How Digg Didn't Deliver: Web Propagation
Danny is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Ye Olde Connected Investors:
Our dear web has seen far more disruption than any literal arachnid's home. You may have heard of the most recent morsel: Digg (Private), having once stepped into the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) parlor with a $200M offer, has been sold to Betaworks (Private) for $500K.
While your friends are scurrying with cries of the next bubble burst -- again -- or worrying that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Twitter (Private) spell demise for similar outlets, let's survey the landscape. Does Digg signal dying throes for content aggregates or is it a lesson about propagation?
Digg Then & Now: Historical Contingencies
Ah, the old days when Digg would crash the websites they linked. That web admins' fear might seem more memorable than any actual growth from Digg itself -- which puts us on par with observations from almost half a decade ago. Let's fight our inner politician and ask: should we really condemn similar outlets for this lack of change since 2008?
Hype began in 2006 and wasn't exactly uninformed. In the social networks space, Facebook was offering its services to anyone 13 or older with a valid email address. Slashdot, owned by Geeknet Inc. (NASDAQ: GKNT), informed our fellow tech nerds with an almost identical service -- since 1997, just as it does today.
More & Many Online: The Source Doesn't Matter
Digg could be said to function on a many-to-one model. Many users contributed a link to one space where it was listed. Many users would vote on the link, it would be ranked according to that feedback and then be reordered at that single place for public perusal.
Reddit from Advance Publications (Private), Twitter , Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest from Cold Brew Labs (Private) tweak the formula by having a many-to-many relationship. The users do the work for them: they interact with people they know or relate to, naturally forming a relationship based on some common factor. These users then contribute links which are available for perusal by the public or by other users with which the propagator has a relationship.
Who says no one will work for free?
Also in the arena are those who employ a collective-one-to-one relationship. Users of Jezebel, owned by Gawker Media (Private), consume content at the single site in the interest of "Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women." Their Kotaku site, however, has its success built on the gamers of the world. AOL, Inc. (NYSE: AOL) provides Engadget, a news site for the electronics and gadgets aficionado.
Seeing a pattern yet? Hint: every single collective-one-to-one service has a link to submit tips.
Community Propagates Content
You hold the key distinction yourself, my fellow Fool, if you enjoy reading this perspective as much as I appreciate your doing so. Unlike how The Motley Fool runs its Fool website for fools, Digg only focused on what may now seem a misnomer.
"Content aggregation" leaves out propagation. The musicians that drive content on sheet music subreddits, the collective women of Jezebel providing tips about glass ceilings, and the social appearances of friendship in Facebook keep these services from getting caught in the snares of what would otherwise be a much more dead web.
Indeed, those are quite a few companies that haven't gone public. Quite the coincidence, no? Perhaps the next success is to be found as an activist with too much money and a friend's startup rather than a savvy lookout with an eye on that "million-dollar" corporation.
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