Monthly Archives: March 2006

I’m aDiggted

I think of Digg as a kind of web-wide gossip corner for nerds, a contest as to who can dig up the newest and most interesting content found on the web, in which interest is measured in how many ‘diggs’ you can earn from fellow nerds. And because the homepage is a near stream of new posts, and every post is quickly judged as to its newness and interest factor, it’s very addictive – a kind of live pulse of new developments on the technology front, in which the large and very active Digg community ensures high quality content. It’s also a great showcase of ajax functionality, to the point where I’ve seen people referring to ajax functionality elsewhere as Digg-like. My only complaint about Digg is that it’s specifically about tech-related news (with a few other seemingly random categories, like music thrown in) – and I guess that is a defensible design choice, since maybe the stream of new posts would become overwhelmingly fast or just too watered down if it were a site aggregating anything new on the web. And yet, after finding that I love to keep checking back to Digg (it’s the perfect diversion for nerds from something you’re working on), I’ve also found that it makes me want to have a site like Digg but with general news. Now, Google News does fill that role to a certain extent, but I guess what I’m really looking for is a Google News/Digg mashup. In other words, rather than having the latest news pulled automatically from a set of news sources, how about letting the human community push the latest news to the site? At first, one would think that this just wouldn’t work, since headline news is so time-sensitive, it just wouldn’t move fast enough, but I would say that Digg disproves that. All that really is needed is enough of a critical mass of users who constantly are online (which so many of us are), and who like to share with others things they find interesting. I think applying the Digg concept to headline news also would affect the tenor of how we interpret the news feeds. Currently, the only measurement of interest or importance of a news story at Google News is the number of related stories (e.g. huge events have several thousand related stories), but that is only a representation of the editorial decisions of a finite set of online news editors, rather than a reflection of how interesting the (millions of?) users of the site are finding the respective news item. On the one hand, it could be very cool to let users rate hard news, but on the other it could turn into a big mess, since it could likely quickly be overrun by political forces, such as swift-boaters maybe flooding a positive story about George Bush with diggs (though right-wingers seem pretty ambivalent about him these days, but that’s another story…); at the same time, I would still love to see such a site in action, if nothing else as social experiment.