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April 26, 2007

Digg, The Echo Chamber Of Trolls And Unimportant Conversation

Lately, a lot of people are writing about the idea that Digg is just an Echo Chamber. A good example of this Matthew Ingram's take on it. He links to a piece in the New York Times Magazine that explains the Matthew effect on social networks and links it to Digg.

Simply put, the theory is that if someone is popular — for whatever reason, be it real talent or just blind luck — he or she is likely to become even more popular, since people tend to gravitate towards things that are already perceived as being popular.

While there is no question that this is what is happening at Digg, there is another elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.

Digg has turned into a community that is being ruled by teenagers and trolls that have the time to spend all day on it and only Digg stories that interest them. They are deciding what is popular on Digg but while what they're Digging is "cool," it's rarely of real importance.

The problem here is a lot of people seem to be using Digg as their only source of news. Think about how scary that is for a moment.

While, teens should have the freedom to express themselves and what they think is important, it's necessary for everyone using Digg to understand who is now deciding what's important.

The "citizen media," or a media without editors, sounds like a laudable concept, but at least in Digg's case, it doesn't seem to be working.

Articles on about gaming and silly pranks often make the front page while, articles about politics or other important social issues are marked as lame and are buried.

Lets take a look at the "Top 10 in All Topics" on Digg as of this moment:
(Emphasis added.)

  • 2814 These Female Gamers Will Make Your Heart Stop.
  • 2105 The only person that has ever been struck by a particle accelerator's beam
  • 1521 StarCraft 2 to be announced on the 19th of May 2007
  • 1328 Marijuana Shrinks Tumors, Government Knew In 1974
  • 1322 A Hyperdrive Engine that travels through other dimensions!
  • 1128 I'm Nathan Petrelli and I'm Running For Congress
  • 1025 Adobe Flex Goes Open Source
  • 1020 BREAKING: Condy Rice will have her day in court
  • 970 Virginia Tech - People Who Blame Pop Culture Are Morons
  • 806 HDTV reception and network streaming in a sub-$200 Linux box

Five of them (bolded) should be thrown right out. Of the five left, only the Condy Rice story has national importance today. The particle accelerator's beam, hyper-drive engine and marijuana stories would make a good blurb, but are they really deserving of being in the top 10 news stories today?

In the "real" news at this moment, these stories should be in the top 10 but aren't:

It's sad to say that Diggers are more impressed by female gamers, games, what Kevin Rose and Leo Laporte are doing, too busy falling for Jack Thompson's latest publicity stunt, and what's happening in the TV show, Heros, to notice the real world is happening around them.

Posted in Digg , Today's Headlines by usrbingeek at 2007-04-26 16:17 ET (GMT-5) | 0 Comments | Permalink


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