Thursday Feb 15, 2007

Why is the Digg Community So Sensitive to Competition?

The Digg community is once again lashing out at a "shameless rip-off" site. This time their target is Yahoo, which has (in their own words) added "Digg-style voting" to their suggestion boards. There was a similar reaction months ago when Netscape.com re-launched itself as a voter-driven news portal.

Why do so many Digg users have a hair-trigger response against anyone who builds on Digg's ideas? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Imitation with due credit (as Yahoo provided in their blog post) is pretty-well beyond reproach.

Yes, Yahoo and Netscape took ideas from Digg. That's the way the world works. We build off of each others' ideas. If you can't accept that, you need to strip naked and move to some deserted cave. Every technology and idea we use today is a derivative of something which came before it.

If you think the "good guys" of the tech world sprang up from great new ideas, you're wrong (at least partially). The ideas may have been great, but they were never entirely new. So before you launch another campaign against a "shameless rip-off" of Digg, consider going after:

  • Linux, which shamelessly stole the design of UNIX.
  • Apache, which shamelessly stole the idea of serving web pages from Tim Berners-Lee.
  • Firefox, which shamelessly stole the idea of a graphical web browser from NCSA Mosaic.
  • Digg itself, which shamelessly stole the concept of voting from the ancient Greeks.
  • The paranoid members of the Digg community, who shamelessly stole the ideas of intolerance and isolationism from countless ancient tribes.

Yes, they're ridiculous examples. It's a ridiculous discussion. Building on the ideas of others is a fact of life. It's also a fact of Web 2.0, and it's time for lagging members of the Digg community to accept it.

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woodjr

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