On Saturday I wrote a post asking for private email from people who are working on Digg clones. I got about a dozen responses, they all look good. I think any of them could work for the project I have in mind.
This left me with a vexing problem — which one should I work with, and what should I tell the others? I decided to work with all of them, and anyone else who may be reading, by describing the project here, openly.
So here’s the idea…
Imagine Digg in the old days, when there were just 25 people using it. Maybe that wasn’t enough. Maybe it didn’t really get interesting until there were 100 users or 250 or 1000. It was good, the articles were gems, things we weren’t finding on our own, there were huge numbers of them, but they were prioritized, and the community had a heart of gold, people were doing it for love. The maturity level was high.
But then something happened as Digg grew from 100 users to 100,000 and more. I’m not going to characterize it other than to say that it stopped being interesting to me as it grew. The stories weren’t what I was looking for.
I wonder if we could start a Digg-like community with the readers of Scripting News. The numbers are small, relative to Digg, it would be just like the old days, maybe 250 active participants. I was describing the idea to Fred Wilson this morning, and offered that his blog might host such a community. Or we could do a Digg-like community with 25 people by invitation, some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t. All would be voracious news junkies. They would be empowered to add articles, comment on them, vote them up or down. I would invite Scoble, Fred Wilson, Steve Rubel, Amyloo, Jim Posner, Lawrence Lee and (I’m sure I’ll think of many more). We’d count on the judgement of these people to find us interesting news items, and be fair in deciding their relevance.
Key point — it would serve as an editorial system. Only members could participate in the social functions, but anyone could read the results. You could see what the community decided was important at any moment in time. You might choose to read the TechCrunch Digg clone, but not Scobleizer’s or Instapundit’s.
Two very smart people are thinking this way too.
1. Steve Gillmor, the genius who brought us attention and gestures, has exactly this kind of system running right now, in private beta. I first stumbled across it when I described the idea to a friend back in October, and was told “You have to talk with Steve!” So I called him, and sure enough he had it. He plans on unveiling it publicly very soon, perhaps even this week. 🙂
2. Om Malik and I talked about this on Saturday when he came to visit in Berkeley. I am pretty sure this is part of the editorial system he’d like to use at GigaOm. One thing we both agreed on, strongly, is that it’s time to shake up the market for open editorial tools. It’s been stagnating. Enough of that!
So that’s the idea. I want starting a Digg-like community to be as easy as creating a weblog on blogger.com. Just fill in a form, click Submit and off we go. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Sure most will be ghost towns, there will be press articles talking about the abandoned communities, but I bet we look back in a couple of years and see the landscape in the blogosphere has changed yet again.