I am, perhaps, a bit odd. What I want from a social bookmarking site (or whatever the kinds are calling them these days) are articles which I did not know I wanted to read. For everything else, there’s RSS. I preferred Digg to its competitors (reddit and delicious) because I felt it had a wider base of sources it drew from, didn’t look like it was designed stylistically in 1997, and offered a feature that told me what other people who had liked the same articles as me had also liked. That last one really sealed the deal.
For me, social networking will probably never be social. There are so many ways I could stay connected with the people I care about, that the odds are slim to none that I will ever be connecting with all of them on the same service rendering the whole experience somewhat vacuous. Moreover, I already know what they like. If I wanted to read my friends favorite articles, there are much better ways for me to do that. I want an Amazon recommendation system for news. I want something that will tell me about something I never would have seen before based on my interest in the articles I already know how to find.
Digg gave me that. At least a close enough approximation that I used the service regularly. Now they’ve decided to re-invent RSS, a service I already use, and tack on some social features a la Google Reader. So it doesn’t let me do anything I couldn’t do before. The one feature that made it unique is missing. And in order to find parts of the web I’m statistically inclined to enjoy I’ve had to resort to stumbleupon. It gets close. But I want NEWS, not any random thing on the web that’s been sitting there for any period of time. And I can’t stand going through each website serially. I want a shotgun start. I want to not have to open articles that disinterest me based on their title and blurb.
So apparently the active business model in news aggregator services is to re-invent the already established wheel and offer nothing new. Which is sad. If there were one out there doing something unique, even if it wasn’t the specific unique thing I want them to do (keeping in mind that as far as I’m concerned social interaction on these services doesn’t exist… I just wanna read) I might use it just for that. So you folks with enough free time to spend reading a lot of news, enlighten me. Who really is doing something special and why should I be using their service?