So after reading TechCrunch’s latest [lack of] news about Twitter, it hit me: Twitter is the new Digg. Remember Digg? Of course you do. It was such a simple concept. A “power to the people” take on news with user-submitted stories that anyone can share/discover/submit with the most popular stuff getting promoted to the frontpage. Once upon a time, before Twitter, it was the best thing since sliced bread.
Don’t remember how huge it was? Yahoo, Microsoft, and Dell all copied the concept along with hundreds of other sites. TechCrunch wrote about Digg practically more than anything (until Twitter, of course). And let’s not forget about the huge valuation and acquisition rumors. But then what happened?
Nothing, really. Digg still seems to exist and is maintaining some serious traffic. But it has/had so many problems that it [sort of] fixed way too late. Whatever it did/does, it never really seemed/seems to live up to what it was/is at its core (reread first paragraph above).
Now think of Twitter. As mentioned (and admitted to), TechCrunch writes about it more than practically anything. Interestingly enough, though, the latest self-reflective post makes no mention of Digg when comparing Twitter to the great innovations of Google, Facebook, the iPhone, and the App Store.
And why would Digg be mentioned? I don’t know, maybe because back in the day Michael Arrington referred to as “…the future of news, and the most disruptive force to mainstream media since blogs were born.”
Now read it again, only with a slight change: “Twitter is the future of news, and the most disruptive force to mainstream media since blogs were born.” Which version sounds closer to current reality?
The question is, will Twitter continue this way or become like Digg? Well, Digg never had Oprah or Ashton Kutcher, not to mention many others. And Twitter seemed to overcome its own issues of fixing its initial problems a bit faster than Digg ever did. Of course, the next big thing for Twitter is search. But wait, one of Digg’s next big things was search to, which released three years after I first heard about it and two years after I cared.
Here’s hoping Twitter doesn’t follow Digg. For now, though, I feel like I’ve been here before.
*Update* Follow me on Twitter @bobcaswell or on Digg at… oh never mind.
Just for fun, see below for excerpts of MG Siegler’s latest post on Twitter (via TechCrunch) only with Twitter references replaced with Digg. Maybe it’s just me, but I swear this could have been written three years ago about Digg:
“Simply put, we write about Digg so often because right now, it matters. From news organizations to movie stars, from earthquakes to fires, from Facebook to Google — everyone seems to be talking about, to or with Digg. In an era of mass communication, it is the latest medium. And it’s fundamentally changing the ways in which people interact with others using the web. What you may view as a stupidly simple service with no real point, I view as one of the few inspirational products in bleak times.”
“I would argue that Digg works so well precisely because it’s so simple… Digg can pretty much be about whatever you want it to be about.”
“And that activity, fuels growth and feeds the system full of its most important life-blood: Information.”
“And that’s why I think it’s worth writing about so often. It’s not just about Digg, the product, it’s also about Digg, the idea. And Digg, the catalyst of change. Digg has shaken shit up in the industry. And it’s exciting as hell when a company does that, because the subsequent chaos almost always breeds cool new things. And “cool new things” is what technology is and always has been about.”