Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Do you Digg?

Swarm intelligence, emergence, social networks and all that jazz. After Google started ranking search results based on essentially what people think is important, crowd opinion and popularity has been an important factor in trawling the sea of online information for the tuna of knowledge.

So-called social bookmarking is one way of facilitating this. And now, after they've been around for a few years already, I'm jumping on the bandwagon, or at least taking it for a spin. Why now, why not earlier? Well, when it comes to news, I have my habits. News for me isn't just about being up-to-date, it's about the ritual of reading it. It's about the sense of being in control, the familiarity and connection that I have with the trusted news sources.

One of the best things in life is opening a fresh newspaper on the kitchen table, with a cup of steaming coffee on one side and a bowl of porridge in front of you. The physical paper is an important part of that ritual, and a ritual in itself. My broadsheet comes in 4 sections, with one extra section on Fridays and Saturdays, and two extra sections on Sunday. These extras are taken aside first, and read last. I read a section at a time, skipping much of it but basically starting from the beginning. Etc. Everyone has their way.

Reading online is a different ritual. By reading news from just a few selected sources gets you close. I revisit the news site a number of times during the day, depending on the levels of procrastinatorfin in my blood and being familiar with the sites I immediately see if there's something new or if stories have been updated. This is important, every site has their own logic in displaying news headlines and unless you know how it works there's no way of knowing what you don't know yet.

But too much routine is soo middle-aged. And as an early sign of an emerging mid-life crisis I'm trying to break my online news-reading ritual by customising a google news page and signing up to Digg. And that's the funny box on top of this post as well, now these ramblings can be linked and "dugg". Now both my readers should sign up for Digg and click the link there, as the more times a story is dugg the higher it climbs in the rankings and the more often it gets offered to people as relevant news. We all might need to set up some fake accounts, but only a couple of hundred diggs usually gets you on the lists. :-)

Actually, the reason to this is just the curiosity to learn how these work. While I haven't had much use for these, millions of people have, and from the point of view of social cognition this is important. And also, I wanted to see if expanding to about 10 000 sources instead of the 3 I normally use would open new perspectives or be useful at some level.

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