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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.

Google's Evolving Search Results Pages: PGA, Tiger Woods & US Open as Example

In honor of this week's US Open - and in connection with last week's post on Google's evolving search pages - here are some interesting screen shots related to both.

The first is a results page for the query "PGA". As yo will see, there are only two search results on my visible screen: and (brand URLs). The bulk are algorithmic results (which are very useful): 2012 FedExCup standings and the three most relevant (ie popular) stars (Tiger Woods, Rory McIllroy, Phil Mickelson). Two things worth noting: 1. there are no ad units 2. there is no Google+ integration here. And this is one area that Google+ makes a lot of sense. I should be able to follow each player, learn more, etc. Today, it is entirely informational.

Change the query to one of the player names (in this case "Tiger Woods") and it looks similar: standings, information, news, and the brand link. In fact, only one natural result is above the fold:

Again, two notes: 1. still no Google+ integration. 2. still no ads (high volume query too!) 3. related people include non-golfers: Elin Nordegren and Rachel Uchitel (both interesting and ironic)

Dig in on the right column's bio page and there is a "please report a problem" unit. This is Google's Wikipedia-like effort to control content. For several reasons, it is a very interesting approach: 1. this is such a dramatic change to search results and this unit comes at the expense of ad real estate 2. to fill it with content Google does not entirely trust is bold / scary 3. this information is far more compelling if tied to Google+ - in this setting it looks like no different than a mini-Wikipedia (or Knoll!)

Mahalo Opens Up; Recognizes the Power of Transparency

In what Jason Calacanis bills as "Wikipedia 3.0", Mahalo has just taken a very major step forward by opening their platform to all registered users. Until now, Mahalo has crafted each of their 50,000 pages by hand (hence the tagline "human powered search"). But by enabling users to directly contribute, create and edit pages - Mahalo is becoming a "human powered portal" or "directory".

What's particularly important about Mahalo's move is their focus on transparency. I am a firm believer that websites and communities work only as well as the users' incentives are aligned. Digg is a terrific example: publishers are incented to submit content; diggers are incented to vote, befriend and share; and everyone is incented to digg as much (and as fairly) as possible.

Jason recognizes that fully opening Mahalo can be noisy or even turbulent ("it's not going to be as freewheeling as Wikipedia day one"). So they have two solutions.

The first isn't scalable over the long term, but important for helping define community interactions and demonstrate proper behaviors: "[Mahalo's] staff is going to check every edit made and confirm it is correct. We have three full-time folks on this right now and our expectation is we will only get 10-50 editors per day."

The second solution is to make activity fully transparent and consequently establish self-imposed community guidelines and incentives. Mahalo has made their User Activity Dashboard public. It's the same dashboard that their staff follows internally. By publishing this content and making the community's behavior fully transparent - there is an incentive to behave properly and frequently (attention and reputation!) and there is a consequence for misbehaving (your actions are public and tied to an account).

Most importantly, it establishes accountability. Users are accountable for their actions. Vertical specialists are accountable for the changes in their verticals. Readers become accountable for validating the quality (or lack thereof) of an article. And Mahalo staffers become accountable for either enabling or disabling content, users and topics.

Available data in the Dashboard: - Recommended Links - Declined Recommended Links - Note Edits - Message Board Posts