, it seems, has faded.

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