Digg – Move Over Slashdot

For years, I’ve been a huge Slashdot fan. Slashdot is techie news in a modified blog form.

Slashdot’s slogan says it all: “News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.”

Why Nerds is spelled with a capital “N” is beyond me. We’ll let it pass.

Over the past few months, my allegiance has shifted. Now my favorite techie site is Digg.

As far as I can see, Digg is sloganless.

Slashdot solicits stories from readers (basically references to things published elsewhere), which are perused by editors. So, what is posted is what strikes the editors as interesting.

Digg works differently. Readers still submit stories, but on Digg they’re juried by other readers. Are they good enough? Have they been “dugg?” If a story is approved by enough readers, it is promoted to the home page.

Digg is the product of Kevin Rose, who I remember from The Screen Savers on TechTV. Someone I know, who tried to solicit business from Kevin, described him as a genius. I have no doubt.

Someone must be making a fortune, because this site costs relatively little to mount and the Google ads displayed&#185 can be lucrative (I made $3.22 Sunday!).

I find Digg has more stories than Slashdot, and since every story submitted (good or bad) is available, I can always kill time looking at what others have found interesting. Slashdot only lets me see the editor’s choices.

I have become an online news junkie. I can’t get enough. It is an addiction. Digg does a better job feeding this addiction – it’s that simple.

Actually, my addiction goes beyond tech news. I have become a sponge for what’s going on whether it be politics, business, technology. I don’t care. I like a good story. I like to read.

Often, I am upset or disappointed that more isn’t going on… or that websites whose content I enjoy aren’t updated often enough (especially true on weekends).

I don’t know how many more Internet new junkies there are? I can’t be alone.

&#185 – In order to check out Google’s ads, I had to turn off Adblock, an amazing extension for my Firefox browser. I see hardly any ads on this PC and never see pop-ups or pop-unders. Never.

More Television Future Shock

Do you need a TV station to have a TV show? Yes and no. The advantage of a TV station is, it is a known commodity, usually with a well visited address.

If our newscasts on Channel 8 were to move tomorrow to the SciFi Channel, ratings would plummet. That’s not to say bad things about SciFi, we just have better channel position with more traffic.

The disadvantage of a television station is it usually has high fixed costs. Smart operators are trying to work those costs down through automation and other technical advances. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t – but it’s obviously the wave of the future.

This leads to a question. Is it possible to have a successful TV show without having a TV channel (or cable network) behind you?

I’m wondering if the answer is yes after having seen a show produced by systm.org. It features Kevin Rose who was on Tech TV’s The Screen Savers.

The show I saw last night was well produced, but on a topic so technically dense that few except the chronically nerdy would have watched. There were no commercials – how can it be economically sustained? Using the bittorrent protocol it took around 10 minutes to download.

Of course, it was free.

What I watched looked as good as anything produced for over-the-air or cable TV. If it had been something more attractive to a wide audience, with some way to pay the freight, I think it might be successful!

Bittorrent is an interesting distribution method, because it uses the collective bandwidth of the users, not a central server paid for by the program’s distributor. That’s a major cost saving when each viewer needs to receive hundreds of megabytes of data.

For attractive media (defined as something a specific group of viewers would seek out, because it scratches a specific itch) this might be a godsend.

Think of subject matter like photography, knitting, ham radio and kayaking. Each of these has a dedicated base of fans who want to see more on their hobby or avocation, but there’s not enough audience tonnage to make this work on an established channel. Because the audience would be sharply targeted, each set of eyeballs would be worth more to advertisers or underwriters (this is non traditional media – why not a non traditional economic model).

It could be commercially viable – though more on the retail level than the mass marketing we’re used to on TV. In other words, it makes sense for a person or small group of persons to do this. It doesn’t make as much sense for a larger, high cost basis organization to get involved.

The big question is, will people do all the things necessary to download these files? Is there a way to preserve the cost structure as it is and make it seamless for the end user?

This could be very exciting.

Without The Web

I came home from work last night, turned on the computer, got my mail then went to change. By the time I returned to the PC, the Internet had disappeared. On the cable modem, bot the PC and power lights were on – the cable light was not.

It was nearly 1:00 AM, so I decided not to call Comcast. Who would have been around at that time to fix it? Surely it would be working by morning.

When Helaine got up, no Internet!

As it turns out, sometime around 10:00 AM service returned. But that’s not the point. Without the Internet, I was lost.

I wanted to blog. There was a weather display program I had discovered that I wanted to test on my Linux machine. I wanted to trade emails and read about the World Series of Poker on Usenet. I wanted to play poker.

There is a backup. I’m not even sure if it’s currently connected, but my router has the facility to connect to an external modem I have and (shudder) dial-in for my connection. I have become so spoiled that I put that option off.

I went downstairs and watched two episode of “The Screen Savers” I had recorded from G4TechTV. It’s only during the past week that TechTV shows have been available on my cable system. The shows were enjoyable, though a bit under produced and choppy. Some of the anchors were less than comfortable on-the-air.

Most of all, I missed Leo Laporte. When I had last seen this program, he had been hosting. He is, by far, the best tech host on television – a total natural.

It’s funny how much my late night enjoyment depends on having the Internet. It is a weakness. It is not necessarily wrong.