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Digg

Digg, Content Publishing, Content Consumption and Kate Middleton's Wedding Gown

Much has already been written about Digg - and two of the best pieces currently sit atop Techmeme. MG's "Requiem for a Digg" and Om's "In Memoriam: Even in losing, how Digg won." I encourage you to read both as Digg has been important - dare I say instrumental? - in how we think about aspects of tech, news, news feeds, gamification, community, algorithmic aggregation, etc. Digg can - and hopefully will - remain important. As MG wrote, "it’s hard to imagine a better steward than Betaworks to try to make that happen."

I wanted to also touch upon two themes related to Digg:

Most importantly, Digg is a fascinating paradox between aggregation and personalization. I have had blog posts hit the front page of Digg and received 75,000+ unique visits within the sixty-minutes (if my memory serves me correctly). That's a staggering amount of traffic and really, for non-major media sources, not available anywhere else. That amount of traffic and immediacy could only really occur from an aggregated, one-for-all feed (by the way, Digg's impact on the 'newsfeed' as we know it is very under appreciated). That one-for-all feed made:

- Digg such a valuable source of traffic - gave power users such power and authority - and made Digg's homepage a newspaper / Techmeme-like hub

The paradox of course is that consumers want personalization (Facebook's feed and the focus on Edgerank are an example of personalization effectively working) - but this weakens the power of the publishers and therefor the traffic generation to the top destinations. Tough to balance.

Secondly, there is a fascinating article on Slate about the imbalance of Wikipedia's power-users and what it means for content (creation, publishing, traffic): "How Kate Middleton's Wedding Gown Demonstrates Wikipedia's Woman Problem." I encourage you to also read that as it has timely parallels to Digg and its community.

Both themes are of course related: there is a difference between publishing and consuming. For those complaining that Kate Middleton's gown is not worthy of a Wikipedia entry, they don't have to read (or append) the entry. Some of that is personal choice and some of that can be affected by personalization.

Twitter Launches Tweet Button; Publishers to Allocate Pixel Real Estate

Twitter has officially launched their Tweet Button - a natural move which will place them beside Facebook's like buttons... and across millions of pages on the web (soon to be on this blog!). The question is what happens to everything else? There is only so much space on each page and ultimately publishers will only devote real estate to those buttons that deliver the most traffic / engagement. Twitter and Facebook will clearly qualify - but who else? My favorite example is this post from Mashable which leaked the Tweet Button a couple days ago. The Tweet Button screenshot sits below the Facebook Like graph and beside Tweetmeme, Digg, and Facebook Share. Of course there are others: For instance, I use Apture and Disqus. And more will come - like Facebook's long rumored social bar.

Email notifications & engagement from SlideShare and Digg

Last week I wrote about email as a vehicle to drive user engagement. Here is another good example from SlideShare. Earlier this week I posted a presentation on paid search best practices from a recent Dogpatch Labs event. That day the presentation made the front page of slideshare.com... And they immediately delivered an email notifying me of the popularity. Its not a new concept (Digg for instance is great at this) but its an example of powerfully conveying accomplishment and driving engagement via email. And in this case (and in Digg's) their content rotates so frequently that is quite compelling:

Bitly + Twitter Has Driven 350,000 views to Youtube's JK Wedding

In less than a week, Youtube's hit video "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" has been viewed over seven million times (and nearly 1.5m times in the last 24 hours). So what does that look like on the real-time web? And how much traffic have Bit.ly and Twitter sent?

One of the reasons I love Bit.ly is because of its transparency and ability to deliver meaningful analytics. For a given URL, you can see a page's real time traffic, referrals and geographic usage (all of which originated with a Bitly URL).

