Sunday, November 30, 2008

Web 2.0: Digg - The Final News Frontier

Welcome to a new era in information. With the introduction of Web 2.0 users are now in the driver’s seat. Content is entirely on users side. Whatever content these individuals deem necessary to that specific website, it will be added, pending it follows the terms of service for that website. For generations individuals have had to settle with media that was dictated to them by a foreign entity, or mass media conglomerates. Now that the Internet has taken the reigns of content and returned them to the public, the public is now able to create their own voice. There is no better website at the forefront of Web 2.0 than Users are able to use that voice at their discretion. Digg, although relatively new on the Internet, has grown by leaps and bounds to create one of the most unique websites that not only attracts countless users from around the world, but also allows users to discover and inform countless individuals with a click of the mouse.

Digg just might be the simplest idea ever implemented to fill the void that most people did not know existed. Jay Adelson, current CEO of Digg, spoke with USA Today concerning how everything came together and stated, “Kevin Rose had this sense that if we could harness the power of the users, it could be a better source of filtering for the overwhelming amount of data online” (Graham, 2007). Digg was the brainchild of Kevin Rose. Kevin Rose, the founder and chief architect, is a computer-science dropout from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (BusinessWeek par. 1). After working with a couple of dotcom’s prior to the Internet bubble bursting in 2001. Rose moved to the San Francisco area to become a production assistant for the newly created television show, The Screen Savers, airing on TechTV (G4TV par. 3). Here Rose would come into contact with countless technology “forefathers” that would later give him the idea of going out there and creating something. The idea was planted to create, just to create something.

On December 5th 2004, Digg was launched for worldwide consumption (MacManus, 2006). Although, the project was seen as something of a long shot by most, it slowly progressed to popularity among a loyal fan base. Time and time again Digg showed skeptics that it would be sticking around for years to come. On launch day, Digg registered about 13,000 new users, which apparently was unheard of at the time (BusinessWeek, par. 2). Digg was started with the idea of harnessing users, as Jay Adelson put it, and giving them a voice in this new media enriched world. By putting the users first it allowed Digg to go beyond what analysts were predicting about this little startup company.

For instance, by building a community first, that loyal fan base, it allowed the management at Digg to secure some revenue from advertisements. "It's one of those things where we know we could put crazy ads all over the site and clutter it up, but we don't want to do that," says Rose. "We have a clear path toward becoming a profitable company” (BusinessWeek par. 5). Profitable company they are. Apparently Digg was in talks with Google for an estimated 200 million dollar range, before walking away from the table (Arrington, 2008). With no buyers on the scene it may leave some wary but according to some, Digg generates revenues worth 3 million a year (BusinessWeek par. 4). Gathering more funds might not be on the management’s mind as of late considering the amount of growth they are receiving and revenue from the advertisements on the website. But one thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind is where do they go next? And how does a company that produces nothing generate millions of dollars? Welcome to the new era of information that is Digg.

The history and the man, Kevin Rose, behind Digg have been uncovered. Yet, Digg itself remains a mystery. The simplest of ideas are those that usually take off and become popular. The premise behind Digg is quite simple. Essentially, Digg produces nothing unless the users of the website are willing to supply the content. With that being said some still might be confused about the concept of Digg and its inner workings. Digg is a social content as well as a social bookmark website.

Users supply content. To elaborate on the type of content that is available it could be a textual story, video from YouTube, or a picture from Flickr. Of course the content is not limited to that but those are the three main types of content that make their way onto the Digg website. What makes that significant is that the source of the content does not matter, it can be a reputable website like the BBC News, or it could be from a small blog that is in obscurity on the Internet. The source of the information does not matter mainly because fellow users who see the content have the ability to “digg” the content up thus giving it recognition and ultimately making its way to the front page. Sometimes users do not find the content the most reliable, it might have bias or it just might be a duplicate of another story that was posted 15 minutes ago. In these cases users have the ability to bury these stories. With the more buries these stories obtain the less likely they are to be viewed by the majority on the front page. With burying you are given certain options. Users have the option to bury it under one of five categories, duplicate story, spam, wrong topic, inaccurate, and ok this is lame.

Digg allows users to supply content and discover content. In order for users to participate and to “digg” or “bury” a story and be apart of the democratic process that is Digg. Individuals need to sign in and create an account. With the creation of an account, individuals open an endless door of possibilities. The biggest plus of having an account is that users are able to comment on each story that is submitted to Digg. Once again these users have the ability to “digg” or “bury,” but this time in relation to their fellow user’s comments.

