V1

As beta works and Digg both announced on their blogs, we are taking over Digg and turning it back into a startup. What they didn’t mention is that we’re rebuilding it from scratch. In six weeks.

On August 1, after an adrenaline and caffeine-fueled six weeks, we’re rolling out a new v1. With this launch, we’re taking the first step towards (re)making Digg the best place to find, read and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet — and we want your help.

Huh… who is “we”?
We’re a New York-based team of 10 engineers, designers, and editors. As a startup called News.me, we have been eating, drinking and dreaming news applications for the last couple of years, designing products for email, iPad, and iPhone that help people find and read the stories shared by their friends on Twitter and Facebook.

These principles are posted in our office, which is affectionately dubbed “The War Room”:

  1. We make it easy to find, read, and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet.
  2. The experience must be fast and thin. Let users go, and they will come back to you. We optimize for return visits, not page views per visit.
  3. Build an experience that is native to each device: smart phone, inbox, Web page. Stories must find the user, wherever they are.
  4. Users must be able to share where they and their friends already are — on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and email.

We are a startup team with ambitious principles and we need to move quickly. The old Digg infrastructure was expensive and it afforded us little latitude to innovate and build at a fast clip. So four weeks ago, we set an aggressive goal to move to a new infrastructure by August 1. We are starting with a fresh code base — it’s modern, it’s fast and it’s shiny and new.

Why did you acquire Digg?
When it launched in 2004, Digg was way ahead of its time. It illustrated a fact that, since then, Facebook and Twitter have driven home: that readers of news no longer just read, they participate; they no longer just consume, they create; that the traditional roles of the editor can be dispersed and democratized. Digg was new and it was different, and it was like nothing that had come before.

Here’s what some smart people have had to say about Digg in recent years:

“Digg has always represented the spirit of the early Web 2.0 movement to me. Facebook has never been the emblematic company of the Web’s mid-2000 resurgence, because it has always been such an outlier from the pack. But Digg – like Delicious, Six Apart, Flickr, YouTube and others – was one of those messy, risky companies founded at a time when no one was ready to believe in the Web again.”
— Sarah Lacy, TechCrunch (now at PandoDaily)

“Digg was a pioneer that changed the media landscape not by creating anything, but instead by putting the people in charge of what was media. Like Flickr, it was a company that opened our eyes to the potential of the social web. It also reminded us that links are and will always be the atomic unit of the web…”
— Om Malik, GigaOm

We acquired Digg because we all need a product to help find, read and understand what the Internet is talking about right now.

Why do you care? Why should I care?
We care because Digg represented the messiness of the Internet at its best. It showed us that, out of the noise and the clutter, between the lolcats and the Kim Kardashian stories, a passionate but uncoordinated group of strangers could come together to create something coherent and substantial. Alone, each of these individuals had no following, but together they were able to capture a global audience with stories that the mainstream media had mistakenly deemed unimportant. Digg is worth protecting. To do that, we need your help, your input, and your support.

Why is News.me the best team to do Digg’s rebuild?
We’ve spent the last few years building news applications, and diving deep into how and why people find, read, and talk about the news. And we’ve learned a lot.

We’ve learned that we need to approach the problem with fresh eyes. The reason we started with email, iPad, and iPhone applications was precise because they constrained our design and forced us to challenge old assumptions.

We’ve learned that, at its best, content is a dynamic blend of smart algorithms, smart networks, and smart people.

We’ve learned that reading the news — from the breakfast table and the water cooler to the coffee shop — is nothing if not a social experience. The news influences how we interact with those around us; it shapes how we understand ourselves and our world.

We’ve also learned that we care about the same things that Digg has always cared about — delivering the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet. We have a lot to learn from Digg and the community behind it, and a lot of experimenting to do, and we’re chomping at the bit to get started.

Is the new Digg going to be a reskinned News.me?
Nope. We want to take what we’ve learned at News.me — delivering a personalized experience based on what your friends are sharing — and bring it to Digg. This will take some time, and we will want your input as we bring the best of these two products together.

How will Digg make money?
We won’t. Not yet. We have little time and fewer resources to focus on anything but the user, who is our first, second and third priority. We believe we can accomplish with ten great engineers and designers what other companies do with one hundred good ones and, by keeping our costs low, take our time to find a business model that does not disrupt or detract from the user experience.

What will happen to News.me?
News.me will continue to be available, and you can expect similar personalization from Digg in the next few months, but we will ultimately roll them into one product, under the Digg brand. That said, we won’t take anything away from the News.me experience until we can replace it with something better at Digg.

What if I don’t digg the Digg you launch on August 1?
We hope that you will see the upcoming launch as the beginning, not the end. This is the beginning of a new generation for Digg — a restoration of what was brilliant and disruptive and a reinvention of what was not.

What if I have criticism or suggestions for you?
Let us know! 
We want to hear from you: What did you love about Digg? What did you not love about Digg? What did it represent to you? Why did it matter? Let us know in our very first user survey…

…but we also ask for your patience: Building applications that can scale to millions of users take a gargantuan effort, so we have to focus on only the most important features for launch. If we’re missing something on Day 1, hang in there and let us know about it. There will be a Day 10 and a Day 20 and a Day 100. Help us rebuild Digg.

 

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A Version 1 preview

We have finally realized our dream of Digg and we have taken the last 6 weeks to hustle and rebuild the website from scratch.  Here is a sneak peek.

We plan to have Digg to be a real time example of what the internet is talking about. It needs to be fully responsive and interactive to everyone that visits it. We asked people in a survey why the visit websites like Digg. The majority of them do it to find and share great stories that they can’t find elsewhere in any other community. Here are our 4 goals:

  1. We want everything to be easy to read, find, and share the most talked about stories that are getting internet buzz.
  2. The user needs to experience something that is quick and easy to read. We want people to be able to browse share and easily come back to us.
  3. We want to build a unique experience that is compatible with each device. This way users will see stories on smartphones, email, and in social media.
  4. We want the stories to be easily shared on all social formats.

The old days of internet headlines just don’t work with stories that are bigger and have more impact on certain people. Not every story can be told the same way. Some stories are better told through video, Some stories are better through text, and some stories an image is worth a thousand words. We that in mind we have set out to design Digg. We are glad we made the decision to not launch Digg as IPO penny stock company.

Here are a few of our design mock ups. rethinkdigg digg

Here is a closer look at what we started with on our proposal. diggingit

 

The final version will be complete and ready for launch shortly. When you visit our site, you will find an amazing user-friendly experience. We won’t have a tradition website. We will bring something new to the internet so everyone has a great experience. No more boring newsrooms websites. You will bring the top stories and well as what is popular and upcoming to our users and visitors.

 

It will take awhile for us to get our commenting system up and running. We find that there are too many spam comments going around. So it will take longer to get up and rolling right.

 

We will be adjusting the Digg score. We will be focusing more on Facebook shares and Twitter shares to help find which stories are trending. No more walls. We want Digg to provide experiences that can interact with any site on the internet. Digg Scores will not only factor from our own site but also Facebook and Twitter. We will be able to process data to come up with accurate Digg scores.

diggscore

 

We learned a unique system of measuring from news.me which we will implement for the Digg score. We find that this new way of doing things has led to users reading stories multiple times in one day. After six weeks and our initial launch, we will be back to ask your opinions.