Digg into Perpetual Beta

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The concept of Perpetual beta, coined by Tim O’reilly within the explanation of one Web2.0 pattern, end of software release cycle , describes as software becomes ongoing services, “the product is developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis”, and “engage your users to be real-time testers, and structure the service to reveal how people use your product”.

Being as the once wildly popular social news website, Digg had experienced both the high time with numerous copycat websites featuring its story submitting and voting system, and also the disastrous user revolt toward its notorious release of Digg v4, and followed by  dramatic decline in web traffic and fierce competition from Facebook.

After the acquisition by Betawork, Digg had its second act successfully regain popularity among social news community by rebuilding the website from scratch. Through the launch of Rethinkdigg.com, digg invited users to participate in the decision of user interface design and user experience by answering the survey. Based on user’s idea, the new digg v1 came back with newspaper-like front page and more images, new story ranking system integrating Tweets and Facebook likes, to be counted with its traditional thumb-ups, “diggings”.

Critical Success Factor comes from frequent and early release

Through its nine-year long run, Digg has its new version released almost every year between 2004 to 2007. however, despite the “extensive overhaul in 2010“, it took nearly 3 years for Digg to introduce version4, which was, eventually proved to be an death knell for Digg. Luckily enough, Digg got a second life and came back to the market after 6 weeks sprint transformation by the new team. The new team plays well with the concept of Perpetual Beta by frequently introducing new features and fixing bugs almost every week, and so do its mobile apps.

Actively engage users in the development and test cycles

The new Digg team is very keen on extracting the “Digg experience” from its users. Even for the new Digg Reader, users are invited to have their says and participates in the decision of core features and UI. Since only users know what kind of service and features can meet their need, the developer can rarely go wrong if following closely with user requirements and expectations. Plus users can perform the task to test the platform, in real time, and feedback straight away. Thus the process is shorten and the efficiency is improved.

My suggestions for Digg:

Capture the implicit facts that users interact with Digg

I got to admit that the new Digg team really has done a good job by getting Digg back to the old good times. And indeed, surveys and questionnaires do offer a lot of essential information about user experience and provide directions for improvement. However, what users do often tells more than what they say: according to Digg’s survey about what topics that users enjoy to read most, the result is as follows:

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However, the statistics measured by SimilarWeb, suggest another thing:

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Interestingly, part of the users who visit Digg also like adult websites. But the option is not even on the list of hot topics voted by the users. Apparently observing user behaviour and capturing the implicit usage data can reveal more facts and possible approach to boost website traffic.

Right before the new Digg team started to launch the overhaul, they conducted a survey and which indicated a stark statistic that: 92% of Digg users would NOT recommend Digg to friends. And straight after the big triumph they made, they happily reported that according to the survey done after the relaunch, now 81% respondents said they would recommend Digg to a friend. But, why can’t they just add a feature like “invite your friends to Digg together” and see how many users actually do it? Maybe the survey is simply an indicate of user satisfaction, but I believe there exist more user behaviour facts awaiting Digg to “dig out” and act on it. In order to compete with Reddit, SlashdotStumbleUpon and other social news websites, Digg still have a long way to go.

Reference List:

SXSW: Digg’s Big Redesign Taps Into Social Web
* Digg – Yes, That Digg – Is Building A Google Reader Replacement, Complete With API
* New Digg Vs. Reddit Vs. BuzzFeed: Your Mind On Viral Content
* Digg’s replacement for Google Reader due in June; might cost money
* What is Web2.0? – Page 4,  End of Software Release Cycle

How Second life Harness Collective Intelligence

Source: http://www.empowernetwork.com/dreamer12/files/2013/02/virtualclassroom2.jpg

I was attending a virtual lecture offered by Stanford University, then the next second I teleported myself to a spectacular 3D medieval castle created by users like me; wondering if I should purchase the dress I just saw in a virtual shop and have my hair done for the upcoming party tonight. And all these activities are taken place in the 3D virtual platform, Second Life.

As described clearly in Tim O’Reilly‘s book, Web2.0 Principles and Best Practices,
customer contribution is one of the six key market drivers of Web 2.0. And the core pattern related to customer contribution is successfully harnessing collective intelligence.

Being designed to be non-linear and to immensely depend on collective intelligence, Second Life has effectively attracted and built a huge global user base with a focus on providing user-generated, community-driven experience.

Basically, almost all the objects in Second Life including buildings, plants, landscape and even clothes and avatars, are created or modified by users like you and me. All the contents are generated, maintained and enjoyed by every user with high degree of control. The platform developer, Linden Lab, assures that users retain the copyright for any content they create, and the contents can even be traded using virtual currency in Second Life.

Being launched since 2003, Second Life has sufficiently illustrated how to harness and magnify collective intelligence by applying the following practices:

  1. Reward the user first

    First of all, Second Life has minimized the hassle of adoption to new beginners. Registration only takes two steps by selecting desired avatar and inputting basic personal details. Though users still need to download and install the 3D software to launch Second Life, the process is far more easier comparing to other games or websites.

  2. Set network effects by default

    All the contents generated in Second life are byproducts of users pursuing their self-interests: fashion designers seeking a space to showcasing their works, and even gaining rewards; architects can easily build up their dream buildings beyond the limitation of reality; amateur musicians host their own concerts and release virtual albums, etc. Through event highlights and community, individual user’s impact has further been maximized and enhanced.

