No, diversity won’t drown Digg

Vishnu Mahmud of Indonesia has an interested editorial on C|Net on whether Digg’s recent move to multiple topics (rather than just technology) will ruin Digg.

Suppose we have more Europeans or Asians or South Americans, how much would the site be different? Instead of having news about an American sheriff, we could perhaps have complaints about a Glasgow soup merchant (“No soup for you!”) or more corruption stories from Southeast Asia (which judging by my local newspapers is pretty extensive).

Some Internet users cite Digg as a bastion of liberals that can be easily misinformed by slanted news coverage, leading to virtual verbal fisticuffs. What happens if Digg has more conservative users (regardless of nationality), who by the strength of their majority can control the editorial content of the site? They can provide the most diggs to a story. Democracy is democracy.

Technology is a common denominator, Vishnu says, that keeps the site focused and keeps his attention there.

Stating the obvious
Well, first of all, to state the obvious, you can still view the site only in Technology mode. In fact, that’s the default mode. So on that basis along, there should be nothing to worry about. Just like on Slashdot where you can set preferences to not see stories on certain topics or stories by certain authors, Digg will let you merrily stay in the Technology box. News about American sheriffs will whiz by you, happily and joyfully unnoticed.

Secondly, as Digg gets more and more popular, I’d imagine that Kevin Rose and company will simply introduce a localization mode which will work much the same way: enabling you to set preferences on which stories you want to see.

So, for instance, if you want all Technology stories, but only Entertainment, World & Business, and Video stories that originate or relate to Indonesia, you’d be able to do that.

Localization is an imperfect art, of course – witness Google News – but it generally works well enough to keep most people reasonably satisfied.

Even more powerful
Adding localization would make Digg even better. I probably wouldn’t use it, because I visit Digg to keep a finger on the pulse of the internet zeitgeist, and I want to see it all.

But many might, and the result would be the de factor formation of any number of groups of users, each focusing on issues of concern to them.

Better and better
I can’t see the addition of further topics as anything but good news for Digg and good news for those that use Digg.

Any problems that arise through dilution of the archetypal Digg user can be solved with fairly simple techniques that are well understood and currently utilized.

[tags] digg, kevin rose, Vishnu Mahmud, C|Net, localization, zeitgeist, john koetsier [/tags]