Jump back in time eight years and one of the biggest sites in existence was Digg. It was a new approach to news sharing which revolutionized the way in which many people used the internet. After gradually sinking into relative obscurity, Digg is back and it’s better than ever.
Despite the fact that this is a relaunch following the recent acquisition by Betaworks, the site is still known as Digg v1. There is a completely new look to the site which has gone for a far more visual approach to things but there’s a lot more to explore.
Digg – A History
It is unlikely that Digg needs a great deal of introduction, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that there are people how have not heard of the site, or are only vaguely aware of its existence.
The idea behind the site is to make the interesting bits of the web available to a wider audience – you know there are countless great sites out there and a virtually limitless supply of interesting news stories and articles, but it can be difficult to track them down. Digg acts like your cool best friend, the one who’s always able to point you in the direction of the funniest online comics, the best news sites, and article after article that you love.
The site works thanks to the community that it has built up over the years. Users are free to submit links to sites and stories they have found, and other Digg users are then able to ‘digg’ them. A complex algorithm is used to add article to the Top Stories Section and there’s also the Popular section that shows you the stories that have been shared most in the last 18 hours.
New Look And Feel
The moment you re-visit Digg, you can tell that things have changed dramatically – and this is not just because of the new look. The neat, columnar layout is clean and easy to read, and there is far greater emphasis given to images than was ever the case in previous incarnations. While the starker look of Digg from years gone by has gone – and this is a look that gave the site more of a sense of gravitas – the magazine style of the re-imagined site has a lot in its favour.
Aside from drastically altered appearance, there has been a change in the approach that Digg takes. It is no longer a service in its own right: you do not have a Digg account any more – something that will undoubtedly annoy long-term users – and instead you can sign into the site using your Twitter or Facebook credentials.
There is a strong focus on the fact that that is the all-new Digg, and it is disappointing to find that none of the data from the old version of the site has been moved across. In many respects, it is as though the Digg of recent years simply never existed. The commenting system for which Digg was so famous is no more and there are very few options available to you. The reliance on Facebook and Twitter should give you an indication of the direction that Digg has travelled. It is now a site that piggybacks on social networks rather than being self-sufficient.
It is still possible to ‘digg’ a story that is featured on the site and every story that is featured on the site has a running tally beneath it. Using Facebook or Twitter to log into Digg, it should come as no surprise that you are encouraged into sharing the stories you like on these social networks. This is one of the problems with the new Digg. The commenting system is really what made the site and it brought about a great sense of community. Now you have three options available to you – just ‘digg’ a story, share it on Facebook, or share it on Twitter.
The first option gives no scope for interaction with other users or commenting on a story, while the social network sharing options mean that any discussions and comments are restricted to your group of friends and followers. This is not what Digg is meant to be about. On the plus side, however, the site is unbesmirched by advertisements.
iPhone users are able to take advantage of a mobile app. When you’re browsing the main site, there’s the option to ‘Save to iPhone’ in an Instapaper / Pocket type way. There’s currently no news on an Android or a Windows Phone version of the app but these are almost certain to be in the pipeline.
Considering this is a massive site that rightly expects, and will undoubtedly receive, huge traffic, a complete re-write from scratch was a brave undertaking. The fact that this was completed in just six weeks is doubly impressive, although it would have made sense to spend a little longer getting the site’s infrastructure properly set up. As things stand, Digg is not quite the site you may have come to know and love previously, but it’s shaping up well.
There are limitations to the site and at it stands at the moment, there is more to appeal to newcomers to the idea of Digg than those who have been familiar with it for years. The original Digg brand has been somewhat lost in the update, but this is not necessarily a bad thing; it could be argued that it had started to turned stale. This is definitely one to watch but the new Digg has a long way to go before it reaches the dizzying heights of its forebear.