Measured Against Reality

Friday, September 14, 2007

Social News shmocial shmooze

Social news is big news these days, for some reason. As someone who has used Digg for nearly two years, and chief competitor Reddit for almost as long, I feel fairly safe in saying that the more people use social news, the worse it becomes.

For example, Reddit used to be home to tons of good articles, now it's just a repository of "cool pictures!" and "George Bush sucks" articles. There was a fun point before labor day where a good quarter of the front-page articles were about the imminent invasion of Iran, which I'd say almost certainly won't happen. (The current administration isn't that stupid, right?)

Digg suffered the same problem. I used to read nearly every front-page story, back when there were 20 a day, but now that there are about a hundred there are far fewer good ones, not just percentage-wise but in absolute numbers.

Granted, this is just based on my tastes, but social news aggregators just aren't that useful for finding good news, I've found blogs to be far better (Reason is great, for example).

I'm not one for making predictions, they're usually wrong, but I don't think that these things are here to stay. It's really difficult to predict the internet, and those who have were lucky rather than smart or insightful (keep in mind that for every person with a good prediction record there are hundreds who were totally wrong, we just don't hear about them, no one brags about being wrong). This is why I think people like Ray Kurzweil are idiots, they think they can generalize the future based on limited information from the past, and then have the illusion of being right because their predictions were sufficiently general (one might as well say "technology will advance!" and claim success). In fact, the book I'm currently read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes an even broader claim, that anyone making any prediction is a charlatan and a fraud, although they usually don't realize it, especially economists (NNT, as he calls himself, really dislikes economists).

I don't really have a good way to end what is essentially a long diatribe that started because I'm frustrated with


  • Digg, etc. are communities, and there's nothing wrong if they get "their news" from there.

    Where I see future in "social news" is in niche markets. If you're into SEO, you'd probably visit or Enjoy Startup news? Go or, etc.

    By Anonymous prep, at 3:12 AM, September 15, 2007  

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