Digg, the social news site that was once the darling of tech-loving web users everywhere, has faced a rapid decline in interest as the rest of the Web grew up and it remained relatively slow and impersonal.
Today the site added a big new feature it thinks could help: a highly customizable, real time Newswire. Want to see the freshest videos about technology that have been validated enough to get 10 or more Diggs but aren't so popular that they've been dugg more than 50 times? Text posts about business with more than 50 Diggs? Those kinds of views are now easy to set up and read in real time. That's just one of several several big new features that went live on the site this morning.
Long a subject of controversy, there's now a new level of visibility into who has voted to bury a story, when the burying is done in the Newswire. Votes up and down performed in the more transparent Newswire environment now carry more weight than votes performed elsewhere on the site, too.
"Over the coming weeks and months," writes Digg's Will Larson (formerly of Yahoo BOSS) in the announcement, "the core ideas (rewarding transparency, showing real-time content and activity, increasing visibility of how actions impact story ranking) will be spreading across the rest of Digg."
Those are fundamental changes to the way news is shared. Where else online can readers exercise this degree of granular control over what parts of the social stream they want to read? Twitter Lists, perhaps, but the criteria there are qualitative, not quantitative like this. Where else online does content sharing come with extra benefits if you're willing to attach your name to it? And where, other than on Facebook and Twitter - two sites that aren't really about news consumption per se - do updates get pushed to the reader in real time?
Nowhere I can think of. I think these are very interesting new features in the social news world.
I was able to find a lot of content using this system that I was genuinely excited to see uncovered.
Can feature changes like this turn the tide of declining traffic? Maybe. If it works, it will likely catch much of the tech media by surprise. Today's Newsfeed announcement was made five hours ago, and I saw coverage of it exactly nowhere, until coming across an article by Lucy Gee on the blog Walyou this afternoon.
Below, a very cool looking TED Talk video that I found by tweaking the new settings on the Newswire today. Thanks Digg!