Why is everyone so down on Digg?

For whatever reason, there seems to be a segment of the blogosphere that sees “social bookmarking” sites like Digg.com and Reddit.com as the Internet’s equivalent of the trailer park – or maybe the local video-game parlour, if they still have those (Galaga rules!). In other words, it’s full of people who look like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys, or “pimply teenagers,” as one person put it recently (okay, it was Umair Haque of Bubblegeneration). You get the picture: Digg is filled with drivel, which is posted and then “dugg” by mouth-breathers with low foreheads and a short attention span.

Is that true? Who knows. I haven’t seen a breakdown of the socio-economic stratification of Digg.com users, and I’m betting Umair hasn’t either. He and my pal Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 – who also did a drive-by on Digg and Reddit in his recent post about how some audiences are better than others – both make assumptions based on the kinds of links that fly by on the Digg home page or Digg/spy, which they conclude are filled with useless crap. And I’ll admit there’s a lot of crap in there. But then, there’s a lot of crap on the Internet period. For that matter, there’s a lot of crap on TV too, and in newspapers (although not the one that I work for, of course).

Umair says that Digg.com is useless to him and to “most of the rest of the universe,” and that he doesn’t care whether there’s a video of “an 87-year-old guy having a sex change.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that it was through Digg that I came across a fantastic video clip from a local TV station about an autistic kid who got his big chance to play in a high-school basketball game. Did it change my life? No, but it was pretty incredible just the same. And if some pimply teenager posted it to Digg, then I’m glad he did.

I get the fact that Scott and Umair are all about the need for filters and whatnot, and how we need smarter tools to get through the crap. But I don’t see why Digg.com has to be held up as a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the existing filters we have. It doesn’t seem to me to be filled with any more or less crap than some link blogs that smart people I know have, including Waxy.org’s links and Kottke’s links. I think all in all Digg is pretty good. And I know Jeff Jarvis thinks so too, because he just wrote a column about it for the Media Guardian.

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