350,000 of the JK Wedding's 7m views arrived from Bitly alone. That is 5% of the video's views.

jk-wedding-youtube Even as the video's virality slows down, that is still 25-50 clicks per minute:

jk-wedding-clicks-per-minute

And Twitter.com represented over half of the traffic. Facebook was only 20,000 visits (but the video of course can be embedded directly into Facebook - Bitly's normal use case on Facebook is through the Twitter app integration):

jk-wedding-referrals

Proof enough that this video was a viral hit: it collected 5,000+ Diggs and over 800 retweets on Tweetmeme... and that is from a Youtube embed off Youtube.com (outspokenmedia.com).

jk-wedding-digg

Tweetmeme's Meteoric Rise Reveals Twitter's Search Issue

Techmeme has become one my primary navigational sources for daily reading / news (others include email, Google RSS, Facebook, NYTimes, TechCrunch, etc). Twitter isn't yet there because it is simply too noisy to be efficient.

Techmeme solves a specific need: revealing quality, trending content across a variety of blogs and news sources. That same need exists on Twitter... and it can be argued it is both a harder AND more important task (after all, there is more noise and less context).

Perhaps that is why Tweetmeme is surging: it solves an important need for an immensely popular service. And as Twitter grows, Tweetmeme becomes even more important, sources more content and services a larger community. According to Compete, Tweetmeme now reaches 3.6m monthly uniques - a hefty number by any measurement. Equally impressive though is that Tweetmeme's reach represents nearly 20% of Twitter's monthly uniques (19.7m). Furthermore, as Twitter's growth flattened from April to May, Tweetmeme's more than doubled (1.6m to 3.6m):

tweetmeme traffic

Is this to say that Tweetmeme is the perfect service? No.

It is important however because it demonstrates: - a glaring need / opportunity within Twitter (either for third parties or Twitter itself) - the difficulty that finding poses (both algorithmic search and social search)... particularly in Twitter's dynamic world of 140 characters - a clear demand from users (after all, Tweetmeme's monthly uniques are 20% of Twitter's!) - a threat for sites like Digg and Stumbleupon... which Tweetmeme (or Twitter itself) can effectively compete with - an opportunity for Bit.ly - which is sitting on a goldmine of data surrounding referrals and links

tweetmeme-twitter

Introducing TechNews (http://news.ryanspoon.com)

Introducing http://news.ryanspoon.com - I encourage you to test it out! About a year ago, I weened myself off of Digg (at least partially) and moved onto Hacker News. Hacker News is the best mix of technology content - from headlines to analysis to discussion.

After sifting through various services, I found SlinkSet (also a YCombinator company). Uninterested in creating a Hacker News clone or competitor, I was intrigued by the ability to 'remix' my own favorite feeds along with articles submitted by friends and readers:

Tech News SlinkSet

It is an interesting way, if you will, to create your own 'distributed feed' (ala Facebook or Friendfeed - but without the direct network). Using SlinkSet's private mode, it is also a way to communicate with a distribution list.

SlinkSet is simple and a free service. My only critique is that it is based on iframes and consequently is not as flexible as you would like (in addition to being an SEO killer). It would be powerful to either

1. open the code (like Pligg or Wordpress) and allow users to develop against it, and/or 2. create a subscription version that allows further customization

Also worth noting, SlinkSet's custom service is terrific. They have converted an installation of SlinkSet into a feedback 'wall' and the founders interact ther directly with the users. Really a terrific example of what SlinkSet can be used for and how to interact with your userbase.

Comparing Yahoo Buzz and Digg After Hitting Buzz's Homepage

In March, I wrote that Yahoo Buzz could pose a threat to Digg because of their ability to drive more traffic - and I assumed that Digg's product would be markedly better.

Now four days after Yahoo Buzz officially opened up to all publishers, I will take a bolder stance: I'm finding Yahoo Buzz more effective as a reader / consumer and as a publisher. And I'm surprised.

My major critique of Digg has been that it has struggled to extend it's community and product outside of technology. And that's where Yahoo Buzz excels: the content is diverse... across categories and sources. I expect this will continue as Yahoo's community (the largest on the web) will power / demand diversity.

InGameNow's Blog made it to the Yahoo Buzz homepage yesterday and it delivered big, steady traffic. Whereas Digg sends massive traffic instantly (and it tends to somewhat worthless traffic) - Yahoo's sends very consistent traffic that, from this single experience, seems to be more active and engaged. Two things are yet to be seen though:

1) how Yahoo's algorithm matures and whether it creates a community of power users (such as those that rule Digg) 2) whether Buzz's current traffic / activity will change dramatically as it gains popularity

For now though... and based on my first few days with Yahoo Buzz... I'd rather hit Buzz's homepage than Digg's.

