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Digg revolt is a case study in politics

In case you haven't heard, there's something of a in the Digg community.

It began with accusations that certain "power users"--those anointed with that designation based on the popularity of their links--were gaming the system. As Digg vowed to address the perceived unfairness, some power users objected and even withdrew from the system entirely.

What has emerged is as much a political science case study as a Web traffic phenomenon. A blog called jp's domain, for example, noted in a recent analysis of traffic that "a small 'aristocracy' controls the vast majority of the content that gets on Digg."

Interesting that the term "aristocracy" was used. The core of the concept behind Digg, Delicious, Reddit and other tag-based headline sites is ostensibly reader democracy: The more times a piece of information is tagged, the higher its ranking. But in most democratic social systems--especially those of capitalistic Western nations--hard work is rewarded with some form of recognition or other compensation, at least in theory.

So what is the Digg controversy really about? An academic might argue that it's a textbook clash of social, political and even economic values, set forth with passionate rhetoric that uncannily reflects the haves-vs.-have-not debates that have polarized liberals and conservatives for generations.

And as such, there's no right or wrong answer. It's just a compelling example of how Web 2.0 networks increasingly mirror the physical world.