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July 07, 2006
Glad to See Hitwise Weigh in on Digg v. NYTimes Traffic
Traffic tracking service Hitwise sifted through its data to weigh in on the debate on whether the Digg is closing in on the NYTimes. Their finding: "The share of page impressions for the NY Times was 19 times greater than for Digg for that week."
I am really glad to see that they did this and it's a good example of how blogs are used, when assertion are flying, to clarify the facts.
Om also weighs in on Hitwise weighing in and he is right to defend the power of Digg. Though, I think he overstates the case when he says that Digg is the new king maker, especially since he's using the BBC as an example. The BBC's new media guru Ashley Highfield has been very clear in explaining that he expects to mix Digg-like features with BBC's own editorial input when it comes to helping folks sift through news.
The bottom line to me is that, unlike in the past, when there wsa a set group of information gatekeepers and models for how they distributed the news, there are likely to be lots of models for how folks keep up with what's going on in the world.
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While Digg DOES have an incredibly disproportianate impact on search engines and blog memes in the tech and adolescent world, it certainly is WAY far from being a mainstream phenomenon, which is what many would like to believe it has become (including Digg itself and its members). Its massive rise in influence within its niche, though, will likely have some influence on broader discussions and digital media. If I were an online publisher, or a PR person, I'd be watching very closely how this idea catalyst works.
I also think it's important to note that the behavior of the Digg netork suffers from a phenonomenon similar to the U.S. government: it's run by and reflects extremists who sometimes have too much time on their hands. Extreme bloggers. Extreme adolescents. Extreme techies. Extreme fans of strange news. Extreme fans of sensational headlines and stories. I admit I fall into a few of those extremist categories.
There is a tiny epicenter of Digg members which jockeys intensively for the gratification of being Dugg. I'm not saying the Digg system is flawed or bad, because I actually think it's awesome and helps me discover a lot of interesting content. However, it's not a utopian democracy -- by and for the will of the people. It is a practical democracy where a few hand-raisers passionately do most of the work, where their motivations are guided by agenda and ego.
LeeAnn?? set-the-record-straight post also reflects another trend: that discussion memes can go in slanted directions, fueled by an abundance of free data tools (like Alexa and Google Trends) and half-baked analyses. Free data tools are great, but they should be used with greater caution. They're extremely valuable, but they're better used for demo-ing limited functionality of higher-grade pro tools, or just discovering early-stage insights and directional trends (which you would then verify by mutliple, other, more reliable tools).
Finally, here's one final piece of directional insight to ponder: Digg's share of mentions in the blogosphere HAS been catching up to the NYTimes. Provided the blogosphere's disproportionate influence on agenda-setting and outcome, perhaps reach or audience size is the wrong comparison to be asking in the first place.
Posted by: Max Kalehof at July 8, 2006 10:46 AM
Good to hear from you and thanks for the insight. It's always great hearing what you have to think about the whole measurement business, since you know it so well. You make a great point about these free traffic tracking tools and I couldn't agree more. I wish people would think a little more about what these tools are worth before throwing them around so quickly, without understanding how they work and their limitations...
I also agree that watching Digg is important, especially in the digital media space where it draws such a high number of participants.
Posted by: Heather Green at July 8, 2006 05:20 PM
I like Digg and popurl.
Posted by: steven e. streight aka vaspers the you know what at July 9, 2006 05:09 PM
We just started using Digg and it's an exciting web application. What I personally love about Digg is the ability to test a news piece, article, or item. You know instantly how your piece is going over with readers.
We don't see Digg traffic converting well alot in the way of business action, but the excitment of instant testing is enough to keep us utilzing the Digg site.
Posted by: Terry at July 10, 2006 11:11 PM