TAG: Del.icio.us

Digg’s Design Dilemma

This past week’s Digg controversy is one in a growing number of incidents that suggest that a small group of users are having an undue influence on the promotion of stories. In response, Digg is changing the way that it handles votes by adding complexity to its ranking algorithm. I think that’s the wrong approach, so here’s another idea: change the actual design of the site…that’s the real problem.

The most recent controversy happened on September 5th, when someone named jesusphreak posted Digg the Rigged?, an in-depth article exposing some of the curious details of recently-popular stories on digg. Many of the stories, jp pointed out, were dugg by members of the Digg Top 30, or the 30 most popular digg members (popular being measured by number of stories submitted that were promoted to the frontpage). The Top 30 includes Digg founder Kevin Rose.

This was not the first time that someone has pointed out this phenomenon. On April 18 of this year Macgyver at ForeverGeek posted Digg Army, which included screenshots of who dugg two recent articles on the site. Each article had the exact same 16 people digging it in the exact same order. Of the first 19, 18 were the same. Included in that list of people was, again, Kevin Rose. ( for an in-depth history see Tony Hung’s excellent: A Brief History of the Digg Controversy)

These incidents, taken together, are more than coincidence…

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The 5 W’s of Social Software

Social software has been around for a long time. Email, after all, is the canonical example. But it’s been only recently that web designers as a whole have embraced it and really started innovating. We’ve got social news aggregators, social encyclopedias, social bookmarking, social networking, recommendation systems, social tagging…all of these things add up to huge changes in the way we use the Web. Though some folks see it as nothing more than social networking, there are elements of social software being built into most software today.

Who: Social software helps people by modeling their social lives online.

What: Social software is software that supports social activities.

Where: Social software is nearly everywhere.

When: Now.

Why: Social software is important because that’s the way that software is trending.

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The Chanel No. 5 Lesson

Experience precedes branding.

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Why Bad Design Still Exists & Other Thoughts (podcast)

A quick interview I gave recently.

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7 More Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

A second helping of reasons why web apps fail.

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7 Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

A few ideas about why some of the web apps out there fail.

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The Del.icio.us Lesson

Personal value precedes network value.

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On Growing

This is an obvious analogy, but here goes:

In the network, we grow things. We seed them with a DNA of sorts (the framework of how they work) and then we unleash them in the wild. Wind, rain, sun…we get all those things in the form of trolls, criticism, and fans. We need those things…they each help us grow in different ways. Become hardier.

For example, Digg has grown despite the myriad of attempts of mean-spirited people who try to game the system (some are just curious, too). But in combatting those people, Digg is emerging stronger than they were. I for one really like Digg’s Apple feed.

In the network, we don’t build things fully-formed. We don’t plant huge trees and watch them gain another 10% of their final size. We watch them grow a thousand-fold instead. We can’t predict which way the branches will go, but that’s OK. They’re growing up.

So, while the original ideas are important (the seed), the way you care for the tree and shelter it from the elements might be more so. This might explain why some projects which are just as good as others (like the open source clone of Del.icio.us – De.lirio.us) don’t catch on like the original. They were there first, of course, but they also had someone watering it daily.

The Digital Funes the Memorious

Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine writer of the 20th century, wrote of the Uruguayan Funes the Memorious, whose perception and memory became infallible after falling from a horse in the mid 1880s:

We, in a glance, perceive three wine glasses on the table; Funes saw all the shoots, clusters, and grapes of the vine. He remembered the shapes of the clouds in the south at dawn on the 30th of April of 1882, and he could compare them in his recollection with the marbled grain in the design of a leather-bound book which he had seen only once, and with the lines in the spray which an oar raised in the Rio Negro on the eve of the battle of the Quebracho. These recollections were not simple; each visual image was linked to muscular sensations, thermal sensations, etc. He could reconstruct all his dreams, all his fancies. Two or three times he had reconstructed an entire day.

And thus Ireneo Funes lived like no other before or since, remembering all that had happened to him. And remembering that he remembered. This vicious cycle led not to the incalculable awakening of genius that one might expect. Instead, it led to the opposite: a painful sagacity of everything he wished to forget.

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On Delicious Intelligence

James Corbett has a great post on the emergence of intelligence on Del.icio.us:

“…with this in mind I decided to test what intelligence might be evident in the del.icio.us social bookmarking service.”

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