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Kevin Rose started out with a mere $200 funding. Within 18 months, his internet application Digg has become one of the most visited technology media sites and made it into the top 1,000 sites on the net. As a result, estimation of Digg’s current market value go high, reaching $300 milllion and more.

The reason for Digg’s amazing success seems to be obvious: Digg provides a platform for users to vote on articles, these votes then serve as a guideline for other users to identify the needles (good articles) in the haystack, therefore helping to deal with information overload in a better way.

As Techcrunch points out, this is not only Digg’s secret: many successful Web 2.0 services aim to make it easier for people to deal with the mountain of information they are facing every day. And due to the scope of the information overload problem (in my opinion one of the biggest of all, check out The real costs of information overload and IO: The Silent Burden) the value of those services is directly correlated with it – making the ones that really help to deal with information overload highly successful very quickly.

However, in order to understand Digg’s success in detail (and also where its limits are) it is required to digg deeper…

Starting with Diggs value proposition “making it easier to find good articles”: what does “good” actually mean in this context? What are the different factors that make an article “good” and how does Digg help to find those articles?

In the following chart I’ve put down the main factors that I consider to make an article worth reading:


Although the importance of those factors is subjective**, the categories themselves are likely to apply to all readers (did I forget anything?).

The question is: Does Digg help to find the articles that score high in these dimensions? The answer is a mixed one. Digg does well in criteria 3 and 4 because it is relatively easy to get consensus among a crowd whether an article fulfills these. For example, most people would give the same answer when asked whether a certain article is well and humorously written.

However, the Digg algorithm struggles to retrieve articles that are relevant to the user (criteria 1 and 2) as relevancy is highly subjective. For some users the newest article on “The Best 10 SEO Tips” was exactly what they were looking for at that moment – for others it is just irrelevant. And by having to filter the articles to find those that are relevant, Digg falls short of delivering only the articles that the user is interested in.

An attempt to fill the gap will be NextFeeds.com, a free to-be-launched web application that will try out some new ideas to deliver only the relevant information to users (you can preregister to get informed upon launch). More about NextFeeds’ ideas in the following posts.

* For instance, check out Victory for the Topless Front ;-)
** Also, this evaluation is not only different from person to person but my own motivation to read articles changes during the day as well: at work I need to focus on finding relevant information that I can use either immediately or later (categories 1 and 2), while after work it is also considerably important that I get a direct joy from reading articles (categories 3 and 4).

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