Heath Ledger had Mary-Kate Olsen on redial. This is what I’d really like to write about today.
But looming over that is the Digg algorithm change.
I’ve been skimming Digg since it began in 2004 because I thought Kevin Rose was hot. His affable nerd haircut and rumpled slacks. He was my Dark Tipper on The Screensavers. My interest in the cultural memes of tech made me an avid follower. I never once felt I could get a story Dugg because I wasn’t in that particular boys club.
Kevin Rose, in his blog post, is making clear that he wants Digg to be more “fair” and not run by a network of, well, white tech boys like him. Immediately the Diggboys reacted by proclaiming their withdrawl from Diggnation. If their posts don’t control digg they won’t play!
Some commenters, like Brian Lam, are hopeful about the changes:
I like the new changes. Getting the algorithm to be resistant to group
digging will make things more fair. These people are complaining about
checks and balances, the system needs to stay healthy. Some of these
things sound undemocratic, but democracies need checks and balances,
especially for the most powerful in a given society. Just my two cents.
And so this discourse will play out with Digg getting more publicity and thus pageviews, more new submitters, less old submitters and a tremendous democracy will be established for news. Or, it will fail and it will all be because of devil capitalism and Kevin Rose’s hunger to monetize Digg and finally sell this dead-weight which has made him simultaneously famous and yet not a tech billionaire. The potential of ultimate electronic democracy will not be realized and the search will go on. Is it Reddit (and the promise of the new personalized beta)? Is it Twitter ? Is it a singular penultimate Twoosh?
I will now, with my immense and dull cultural theory, like my own neck-weight, tell you exactly what will happen by cathecting this scenario with a new element: historical context.
They are instead, a component of Western culture, with a lineage stretching back over centuries. This history, both complex and conflicting, limits and defines Digg.
When the American colonists decided to strike out on their own and form a country without oppression that protected personal freedoms of everyone they failed. Instead they replicated social patterns and created a country where white wealthy men owned all the power.
Democracy is the rhetoric needed right now and right here to rally people together in productive ways. Making junk. Making money. Combining all that hot mess.
There is nothing democratic about Digg and there never will be. If I want to join a social network that is not dominated by people with the privilege to be technically savvy (read: Western, white, not poor) then I am S.O.L. This is not the much lamented “digital divide.” It is much more profound.
The Internet, like the American colonies, merely replicates social hierarchies. While we are “invisible” online, the material world that prevents us from digging or posting is not invisible. Moreover, the little white men inside us all guards against massive social shifts. And so we go. Luckily, none of this is totalizing. We can all take the hot mess and make smear it on gratifyingly.
Meanwhile, I should’ve posted about Heath and Mary-Kate. I mean, she’s so tiny and tortured. They must have made such sad tender love and held each other against the ignominy of fame.