TechCrunch is reporting that Digg is likely to get sold soon – probably to Google and probably for about $200,000,000. Good for Kevin Rose and the VC folks, but I’d like to know from the key Diggers if they’ll feel any loyalty to the new owners or to the project. Also, do they think they are owed more than … zero… on this deal?
Social sites do offer their participants something of value = participation and platform – but are there “losers” in these equations?
How do the high level participants who have put in thousands of hours and made the site what it is feel about these cash outs?
I’m wondering how often distribution of equity during the *liquidity* event properly reflects the building of equity. Entrepreneurial capitalism correctly asssumes you need to highly reward risk to get folks to take business risks and innovate. But as Mike Arrington has noted entrepreneurs have a value system that appears to actually assign a high value the thrills and chills of the experience. Thus to get optimal production and innovation it appears to me we need to pay “deeper” on these big internet deals. In the case of a YouTube, DIGG, or Facebook I’d find a way to reward those down the food chain in some proportion to their contribution to the enterprise. It’s possible that these rewards would be small enough that I’m wrong to think this matters much in the overall equation of optimizing the capitalist experience, but even a modest reward would brand the mega deals as “fairer” than simply a situation where fat cats effectively exploit self-motivated worker bees who have generated the user content and social networking that the market values so highly right now.
Center Networks is reviewing yet another DiggEsque application called, in what has got to be one of the most questionable rebranding efforts of the year: Propeller . Propeller started life as the Netscape ranking site that was very similar to Digg and designed to compete with it. That effort having failed, it appears Propeller is an attempt to rebrand things such that they can take another shot at Digg.
I’m having a lot of trouble understanding “the point” in what seem like similar approaches to the same challenge, which is getting people to *participate* very actively in story selection and commentary. Rather than “we’ll build a site and they’ll come to it” approach I want to see dramatic improvements to portable identities. MyBlogLog is the closest thing to what I think is the clear “right answer” here. Basically, what I want is for every online person to have an identity. I want to see that identity when they visit my websites and I want to see that identity when I am visiting a site they’ve also visited recently (or maybe … visited ever). One interesting extension that might come out of this would be a superior “vote by your feet” ranking system where pages at which many people spent a lot of time would have more authority, and when this was combined with tags and comments by the visitors you’d have a fairly robust system for ranking sites.
During weekends and holidays my favorite news site, TechMeme, gets wilder than usual because I think there are fewer news outlets posting stories and even the big tech blogs dry up on the weekend. Even more wild are holidays, which may explain the odd top story today at TechMeme today about MIXX versus DIGG.
Mike over at TechCrunch is reporting that a lot of Digg users are heading over to the new social story tagging site called Mixx. He notes that Digg users have become increasingly frustrated with the Digg communities and mini-scandals. A quick Alexa take on Mixx did not really seem to support the idea that MIXX poses much threat right now to DIGG, though since MIXX is still in beta it’s possible MIXX is going to be a contender when it’s known to more people. Mixx appears to have 150k-250k daily visits (per my rough Alexa extrapolation from approx 35k Alexa rank). Given the up and down traffic pattern at MIXX though it’s not clear it’s “taking off”, rather than it’s setting in as one of the many DIGG “also rans” that have little chance of even catching the big DIGG.
Update: I think Nick (and I) may owe Newsvine an apology, because Newsvine does not really practice sharecropping. The members own their own content and this means a lot more control than otherwise. Obviously the landscape is complex with any social media but I don’t think I can object to Newsvine’s model. My concern is where the site takes ownership of the member content.
Nick Carr has a good post today noting how the Newsvine aquisition, and other deals like this, can lead to some information “sharecropper” dissent. As I pointed out yesterday social media is a great thing, but it seems to be dramatically failing to fund the very forces that make it a great thing – the hardest working content providers that often form the backbone of these entities. Kevin Rose is worth tens of millions because tens of millions of diggers work for him – for free. Sure, he’s smarter than most of his minions and he pulled it all together which means he should get a big digg payday some day, but should he, the founders, and the VC funders get *all* of the money when even they’d all agree that digg is valuable primarily because of all the people that do the digging.
Newsvine was a superb project that was beautifully implemented, but like Nick I wonder how long those who helped make Newsvine such a great site will keep working for nothing. Is Web 2.0 simply a new twist on feudal economics?