Monday Jan 05, 2009

Has Digg jumped the shark?

The comments on the Digg post on "Shouting in the Data Centre" [ Youtube | this Blog ] disappointed me. I am not a great user of Digg and very few of my submissions have taken off. It is one of the feeds I subscribe to using Google Reader which is my first choice feed reader today. It seems that I am obviously not interested in the same stuff as most of its users, but to find the majority of comments about the provenance of the Digg takes self reference to the point of absurdity. It reminded me of a very recent a post 'openpeel', called '5 Ways to fix Digg', and it also reminds me of Simon Phipps' comment,

"When you invent a system, you invent the system that games it!".

Its a shame, but I suppose that the social software designers will have to become cleverer. It's clearly a fact that a 'karma' systems attracts people to contribute to the 'wisdom of crowds', but also trying to measure the influence, popularity or even innovativeness/leadership of contributors often leads to anti-social, even destructive behaviour.

I wonder if digg has jumped the shark as its user community has grown beyond an expertise focus and its designers loose the arms race with the gamers. Is there an alternative? I have considered for a while the use of 'clubs', where feed consumers, i.e. me and you, qualify the contributors to our feeds, or membership is gated. I use del.icio.us to keep my bookmarks and thus act as the original source of my contributions to finding interesting news. These thus become available through RSS, and then those I really think are interesting to others, I use Google Reader shares to share them. In the past I have used Slynkr, and have been using Digg to act as an entry point to my friend feed. The Google Share is a cute feature as the Google Reader makes my google friends' shares available to me. I use this to read other people's shared articles. The google shares I post may become my Digg replacement, but there's now no weighting or rating and my community is pretty small, since it is based on google talk/chat friends, which is not my first choice chat protocol.

The Google Share/Talk synergy is another interesting example of leveraging closed communities, and functional synergy by the software authors. Retaining the choice of internet participants against this new "lock in" could be open source's next big problem to solve.

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