Among the geekier sites I visit on a daily basis is Digg. Most of its users are younger, smarter and more computer savvy than I am. Hanging out there is like being in the world’s nerdiest club.
All of Digg’s content is submitted by its users. Mainly you see links to other sites and attached comments from Digg users.
The site name comes from its modus operandi. An entry’s popularity (and hence its position on the site) is decided by how many registered users “Digg” it.
Right now Digg’s home page is a shambles. Digg’s users are in the midst of a protest. The site has been rendered worthless.
What’s going on maybe a harbinger of the anarchy ahead within Internet ‘communities’.
It started this way. Someone cracked the digital rights management key that protects HD-DVDs. Though HD-DVDs were designed to change encryption schema under just such an occasion, this discovery is so deep within the process, it pretty much leaves these disks (the disk makers actually) defenseless.
Though worthless to me, having this little string of numbers will allow a skilled programmer to do anything he wants with these disks.
Digg’s users, propeller heads that they are, posted the story and the magic number on the site. That in turn brought on a takedown letter from the attorney’s representing the HD-DVD alliance (here’s a similar one that went to Google).
What was Digg to do? Leaving the number up opened the site to legal action under the federal DMCA. On the other hand, once the secret was on the Internet, it was public knowledge. There’s no way to protect the key anymore.
Digg acquiesced and its users went nuts!
Now, every story on Digg’s home page contains the number! Some of the entries have the number hidden in plain site while others make no pretenses about what is being posted. Some of the posts are cleverly sophomoric. All are worthless to regular Digg users.
Digg’s real content has been buried. That’s what an online protest can do.
I have no idea how this will turn out – right now it’s ugly.
Are there different rules for the Internet? Does information really yearn to be free? Can Digg’s owners regain their website?
Right now at least, there are no answers.
Blogger’s addendum: This is big enough that it’s now made the front page at Drudge. On top of that, the Digg site seems to be down. This story has not ended.
Update @ 2:47 AM – Normally I’d create a second entry to continue this story, but I want to keep these together. Kevin Rose, the guy behind Digg, has posted this on the Digg blog:
Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0
by Kevin Rose at 9pm, May 1st, 2007 in Digg Website
Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts