Can we just stop with the new Digg-like sites? Please?
I didn't think so. Here's another new social bookmarking tool, fresh from the Silicon Valley NewTech Meetup last night. It's called coRank, and it just went into public beta this week. It's going to be compared to Digg, and it looks a lot like it on the surface--it even offers an optional Digg-like skin--but at its core, it's based on a very different philosophy.
First, here's what's similar: You can see links that other people like and vote them up or down. Through a bookmarklet, it's easy to also add your own links.
The difference: coRank was not built to display "wisdom of the crowd" links as Digg does. While the front page can display a "featured by all" list of stories, the idea is that as you use the site you add people to your own private list of sources. Then you'll only see stories from them. You can also set your account to display stories tagged by "sources of sources," to cast your net a bit wider.
The founders are clearly trying to pull the best concepts from Digg and Del.icio.us together. It's a site for social bookmarking, with the clear understanding that one list of links does not fit all. Everybody's coRank experience will be very different.
But there are hurdles to using this site, both for users new to social bookmarking and for current Digg fans.
First of all, it requires a bit of work to build a list of sources. While you can easily add sources to your account--and you don't even need their permission--there's a commitment of time required to find those people. You can also invite new people to coRank to become sources for you, but that's even more of a commitment.
Digg users may also scoff at coRank's pitch, since much (but not all) of what coRank does can be done by experienced Diggers. If you have friends on Digg, you can easily watch (or subscribe to) just what they are Digging, for example.
As a general-purpose bookmarking site, I'm not bullish on coRank's future, since it's entering such a crowded market and since it's conceptually complex. Also, in many ways, coRank is the anti-Digg. The more you use it, the more you cheat yourself out of the wisdom of the masses and out of the potential to find the stories that a very large group finds interesting. You could argue that Digg's user base is not representative of the world at large, but even so, coRank encourages you to narrow your worldview to just that of your group. Maybe that's what people want. But I'd be sure to use coRank in addition to Digg, not as a replacement.
Later, the company is planning to launch a feature that could become very useful: The capability to set up your own private groups of friends who can submit and vote on stories. I like the idea of being able to set up a "micro Digg" with coworkers or people in my social network. I don't think it's the next billion-dollar business, but it does sound like a good utility.