Post by Simone Hoyte
The Wall Street Journal reports that Digg has been sold for $500,000 to Betaworks . Digg is a social media news site that allows users to submit stories and vote stories up or down. Once valued at 160MM, Digg began its descent through a mix of social and monetary motives, and never figured out how to incorporate their power users into their community without giving them all the power.
Digg had the promise of being the future of all media, not just social media and enabled individual users to curate the web. But, as many Digg users quickly discovered, gangs of gatekeepers kept a tight grip on the site’s story flow. People submitted stories that were nominally voted up or down. But those stories didn’t get more traffic linearly as the up votes flew. The traffic was instead driven by an algorithm selecting the story and driving it to the front page.
The only way to consistently get on the home page was to work at it like a job. And so, some people began to work at it like a job, and then it became their jobs. While some really thought of themselves as an important part of the journalistic enterprise, many others contracted out their services to entities of all kinds. Stripped of any institutional sense of editorial ethics, many Digg power users ended up promoting all kinds of inferior stories along with good stories from legitimate writers and sites. Everyday users were realizing that nothing they submitted ever even had a chance of going to the front page.
In short, the community broke. And the community drove the content machine. Social networking companies are not technology companies as much as they are community companies. Digg introduced likes and friending, quickly replicated by competitors and Kevin Rose remarked that Digg failed because Social Media grew up? But is that true? It appears Digg failed to evolved.
Questions for class:
1) Digg was once valued at $1600MM but lacked the cultural resonance to stay competitive. What does this collapse mean for other social networking sites?
2) What was your personal experience like on Digg?