During this past year, a number of oddities emerged in the world of tech. First, Microsoft was forced to live through an unbridled flop, Apple was enjoying its meteoric rise as the most successful company of the year and social networks gained even more steam. On the back of that, the world's favorite social network, MySpace, quickly gave ground to Facebook and companies like the ill-fated Netscape tried to take on Digg.
And it's that site -- Digg.com -- that emerged this year, not necessarily as the most popular social site (it's tough to call it a full-fledged social networking company in the vein of a Facebook or MySpace), but as the best destination for people surfing the Web.
Don't believe me? Let's take a look at some other social networking sites to see why they couldn't make the cut.
And while it may be one of the most popular sites, it's easily one of the most annoying. Let's be honest, how many people out there actually care that you're "tired" or "in a bad mood" each time your status is updated? Even better, do I need to be poked every time you're too darn shy (or stupid) to just send me a message or, here's an idea, call me?
Of course, Facebook's annoyances go far beyond friendships. What about privacy concerns when some lonely guy sitting in his mother's basement starts trolling around the site looking for Halloween pictures of college girls that he doesn't even know? Worse, what about the well-founded concerns of pedophiles finding a new avenue to lure children into unwanted circumstances? Surely that should detract somewhat from this site's allure, right?
But I digress. Not everyone is on Facebook to stalk people and obviously millions of people believe it's a great site. And to them, I say, "great!" Just don't expect me to use it as this junker of a site quickly becomes the cesspool MySpace currently is.
MySpace Which brings me to MySpace. Is it not one of the ugliest and most disgustingly horrid sites you've even been to? Go ahead, try your luck with a search and tell me if it actually works. If so, head to the page of the person you're looking up and tell me if there's music playing automatically, you can't read a thing on the page because the design is awful and there are some weird symbols that are supposed to represent this person's name. If so, get away from it as soon as possible. Trust me, you won't regret it.
The issues I have with MySpace go far beyond its ugliness, though. Once again, privacy concerns should come to the forefront and I'm still not sold on the belief that MySpace will last forever. Personally, I think it has about one more year left in the tank before it hits rock bottom. These sites last a few years, at best. Why should MySpace (or Facebook for that matter) be any different?
Slashdot Okay, so maybe Slashdot isn't a social site in the conventional sense of the word, but it's a major competitor to Digg, so I thought I should mention it.
What makes Slashdot so great is what makes it bad. By and large, Slashdot is a destination for the uber-geek who wants to find out the latest on some of the tech topics that the average person either doesn't care about or has no idea they even existed. Sure, some stories are great and worth reading, but one of the main reason Digg has been able to overtake Slashdot is because the people get to choose which stories should be shown on the front page -- not a group of editors. If Slashdot ever decided to install a quasi-Digg promotion engine into its site, I wonder what kind of stories would hit the front page. My guess? Even geekier stuff -- as long as the Slashdot faithful didn't revolt first.
Digg So what makes Digg so great? It's simple really.
Digg is a hub for millions of people every month and yet it doesn't suffer from privacy concerns and it actually enlightens you instead of making you dumb. Instead of stalking people, you have the opportunity to become part of a community that decides on which topics are worthwhile and those that are not. Simply put, Digg is a place where the average person can find a platform they need to tell the world what really matters. How can that be bad?
Compare that to its competitors and I'm hard-pressed to find just one that offers the enrichment and overall quality Digg offers. Think about it -- it's not ugly, you don't stalk, you learn something and you actually make a difference.
There's no guarantee that any of these sites will be around in 2008 and chances are, many of these will be sold off to the highest bidder. But as long as Digg sticks around and stays true to what it is, I'll be happy -- and I think you will be too.