Back in the late 90s, workplace boredom often led to Web surfing. The only thing is, the “discovery” element was pretty tricky, and you pretty much had to rely on word-of-mouth or links from Yahoo!. Well, with the fun of Web 2.0, we have a bunch of new services that let people help each other find new and interesting stuff online. Well, maybe not interesting, but at least new.
The top of these social bookmarking (as the term is called) services are Digg, Delicious (now owned by Yahoo), and Reddit (now owned by Conde Nast/Wired). I’ve recently started using both Digg (here’s my Digg profile) and Delicious (more on that in a few days), and find they really can help cure the “I’m bored and I want to surf for 10 minutes” syndrome. With each of them you can track your friends’ favorites and there are a variety of methods to see what’s new or what’s popular. Only thing is “what’s popular” isn’t necessarily what the term typically implies.
If you want to to know the most popular movies, you can read the box office reports.
Most popular TV shows, Nielsen (which nobody really trusts, but nothing else is out there just yet).
Web sites? Well, now you have a variety of unreliable services.
But for “Links of the day” you have things like the Digg home page. Which is built dynamically based on some mysterious algorithm. In the first era of Digg, the home page was pretty much dictated by the “Top 100” users. The specifics of how to become a Top 100 weren’t exactly clear, but it basically was a self-rewarding process. Once in, it’s nearly impossible to get out, and a new user has about 0 odds of getting in. And the Top 100 were happy.
Then team Digg decided to change their algorithms, to try to make it a bit more “fair and balanced.” Sounds good, right? Well, to everybody not in the Top 100, it’s quite good, as the “What’s Popular” list no longer reflects what they think is interesting, but what the entire Digg community thinks is interesting. Which leaves the Top 100 feeling a little left out.
I do understand their feeling this way, as they spent countless hours contributing to the site. Maybe they should have their own special section, or be an automatic filter of the home page or something. They should get a little kudos and “thank-you” (and not just a T-shirt). But the site has evolved, and its for the better. It ain’t exactly a democracy just yet, but we’ll call it a Diggocracy and move on.
Hopefully they’ll work on fixing the “disappearing cookie” problem now…