Digg's founding father Kevin Rose has just revealed that Digg is soon to get a "drastic" makeover that'll make users go "wow." Rose says the site's redesign will have more emphasis on imagery and social sharing. Will it boost its fortunes?
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper, Rose noted that while the changes to Digg are indeed drastic and will shock some users, "they're much-needed drastic changes." He remarked that in order to innovate to take a service like Digg into its next generation one has to be "comfortable with completely tearing down and throwing away a bunch of ideas."
Digg's structure has remained pretty much intact as it has added new features like the Diggbar and its own (controversial) URL-shortening system, with a largely text-based blogroll of newly Dugg stories discovered by its 35 million users from around the greater Web. Digg did have something of a social media sharing angle, with the ability to "shout" requests and newly interesting Digg finds to user's friend groups, but it recently deprecated the system by removing the shout function as it was being abused.
Now it looks like Digg is going to make social sharing a much more central feature, with an emphasis on real-time data. A recommendation system will be "more about what people within one or two degrees of separation are up to—what they're consuming and enjoying" according to Rose, inspired by the fact that so much sharing is happening around the Internet, with people "'touching' pieces of content that they care about."
It's clear from this that Rose is aware that some of Digg's shine has been stolen by social networks like Twitter and Facebook—both much in the eye of the media, and often used for sharing and discovery of new content between friends. In Twitter's case, its one-to-many, socially broad open distribution network is an extremely powerful way of sharing URLs, and probably bests Digg's own system, which tends to be the online venue where the more techy Net denizens hang out. It's also gaining attention thanks to its news-breaking powers, and the fact that Google's using it to drive its own real time "finger on the pulse of the World" search trend system.
Hence Digg seems to be about to turn into something a bit more like a blog—with enhanced emphasis on imagery—crossed with a social network, and with a dash of Twitter's real-time update. It'll link more closely with Twitter and Facebook too, along with IM and email. Will it work as a strategy? Possibly, if only because Web users are ever more accustomed to both real-time updates and social sharing—Digg is adopting these trends. It's much harder to say if it'll make Digg as innovative and powerful as it once was, though: That will all depend on whether Rose's team can combine the new site's elements in a novel and powerful way, rather than merely echoing what others are doing elsewhere online.