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The Internet is a Friend Who Has Always Been There for Me

// Posted by on 05/15/2015 (8:40 PM)

The Internet has always been there for me.

Perhaps anthropomorphizing the Internet, as I did in the title, isn’t the best way to go, perhaps it even makes me sound as if I have some sort of mental illness,

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The Internet has always been there for me.
Perhaps anthropomorphizing the Internet, as I did in the title, isn’t the best way to go, perhaps it even makes me sound as if I have some sort of mental illness, but it really has always been around and available when I’ve needed it. Thanks to Blogspot and Myspace, it was even there to listen to me when things weren’t great.
 When I, my dad, first loaded Prodigy onto our computer  I was hooked. It was really just chat rooms and such at that point, but it was still fun! Then it was quickly onto AOL from there (oh AOL, how much time I wasted with you), then Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Reddit, and so on. It’s always been there for me for one thing or another. While I’ve made it sound like my best friend, I’ve really always perceived it as more of a tool. It’s a tool that helps me when I need to know a random fact about anything (or serious information when I’m doing research work), it’s a tool that helps me get from place to place, it’s a tool that helps me to make informed purchases, it’s a tool that lets me keep in touch with my family, and it’s really so much more.
However, the conversation in class the other night did prompt me to consider the possibility that the Internet could also be a place. This is something that I had never considered before — never thought about it. The example I used in class is when I get home after a long day and after I’ve made dinner, put my son to bed, and talked to my wife about her day, I sometimes escape to the internet. While it’s true that in this example it is very much a tool being utilized for leisure, but it’s also very much a place. This is a place where I sometimes go to get lost in the mindless, vast, (cyber)space that is the Internet.
Even though I’ve accepted the Internet as a place, I still see it as more of a tool.
With so many people using this tool to do just about everything they do throughout the day, it has also increasingly become a tool for malevolence. It’s so easy. With all of the information users willingly put out there, it’s not hard for those with ill intentions to take advantage of Facebook users with limited security settings, the elderly with email scams, or even an anxious soon-to-be high school graduate waiting to hear from the school of his or her dreams.
Regardless of how it is used, it’s a tool, and I’ve always seen it that way.
Rules of Engagement:
So far, I think we’ve done a good job. It does appear that I might go over the 500 word limit that I stated that I saw as a good idea. However, I maintain that it is a good idea. I think setting a reasonable deadline for initial posts is a must for facilitating discussion, but I’m also willing to bet that we have an opinionated bunch that likely won’t have too much trouble posting early. I don’t know that requiring a specific number of replies is necessary provided that everyone has at least one thoughtful reply to an initial post that encourages further conversation. It’s possible that I am alone in this thinking, as I have seen a couple other post suggestions that conflict with this statement. Beyond that, I’m just happy not being in Blackboard. While the blog certainly bears a resemblance to Blackboard it seems less static. Also, I’m a fan of pictures and videos. I don’t think we should require the use of media in posts, but I would encourage it (this one is a little selfish).
At this point, if I say much more I think I’d cross into rambling territory. There a good rule: no rambling.

 


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“Digging” Into The Past

// Posted by on 02/03/2013 (10:43 PM)

I was going to do a brief history on the rise of Reddit, but I felt that a description of its predecessor, Digg, is in order. While they are unrelated in terms of ownership and development, Reddit… Read more

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I was going to do a brief history on the rise of Reddit, but I felt that a description of its predecessor, Digg, is in order. While they are unrelated in terms of ownership and development, Reddit and Digg heavily influenced each other and fought for prominence on the internet.

Digg was an very revolutionary website when it came out in 2004. While Google and Bing have the ability to look up information based on keywords that users type into a search box, Digg allowed users to stumble upon (no pun intended) links and articles that they weren’t necessarily looking for, but were deemed interesting by other Diggers. Four entrepreneurs started the website with a $6,000 investment in 2004 and used the name “Digg” because Disney had already taken www.dig.com. By mid-2005, the website had secured $2.8 million in funding from investors. That year, TechCrunch.com posted a profile of Digg on their website, claiming that the startup “is a very cool site and we are now behind it 100%…we’ll definitely be coming back for a look on June 26 for the new 2.0 Beta!”

In 2006, a number of important updates were added , such as profanity filters, the ability to flag things as “inappropriate,” podcasts, videos, and a large number of new categories. In 2008, Digg netted $28.7 million, which would end up being the last big moment for the company.

In their next update, Digg launched a completely re-designed website and extensive Facebook integration. An interview with Digg CEO Jay Adelson appeared in Wired Magazine in 2010. The writer says, ”Digg has offered a first glimpse of its new website design, a radical reboot that not only alters the entire look of the site, but also ditches Digg’s rigid taxonomy in favor of user-selected tags. It also taps into the broader social web to help users discover relevant news stories.”  As a bit of foreshadowing, the article says, “It’s a major overhaul of the site, the kind of radical change that risks alienating longtime users even as it takes advantage of the powerful social tools that have revolutionized the internet’s flow of information.”

The update was terribly buggy and glitchy. Users were furious over the changes, and most of them flocked to Reddit in retaliation. In addition, Facebook’s implementation of the “Like” system across the internet ruined Digg’s chances of successfully using its Facebook integration and “Digg” buttons. In a CNET article from June 21, 2010, Digg attempted to get back some of its users, traffic, and fame with a new update, but apparently their grave had already been “dugg.” The article says, “The social-news aesthetic that was once unique to Digg and a few other sites has now been co-opted by Facebook, which now offers “like” buttons that many publishers run alongside the Digg buttons that have been placed there for promotion for years; and TweetMeme, which aggregates Twitter links into a Digg-like interface.” Simply put, other websites were doing what Digg originally set out to do, and they were doing it better than Digg.

It’s amazing to think that in 2008 Digg was up for sale for a potential $200 million to Google, who never acted upon the deal. In July of 2012, a big chunk of Digg was sold to Betaworks for $500,000…that’s $199,500,000 less than it was valued four years ago. A combination of a shoddy website update, bad implementation of social media integration, and a desperate attempt to distinguish itself from its competitors spelled the end for Digg, once the darling of the internet community. StumbleUpon faced a similar fate due to Facebook’s “Like” buttons, but that company is still commanding a large section of the internet.

Reddit was the overwhelming victor after the demise of Digg. In 2012, the website had 37 billion page views and 400 million unique visitors. 30 million posts were written, and 4 billion votes were cast on posts over the past year. Through its subreddit communities, users are able to connect with like-minded individuals and can enjoy their interests with others. In addition, the r/IAmA (The “I Am A _____” subreddit) has brought in a lot of celebrities who have wanted to connect with the Reddit community, most importantly President Obama (that day, 4.4 million unique visitors visited Reddit).

The story of Digg is the story of a company who had it all and lost it all in a span of eight years. For other companies, Digg can serve as a reminder that bad decision making and the alienation of a loyal user base can ruin a company’s chances of surviving in an age where users, not corporations, can decide a website’s fate in a flash.

 

Main source for the timeline at the beginning: Mashable’s “A Brief History of Digg”


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