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Digg and the Fallacy of Web 2.0

Friday, October 6, 2006
Keywords: Technology

I rarely visit Digg, but I do glance at it every now and then. One of the items on the front page last night when I decided to visit on a whim was about cars running on water. It had over 300 diggs by then, and as of this morning, the count was over 700. It's quite a high number of diggs for something that is pure quackery that should never have even made it to the front page! In contrast, when AOL offered free (well, sorta free) domain names through their My eAddress service, that got only 17 diggs and did not make it to the front page.

There is a lot of confusion over what exactly this new "Web 2.0" buzzword is all about, and the most widely accepted notion of Web 2.0 is that there is a new paradigm of user-generated content*, like blogs, "democratic" news (Digg), inane YouTube videos, etc. But there is a problem with this, as Digg has illustrated: the quality of the content of Web 2.0 is only as good as the quality of the collective, and unfortunately, this world is brimming with idiots. Of course, even places with editorial oversight like Slashdot is far from perfect, if people can remember the time when they reported on a compression scheme that could compress arbitrary random data (which, by the way, is patently ridiculous and simply impossible and can be easily proved so mathematically), but those who criticize the failure of Slashdot's editorial board will likely have a heart attack when they see what sort of things make it to Digg's front page each and every day.

Needless to say, I have little confidence in the wonders of Web 2.0. And as distasteful and politically incorrect as this may sound (esp. coming out of a libertarian like myself) there is little wonder why our Founding Fathers did not advocate the direct election of Presidents (more...).

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* Ironically, this what the web was about at the beginning, at least, before the dot-com gold rush; so we're actually going from Web 1.1 back to Web 1.0, but apparently, nobody likes the sound of that.

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