What George Orwell Can Teach Us About Digg

In George Orwell’s legendary political satire, Animal Farm (aff) the story is portrayed that the farmhouse animals band together under the leadership of Snowball and Napoleon, the pigs, who become dangerously socialistic George Orwellin their approach to leadership on the farm. In a typical way, the pigs win the animals trust and allegiance by establishing a Constitution of sorts declaring, among other things, that “No animal shall kill any other animal” and “All animals are equal”.

Soon however, as the intoxication of power takes over, the deceptive nature of the pigs begin to infiltrate the farm house. As the story goes, the rules begin to be changed by the pigs to justify their own actions. Where once the rule read, “No animal shall kill any other animal”, it now read, “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” The most ironic rule change came when “All animals are created equal” conveniently became “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

George Orwell in his amazing wisdom spoke of political mindsets that had begun to overtake, not only Russia around the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, but of society and mankind itself. Without becoming too political, America too has more than just traces of Orwellian reason to it.

And this is exactly the thread that is at work at Digg. As a service, the democratic approach was refreshing and many people went along. To this day, many go along but there are hints of dissension in the ranks. The Digg Mob, also known as the Bury Brigade because of their instinctive nature to bury everything they don’t like simply because they don’t like it, wield their power in an obsessive, mean-spirited way. They lead their peers based on dedication to Digg (aka, they Digg a lot of stories, spend a lot of time, probably know Kevin Rose personally, etc). They are the respected leaders and with their recommendations (Diggs and Burys), they control the democratic process.

This is not democracy. This is totalitarianism. Like Napolean and Snowball, and eventually Squealer, the brigade has taken a good principle available to anyone who wishes to use the service and twisted it to their own agendas and with it gained power on which, now, they are drunk on.

This must change.

As mentioned yesterday, I don’t care if I ever get on the front page of Digg again. I don’t particularly care if any of my stories are Dugg. If you want to do me a favor, add my stories to del.icio.us. Or make my blog a favorite of yours in Technorati. Or link to a story of mine and tell the world – your world, your audience – your take on something I’ve written. Don’t ask me to Digg your stories. I won’t do it. No offense, I just won’t use Digg. Maybe I’ll do you a favor and del.icio.us you myself. Or add you to Reddit. My point is there are alternatives.

The armor is cracking. The grip is loosening. No need for us to continue to be Lemmings looking to Digg for cheap traffic, cheap thrills and cheap attention. Let’s can it and go after something worthwhile – something we can affect and shape without relying on someone else like the pigs to do it for us.

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4 Replies to “What George Orwell Can Teach Us About Digg”

  1. You have hit upon one of my very favorite of all time books. I have often likened myself to Boxer while working for the man. Working my butt off while only later being sold for glue when my usefulness had been expended. In your instance the Digg Mob and the Bury Brigade could be analogous to the dogs brought up by the pigs to do their dirty work and to enforce their agenda. I’ve never met Kevin Rose, and cannot say he is sitting in the house getting drunk on power, but I would like to see him at least address the issues being thrown out by you and by the likes of Jason Calacanis. I may spend some time in my own post to ask Kevin Rose to touch upon this for us. Should we not expect the pigs in the house to be more transparent?

  2. I hadn’t thought about it like that before.

    I cancelled my Digg account months ago. I have better things to do with my time than read about other people bitching about stuff.

    I’ve also got better things to bitch about, but seeing as though it’s ‘Digg week’.

    These days I use Digg as a handy resource for finding cool stuff on the net. I essentially use it as a headline aggregator for content that I wouldn’t find under my own steam.

    It may be a little dangerous to leave the content I end up reading in the hands of people who rarely seem capable of thinking about something before making their mind up, but I’m bang in the center of the demographic, so in that sense it suits me just fine.

    You know what would be a cool idea? If Digg paid a select few users to feed quality content into the system. They could call them editors.

    Oh wait… My bad…

    I think Digg is a great idea, but it’s fundementally flawed; Its biggest flaw is that users can bury stories.

    If you don’t like a product that’s being advertised on a commercial, then don’t buy it. Those that might want to try that product are welcome to, but you won’t have anything to do with it.

    If you don’t want to vote for a particular candidate in whatever democratic elections your country may hold, then don’t vote for them. Other people may want to, but hopefully the better party will win. That’s the very idea behind democracy isn’t it?

    If you don’t like a story on Digg, don’t fucking digg it. There’s no need for a ‘bury’ function. By allowing that you swipe the carpet under the very feet of the entire premise. It opens the doors for corruption and bias. I find myself thinking more of an olligarchy than a democracy.

    It seems that Digg thinks a little too much about demography, and not nearly enough about democracy. If they had have thought of the latter then they would have realised that Digg is not a democratic system at all.

    I’ve never voted in the UK general election, but I’m pretty certain that there isn’t a box on that form that, when ticked, will count against the opposition…

    “I’m very sorry Mr. Cameron, but you’re no longer elligible to run for office in this election.”

    “What? What are you talking about? All those meetings… The hands I shook… Whu, What?”

    “Well sir, we’re still waiting on the exit polls, but it appears you were voted down…”

    What the fuck?

    Aaron: Apologies for the rant, but I feel I have a terribly valid point that I don’t think anyone has hit upon yet.

    I also apologise for the swears, but I guess it’s not too bad… You’re all grown up and that, so I guess you can take it ;)

  3. Digg tries makes it impossible to resign from the site. I had to write a CEASE AND DESIST letter to them just to get my subscription cancelled. I agree they are drunk on whatever popularity or money the idea has brought to them.

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