The end of Digg
For those of us who lived pre-Internet, one thing we universally experienced is the increase in information flow in our heads: from the trickle of 24-hour TV news (which felt like quite a lot at the time) to the roaring river of today's live Twitter feed, Flipboard updates, Yahoo data aggregation, and scrabble Words with Friends via Facebook. Swimming in an ocean of information, the things we were going to notice were quite simply the things that floated to the top. Sure, there was the occasional Deep Google Dive. But as we started realizing that even Google had charted a fraction of the water, the question became: what is influencing what we see on the surface? It's a crucial question, because in this case, what we See becomes All That Is, regardless of the invisible depths below our feet.
All this metaphor only to say this: goodbye Digg!
Digg was first experience that gave me a window into what was Next. Often called the first "social news reader"—Digg accepted millions of nominations for news articles or cat videos, and the submitted them to voting public. You were permitted to Thumbs Up ("Digg") or Thumbs Down (bury) any item you chose. The more Diggs an article got, the more visible it became, enabling increasingly more people to make a choice. Lots of Diggs in a short period of time floated it to the Top: the front page of the Digg site.
It became clear that this was the wave of the future. Not keyword searching, but humans choosing in groups what was more or less important together.
It was unique to this age. Because it required an algorithm and tallying a massive number of votes, it couldn't have happened without the digital processing. But because it required human opinion, it couldn't have happened without real people.
In any case, this is how we'd determined what came to the surface of the Ocean. We Dugg it.
Of course, Digg as a company didn't make it. And it I didn't think it would. Facebook was the energetic youth at the time, and he was poised to become the change agent that would take this a step further: to naturally mapped groups of friends. Now what we see is not from the floating votes of everyone, but the votes of who are already in our social network. It more closely models how things really work. (In 2008-09 I started to think about how this worked with the Church)
There are many more questions about what's next. But for now, hats off to Digg, who helped set our course in the world we now swim in.