I am currently following the heart-wrenching and mysterious disappearance of CNET writer James Kim. I first learned about this early this morning on Digg. Trying to learn more about it, I tried going to Google News and Yahoo! News, but saw no articles posted about it. As it turned out, this story wasn’t broken by some local news station or newspaper. It was broken by engadget, a tech blog about new-fangled (you guessed it) gadgets. At the same time, the posting was closing in on 4,000 Diggs, which is the highest number I’ve seen for any Digg post (usually, anything over 500 is very good.) A little later in the day, another person posted a link to Digg about Mr. Kim and his family. Normally, when someone posts a duplicate story, it is marked as such by other users, and then usually ends up falling off the homepage. But in this case, commenters were responding by saying that duplicates should be encouraged for this post. Others are requesting that a feature be added that allows for pinning a story to the top of the homepage. And while they are waiting for Digg to respond, it appears that the community is creating their own pinning hack by allowing duplicate postings. Catastrophic or otherwise extreme events often bear the fruit of new ideas. While Mr. Kim’s disappearance probably doesn’t qualify as a catastrophe, it appears that it may in fact affect Digg, and possibly other similar sites. I’m very curious to see if/how/when Digg responds to this. Will they add any new features? Will they maybe address the issue of there being something off-color about ‘digging’ something that in fact is tragic? In other words, will they provide an alternative to saying ‘this is cool!’ (which really is what you’re doing when Digging a post, and instead being able to say ‘this is something serious that deserves attention.’ I guess what I’m getting at is the ability to express one’s tone when ‘digging’ a post. Arrrghhh, this is all so academic, and what does it all matter in the face of the possible disappearance of a man and his wife and two young kids. My heart goes out to them, and I truly hope they are going to be ok.