When Digg was new I spent plenty of time following the latest news ‘dugg’ up by the community. Now I rarely go back. Somewhere along the line Digg became an online Frat house and I am no longer interested in the 10 ten latest shocking things or in hearing about Scientology or in seeing pictures of puppies (Marion pointed out to me that if you do some research and you will find how many pictures of puppies get thousands of Diggs. Top 10 hot chicks, interesting ways to use vulgarities and puppies, what a bizarre community).
However, I like the idea behind Digg. It is the same idea that made Slashdot successful. (I am a Slashdot refugee as well). Get lots of people together and let the share what they think is interesting.
What is interesting and exciting to me as we look at building on open source community solution is the opportunity to let users break out of a community when the larger group moves in a direction that no longer interests a minority. Say community one is built on an open source platform. As the community grows one group tends to become powerful and take over the community. This is fairly typical. Most moderation tools although democratic in intention actually facilitate this coup. The choice of other members is to just deal with it or leave. Except that in this case if the social platform is open, easy to install, easy to use and easy to hack they can form a new group within minutes.
Many of these subgroups will of course fail, but some will succeed. Success will depend mostly on the migration of users from one group to another. The question is how does one spread the word about this new community?
One option would be to connect the parent community to its spawn. If the owner of the original community is smart they would recognize the impending migration and instead of building a wall prevent it they would provide the new home world. Tired of the 5 or 6 categories Digg has? Simple, add a new category on that site and see if anyone follows you. I know that there are loose connections of Digg users that try to Digg each others stories to get them to the top. Instead of creating new algorithms to force these guys into Bury oblivion embrace the community that is forming and give them their own space to communicate and share. Then if something becomes popular within that group that content can be pushed out to the other communities it is connected to – the original parent community or other communities that members have formed relationships with or the other communities that are linked into the member blogs.
The next evolution is to use the social network that forms between diverse users and communities to distribute content. Information flows through the connections between communities but more importantly between the connections that members have established in their individual spaces. Even though the community might have a front page, that wouldn’t be the primary target. Instead the best content would flow directly to individuals for whom the content is relevant. Lower the signal to noise ratio, provide what is relevant and what is important right now and a new network forms that will make us wonder why we ever put up with anything else.