digg.com

Thu Jul 27 23:39:09 2006 EDT (-0400 GMT)

Apparently people are interested in this thing.

Digg.com has been mentioned numerous times at every conference I’ve been to this summer: Random people talked about it in presentations, Keynotes including Tim Bray of Sun, BlackBoard’a CEO Michael Chasen and David Weinberger (of the Cluetrain Manifesto) all mentioned it. At WebCT’s Chicago conference this year someone asked me about Digg while I was reading stories on my laptop and asked if I was reading it in responce David Weinberger’s keynote. I totally shot him down and said “um, I’ve had an account for one, no, I guess, two years now — since December 2003″ .. back peddling I added .. “but it’s great and I’m glad David Weinberger mentioned it.” not realizing that he clearly had only learnt about digg a day ago.

Digg & Firefox

I read digg almost every day with the username mattclare – I keep the main RSS feed in my Firefox toolbar. In fact, I’m trying to track down more interesting people who read digg because with the recent growth of articles I find it easier to view the “What your friends are digging” page than the main page.
Digg is bigg and it deserves to be, it has become a great technology news site and with its latest revision it has become an OK general news site (though I still prefer news.google.ca).

If imitation is the highest form of flattery than digg’s been collecting a lot of votes in that category too. Netscape just cloned it and Netscape’s boss Jason Calacanis offered to pay $1000/month to Digg’s top posters (and those on Newsvine, Flickr, Reddit, and del.icio.us) to post on netscape.com‘s ripoff Digg page instead – apparently the people who aren’t smart enough to change their default home page also aren’t smart enough find and submit articles.

Jason Calacanis is actually a pretty cool dude, and I really liked his “I didn’t tow your car” analogy he used when he went around to meet with all the AOL executives to bring them on board with the changes he wanted to make to the company. He introduced himself by comparing this situation to a NYC car impound lot which has a sign that says “the people working here did not tow your car. They are trying their best to help you retrieve your car.  Anger will not help.” Good line, good introduction.

But now Calacanis is becoming a real pigg. Kevin Rose, creator of digg.com and former TechTV personality, called the proposal crap on his rowdy podcast “Diggnation” and suggested that a better strategy would be coming up with an original idea for a website. Calacanis complained that Kevin didn’t address the issue and implied he is exploiting digg’s users. Kevin shot back basically saying that Jason following a bad idea with bad behaviour.

The point is the ten top submitters to digg don’t make digg, the framework and community make digg. The loss of the ten top submitters make as much of a difference as the loss of the top ten readers of this million plus hits per day website. At the moment everyone has equal access to digg, equal incentive and competes in the same competition (dare I saw market) of submissions. The owners of the site make money of the site, but they also give away everything it produces for free.

If Calacanis thinks that paying a grand to posters is the way to jump start the new netscape.com I think he’ll quickly learn that it’ll be an addiction that’s hard to kick and will only end in netscape dying in a gutter somewhere.

Netscape.com needs to reinvent itself, but the only thing less sincere than a community of equals with a few paid a little more equally is this phony rivalry/publicity stunt. At least one can take solace in the fact that netscape.com has already been hacked and that most of the stories promoted to the home page are about how much the site sucks.

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