I have read today in TechCrunch that Digg is going through very difficult times and that the number of users has gone down by 30% in recent months.
For those who have not heard about Digg before, Digg is a service that aggregates priorized blogs posts taking into account users’ votes. That is, when a user likes a post, he can link it into Digg. Then, depending on whether other people vote for it or not, the post rises its position. Digg has been one of the most rewarding ways to retrieve the work of a blogger worldwide, because of the increase of blog visitors that a good position of a post in Digg can bring. Meneame in Spain was created following the basic outline of Digg.
This lost of users suggests that the blog phenomenon is waning. Where have all these people gone? The explanation appears to be in the same Techcrunch story, that states that even Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, seems to be decreasing his use of Digg, and yet is 26 times more active on Twitter.
Can we infere that people are migrating from blogs to microblogs from these facts?
I have no data, and at first it might look like that. People can be migrating to Twitter because now it is the most “in” online service. However, I think that what is really happening is simply that Twitter gives the reader more freedom than Digg or Meneame. In those models, it is the group “as a whole” who decides what is worth reading or not. With Twitter it is you who decide whom to follow and whom not (often following the advice of your inner circle), or what issues interest you in the “real time”.
You could think that people prefer to retweet instead of creating new contents (blogs). Retweets are faster, simpler, and can produce similar or better relevance in the network. However I think content providers are still there, working in their blogs, which allow them to express their ideas in more than 140 characters. Twitter is, however, the new way of linking content suppliers and consumers.
Is Digg or Meneame going to disappear? That’s saying a lot. However, what is clear is that they are finding a great competition with Twitter nowadays. They still have the key advantage that they are ideal for comfortable readers who just want to receive passively new relevant posts. However, they have the disadvantage of having a smaller potential audience, which can lead “professional raters” (who only seek personal relevance), move into Twitter.