Digg is a fascinating place

While I love the weekly Diggnation podcast from Digg.com founder Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, I'm still sometimes wary of what Digg portends for the web as a whole.

As a web marketer and fellow geek I know I should theoretically embrace the idea of social media and the whole nebulous Web 2.0 concept. It's a self-powered force that drives tons of traffic and creates new, interesting content. But at the same time, the mob mentality that seems to prevail at Digg (and is indeed, the very driving force behind Digg) is definitely something that can be more than a little unsettling.

To be fair, Digg is hardly unique in this respect. Many other social bookmarking and news sites feature the same behavior to varying degrees. Digg just happens to be the most visible site at the moment where this phenomenon is so vividly on display. I keep thinking at some point the site will reach a critical mass where a broader cross-section of users will create more effective self-policing similar to what we find on other social sites such as Flickr and (to a lesser extent) YouTube. But thus far that doesn't seem to be the case. Perhaps one of the myriad of new Digg clones from services with broader audiences such as Netscape, Yahoo, or (I can't believe I'm saying this) MySpace will be more effective in this regard.

. . . I have a nice long post on this just aching to get out. It would talk about things like:

  • the phenomenon of fanboys.
  • the irony of enabling everyone with the power to create/drive content could also be potentially be seen (or at least exploited by a few) as the system's biggest weakness where unconfirmed rumors and extreme opinion gain traction and credibility while more mundane reality is often ignored.
  • how the impact of this content could even sway supposedly impartial arbitrators such as search engine ranking algorithms given their heavy dependence on linking.
  • how it ties into the underpinnings of our culture in regard to democracy (and the important distinction between it and our actual form or government - a representative republic.)
Perhaps I'll soon sit down, edit this entry and flesh out these abstract ideas into a more coherent post. Even though I sometimes find segments of these developments unsettling it's still an extremely fascinating topic. But at the moment I'm just too tired. In the meantime, there's a myriad of interesting stories already out there on the topic that echo some of these points.

Why the Wisdom of Crowds Fails on Digg
Digg and the Mob Mentality
GroupThink at Digg
The Wisdom of Crowds

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