The Fountain of Digg

Using the internet can be like drinking from a fire hose. The
amount of information available to humans has far surpassed our
ability to process it, making the practice of filtering essential
to sanity and success. Since people with a strong interest in
computers and technology (a.k.a. ‘nerds’) are early adopters of new
tools, sites that collect and cull technology-oriented news are on
the cutting edge of filtering technology.
Slashdot has been the
most successful of these sites for a number of years, using a
hybrid model of user participation and centralized editorial
control that has made it one of the most visited sites on the
internet. While Slashdot remains the gold standard for
many die-hard technologists, growing dissatisfaction with the
site’s editors and a desire to further harness the internet’s
decentralized, democratic nature have led to the emergence of
Slashdot‘s usurper,

Digg‘s non-hierarchical model of collaborative
information collection, filtering, and processing is starkly
different from the traditional, centralized editorial model. After
setting up a free account with the site, a user can submit a story
(typically a link to another site accompanied by a short
description) to a shared pool where it is scrutinized by other
users. If users like the story, they can ‘Digg’ it with the click
of a button, increasing its prominence in the pool. Users can also
mark the story as lame, inaccurate, or otherwise undesirable
(which, if done en masse, removes the story from the pool), comment
on the story, moderate the comments of other users, and even blog
the story on their user pages. If a story gets enough Diggs, it is
displayed on the front page and syndicated via RSS (a kind of
personalized news feed). Stories are categorized, so users can
choose to focus on reading and filtering only those topics that
interest them.

While Digg founder Kevin Rose has expressed a
desire to
expand the site’s focus beyond technology
, a number of
Digg ‘clones’ have already sprung up to help bring
homegrown shape to the internet’s glorious chaos. These clones
range from the general to the specialized, the prurient to the
sublime. Some standouts include:

There are also a number of non-English clones, like the
men?ame, and
location-specific clones, like the Irish news site
kick. While the
traditional editorial model may never be fully displaced by this
wave of digital populism, Digg and its ilk have brightened the
future of participatory media.

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