For instance one of the most popular stories on Digg at the moment happens to be titled, “Little Bastard.” The story is a picture of a puppy urinating on a laptop. One user, jaymulder, wrote, “I always wonder how people take pictures like this. Anyone in the right mind would pick the dog up before turning on a camera to take a picture. Totally planned.” The amount of “diggs” that jaymulder received for that comment was 824. Basically most of those people were thinking the same thing and decided to let their voice be heard under the user jaymulder. I was one of them. But one user who met the fate of being buried 23 times, cursorTD, stated, “Must be from a Mac using family. Surprised he's not foaming at the mouth though--those mac lovers are rabid!” Like any place on the Internet, and this especially goes for Digg, Apple and Microsoft users are always at one another’s throats. The majority seems to deal with the situation by burring any individual who even invokes bad statements toward one of the groups.

One of the biggest features on Digg happens to be its user profiles. Yes, users are able to participate in the process of digging and burying. But by having a profile, each and every story that you “dig” or comment on goes directlying to your profile for others to see. Now that Digg is on the radar, more and more websites as well as social networking sites are implementing tools to bring Digg to all corners of the Internet. One social networking website, Facebook, now has the option for Facebook users to import their Digg activity over to their feed for their friends to see.

Those that make up the Digg community are largely male. It has been said that men usually gravitate toward new technologies first. Ultimately it can be any type of technology. New and interesting things just interest men. According to BusinessWeek (2006) 94% are male; more than half are IT types in their 20s and 30s making $75,000 or more. Considering for a moment that Digg was created by Kevin Rose, who is 31 years of age. Digg fits in nicely into the idea that Kevin and his peers created something that those around his age could appreciate. These users really do appreciate it, all 2.7 million of them (Graham-Cumming, 2008).

Most users though use Digg merely as a watering hole of some sort. All of the content that is available on the web is at times hard to find. By having your peers bring that information to your fingertips it enables users to find out about information faster. For instance when any type of conflict arises the information will be readily available on Digg. When some news outlets such as CNN or BBC world news are just getting the information, some obscure news source might have already been publishing countless pages on the incident. Thus Digg fills the void that some individuals might have never known existed, had they not been turned onto Digg in the first place. Living in a fast passed world, Digg allows users to keep up with all the content out there.

Users might be using Digg as well for the simple idea that most mainstream news outlets only cover news that gets the most ratings. Digg serves as an unfiltered news source. So where in America they block out deaths of American soldiers in Iraq, you could quite possibly see some photographs somewhere else. The ability to see anything and everything is there for Digg users.

Although Digg is fairly young it has come a long way. It has come through lot obstacles on its way to popularity. The most known obstacle to those familiar with Digg happens to be when countless users posted HD DVD decryption codes on the website (Barlow, 2008). Digg’s front page was engulfed in stories that said nothing more than the decryption code. Kevin Rose (2007) later stated on his blog:

“We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code," he wrote. "But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you've made it clear. You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying” (par. 1).

Ultimately, it is easy to see that the unfiltered process, which makes Digg strong, also makes it weak. By not abiding by the laws that bound the physical world it puts Digg at risk, but also brings question as to if laws can be broken online, then why not in the physical world as well by society. But alas Digg still stands today, and no one individual has yet to hear anything from authorities. So it appears that the riots worked in their favor. It might not be the last time Digg hears from the digital Boston Tea Party (Greenburg, 2007).

Overall Digg is nothing more than a young company trying to find its footing in the ever expanding Web 2.0 world. The Internet bubble has burst. If another bubble were to burst users would be reading about it on Digg. This website is not going anywhere, anytime soon. The general public only need an introduction with Digg. Once users see what Digg has to offer they will ask themselves how they lived with this void in them. After all most users have seen Digg icons on major media websites, like BBC News and Yahoo. Sadly most individuals just never knew what it was. Perhaps the time has come to stop viewing news in the traditional sense and participating in the Digg? Welcome to the new era of information that is


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Graham, Jefferson. (2007, October 24). Filling a void breeds fast success. USA Today, pp. Money, 03b.

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Graham-Cumming, J. (2008, January 29). How many users does Digg have? . Retrieved from

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Arrington, Michael. (2008, July 26). Google Walks Away From Digg Deal. The Washington Post, pp. 252, b11.

Greenberg, Andy. (2007, March 2). Digg's Dilema. Retrieved November 22, 2008 from:

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Digg is a site that presents the full about how the website works (

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