Jeff Jarvis shows old media the Digg effect

In his column in the Guardian, Jeff Jarvis does his “scary blogboy dance” (his words, not mine – but I do identify) for the CUNY J-School faculty, including a number on Digg, the social bookmarking site that makes Slashdot look like a quaint relic dug up from the vaults of Usenet.

Jarvis says:

The concept behind Digg is disarmingly simple: when members find stories of interest – so far, mostly about tech – they recommend the articles to others at the site. The members get credit for being the first to find stories, which means that you have 150,000 editors fighting to find the good stuff fast, and that makes Digg a great source for timely tech news. Once the articles appear on Digg, members click to check them out, sending huge traffic to each article; this is known as “the Digg effect”. If the articles pass muster, members vote them onto the front page – they “digg” the stories, get it? And so the community creates the front page. We are the editor. Imagine if there were a parallel front page to this paper, edited by you and the smart community that gathers here. (Not a bad idea, eh?)

If your knees just jerked off the ground and the words “popularity contest” came to mind, you’ll have to read Jarvis’ column to learn why it doesn’t work that way.