  3. Involve users explicitly and implicitly

    Second Life has created a virtual platform for users to contribute both explicitly and implicitly. Either you can be an active participant by constantly produce meaningful contents, such as running a virtual shop selling your creations or hosting interesting events. Or you can simply be a user, by participating or even just browsing the virtual activities, you still contribute to this virtual community implicitly.

  4. Provide a meaningful context for creation

    The main motivation for users to actively generate something in Second Life is the desire of self-expression. Users can achieve their dreams or try out the possibility with lower cost and risk than in their real lives. Second Life has successfully created the space for imagination and inspiration.

  5. Trust your users: share control

    Second Life users enjoy high degree of control over every aspect, from virtual property design to the movement of avatar. Linden Scripting Language allows users to add interactivity to the objects while most of the contents can even been made by external softwares and imported into Second Life.

  6. Facilitate emergence

    As a result of investors meeting, the collaborative and creative potential has shifted the initial Second Life from object-driven, game-focus, to a more user-generated and community-driven platform.

References:

1. What Is Web 2.0-Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, by Tim O’Reilly, 30/09/2005

2. “Collective Intelligence”, by Pierre Levy, Michael Nielsen, May 23, 2010

3. Collaboration and Collective Intelligence, summary of international conference, MIT5, April 27, 2007

4. How Facebook Graph Search might affect Second Life Residents, by Strawberry Singh, February 7, 2013

5. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage, by Axel Bruns

 


 

From Huffington Post to My 7 Blogging Strategies

My 7 Blogging Strategies

My 7 Blogging Strategies

Got inspired by The Hoffington Post

Browsing my favourite blogs is one of my must-do of a day. Normally I spend about 5 minutes choosing several interesting new articles from Google reader and then read through and sometimes leave my comments. Recently I started to follow some bloggers on The HuffingtonPost since the viewpoints they share and illustrate often hit, and somehow inspire and encourage me to think and respond.

The Huffington Post was founded by Arianna Huffington in May 2005 as a left-leaning commentary blog. It has successfully built up an active community which includes a core group of bloggers from celebrities, scholars, politicians and numerous specialists, interacting and co-creating the contents with huge amounts of readers, contributing more than one million comments made every month.

    What interests me most

      is the concept of curation.

        Curation

Web 2.0 results in the vast amount of information and contents generated by users while the trend in web3.0 would be the data-content curation, the process of gathering, selecting and extracting huge amount of information contents on the Internet, and presenting in a useful and organized manner.

The Huffington Post fully utilizes the advantage of user-generated contents through applying reliable curation process to produce SEO-friendly outcomes which not only attract huge amount of readers but also facilitate building up the interactive community.

    Everyone wants to tell a story

The idea of Off-the-bus reporter is another interesting success of The Huffington Post, by which the concept of Web2.0 is perfectly practiced through the fact that every audience can participate in the process of knowledge/information creation and dissemination. The contribution and interaction between users and curators thus reveal a fact that, users not only like to read stories, they want to tell stories as well. How to build up and maintain the active community is the key to a successful blog.

    So now…the strategies

The purpose of my blog is to practice content curation through the research of enterprise 2.0 related materials, and further experiment on building up an active community which encourage co-contribute to this blog. Inspired by The Huffington Post and other successful blogs, I would like to apply following strategies on blogging:

1. Choose Target Audience

Clarifying the target audience is very important since it helps to determine the blog contents and build up specific readership. Once the target audience is chosen, make sure the articles and contents are in accordance with the expectation and requirement of target audience.

2. Curation

Through wide reading and research, then combine with my personal opinions to generate and extract interesting and meaningful contents which can invite further discussion or reflection.

3. Short & Concise Content

Effectively convey the idea with short and concise sentences, together with charts or pictures clearly expressed and presented in the manner which makes it easier for reader to comprehend.

4. Utilize Social Media

In Web3.0, user-generated contents could be synchronously updated and disseminated through different platforms such as FacebookTwitterPlurkDigg, etc. Through the integration of sharing function it allows the content to be seen through numerous channels.

5. Listen to my Audience

Applying web analytics tools such as Google AnalyticsSite Meter to help me understand what exactly interests the audience and further emphasis on the specific content which is more SEO friendly and at the meanwhile invites readers to comment.

6. Monitor Blogosphere

An active blogging community can be achieved through establishing connection with similar blogs and groups. Regularly and actively share or comment on related blogs will facilitate exposing your blog, building up blog traffic, and further creating an blogging community.

7. Encourage Call-to-Action

The exact call to action that I would like the users to respond can be simply defined as commenting or sharing the contents of my blog. So how to write inspiring and interesting articles with my curation from other readings is very essential for building up and maintaining readership.

It can also be an opportunity for me to practice my critical and independent thinking upon materials related to Enterprise 2.0.What I would like to focus on is the trend and interesting idea related to Web3.0 and Enterprise 2.0, and I will adjust my blogging strategies in responding to the outcomes with time.

Please feel free to leave your comments which I believe will actively inspire both of us. 🙂

References:

1. 5 Social Media Marketing Myths: Busted! 

2. Design: 10 techniques for an effective ‘call to action’

3. How to Develop a Blogging Strategy