Earlier today, Matt Van Horn of Digg sent around an email with a private YouTube link to publishers and other influential folk Digg wants to show the redesign to. If Digg really wanted this email to remain quiet, which is a big if, it was a huge blunder to send it to a bunch of journalists with no formal embargo. Of course, it was promptly published by TechCrunch and several other publications (and now, us).
So what’s new? Most of this stuff was already known–former Digg CEO Jay Adelson spoke with us a few months ago and laid out the philosophical changes in Digg version 4. It’s less a public aggregator and more a personal tracker: you’ll have to follow friends from other social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and/or use the suggestions of experts Digg suggests, instead of just browsing popular stories. The new front page is totally personalized, showing stories recently dugg by friends–there will be a section for the ridiculously popular stories elsewhere on Digg, but it’ll be sequestered to a smaller area.
Digging will thus work more like retweeting than traditional Diggs. You’ll digg a story, it’ll show up on your friends’ pages, they’ll digg it, it’ll show up on their friends’ pages, and so forth. It’s a much different system, but should definitely work in the favor of both smaller publishers (who only need a few diggs to get started). It should also spread out the traffic–in the old Digg, only a few stories (maybe a hundred per day) get any added traffic at all. This way, more stories can spread to more people.
Other changes are considerably more minor but welcome, like a simplified way to submit stories (paste a URL and everything else is automatically generated) and the ability to auto-publish via RSS. Publishers, by the way, can set up a new account here.
Each digg will have the name of the person who dugg it underneath, and if more than one person on your friends list has dugg that story, it’ll show the number of people and the icon of the person who dugg it most recently.
Digg is painting this new system as an advantage over other networks like Facebook and Twitter since it lacks the status updates and other miscellany those networks have–Digg is still all about sharing links. Will that attract new users outside the Digg universe? We’ll have to see once it officially launches.