The official email from Yahoo Buzz on August 19th:

START SUBMITTING STORIES TO YAHOO! BUZZ TODAY!

Thank you for your patience as we fine-tuned Yahoo! Buzz. You can now showcase your stories to the largest audience on the Internet.

Visit our Publisher page to pick up a button for your site and see tips on ways to get more votes.

Do not forget, your story may be featured on Yahoo.com. Good luck and welcome aboard.

GET STARTED NOW http://buzz.yahoo.com/publishers

Yahoo! Buzz Team

Why iGoogle is About to Be Game Changing - For Google and for Us

A couple months ago, I had the following email exchange with one of the sharpest, big internet-thinkers I know. I thought very little of the discussion until the past few days. Speaking about iGoogle:

...My wife didn't have an account, but could play with it and then had to set up account to personalize and save. She also set up a series of custom "vertical" searches now much more easily.

I frankly -- mostly due to my schedule -- had not played with their gadgets in some weeks. I reset up my entire information world in about 12 minutes...

Me: Is 12 minutes short or long? I created one but don't go back to it... Still just navigate in and out to each destination.

For us, very short -- because it is amazingly comprehensive. iGoogle may become our homepage now.

That's a powerful notion: recomposing your entire 'information world' in a matter of minutes. At the time though, I passed over the comment because iGoogle wasn't (yet) overly differentiated (Netvibes, Pageflakes, etc); nor was it more than a one-dimensional delivery of content (or as he puts it, "information"). I've seriously rethought that premise as Google is quickly turning iGoogle into a multi-dimensional hub that might very well become the base of your distributed web... and personalization / distribution are the key tenants of web 2.0.

So how does iGoogle get there?

- First, leverage Google. It's already happening. Google is already a one of the top two start pages and has begun making iGoogle a default page. Add that (which is the most valuable asset anyone can ask for) with an unlimited marketing budget, and iGoogle will have no issues with traffic (previously an issue with Froogle, Gmail, Base, etc). iGoogle ads are appearing in *heavy* rotation throughout AdWords campaigns and AdSense units. They are everywhere.

- Integrate Google Reader I think the web is still in need of the killer RSS app. Think about BlogRovr, SocialMedian, FriendFeed and Digg - to different extents, they are about finding relevant and interesting content based on relationships, browsing history, popularity and so on. iGoogle, which got it's start with RSS-feed based containers, is an ideal platform to push out a killer social RSS app (alongside other Google properties like Reader, Feedburner, Google Accounts, etc).

- Integrate Friend Connect and Open Social... Tightly. Two of Google's other current focuses are about enabling social interaction and graphing across other platforms. But Google can also power Friend Connect and Open Social through their own platform: iGoogle; and just as FriendFeed is able to leverage (and lure users from) Twitter, iGoogle will be able to do the same with platforms like FriendFeed. Once iGoogle becomes social, it shifts from pushing content one-dimensionally into an intelligent, fully social and multi-dimensional platform.

- Open it Up. Make it Consumer Facing. One of the values of a robust iGoogle is the sorts of data and interactions that will be collected... and should be reflected. One of the current failing of Google Trends and Google Hot Trends (and for that matter, Google News and Google Analytics) is that they aren't transparent - either on a network or social graph level. iGoogle can become Digg for networks, verticals and any form of content. Hacker News is a terrific example: it gets a small fraction of Digg's traffic, but the tight community makes the sharing of content immensely valuable. That can and should exist for any size network or type of content.

Based on their advertising alone, it's evident that iGoogle is a focus for Google (and I have to imagine internally the strategy is deeply connected to their other social focuses). It's an important strategy for Google because, if they can amass a powerful enough user base, iGoogle represents a platform to launch new products (a struggle in the past for non-search related products) and opens up a new revenue platform (ads will be live soon enough and Gadget Ads will follow soon after).