Thing 12. Do You Digg?

In the “olden days,” reference and information staff would scan the headlines in local and national news sources for the latest in breaking news, government reports, or celebrity scandals in an effort to be one jump ahead of library users trying to find behind the headlines information. Now there are thousands of “new” news sources—not only mainstream media online, but Internet-only news/scandal sources, blogs, chats and more—to keep up with. What’s a person to do?

One way to see what people are interested in is to check out what's popular on social media sites that allow users to nominate and then “vote” for news and other items they find interesting. There are many of these sites—and everyone from mainstream media (for example, The New York Times,, and the Washington Post) to blogs and Web sites includes links so readers can recommend content from these sites to other readers. Look for boxes labeled “Share” or “Article Tools” on news sites, blogs, and Web pages to find links for sharing the article. These are examples:

Here are some of the popular sites:
  • Digg “is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web...You won’t find editors at [Digg]… provide[s] a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online.”
  • Reddit is a “source for what's new and popular on the web…We want to democratize the traditional model by giving editorial control to the people who use the site, not those who run it.”
  • Newsvine lets “ stories from established media organizations…as well as individual contributors ... Placement of stories is determined by a multitude of factors including freshness, popularity, and reputation... editorial judgement (sic) is in the hands of the community.”
  • Mixx “is your link to the web content that really matters. There's a lot of information out there… And who knows better than you what informs you, what makes you think, what makes you laugh? So why should some faceless editor get to decide what's important?”
See a theme here? No editors to decide what information is important, user-generated content, reader recommendations/sharing, and you and others get to vote on what makes the top lists—the very definition of Web 2.0.

And it can affect libraries—top stories/recommendations will drive reference questions and resource requests. Love it or hate, it pays to be in the know.

In this Thing, learn more about the four social media sites mentioned. Then read an article and recommend it to others via the site you choose to use.

1. Explore the sites above to see how each is organized and operates.

2. Read one or more stories on a news/information site (for example, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC News, or another site) and then recommend it via the Share tools.

There are other sites like these, too, including StumbleUpon, which focuses on Web sites. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Del.ic.ious offer this sort of news/site recommendation, too.

Blog Prompts
  • How do you think you can use these tools in your library or at home?
  • Do these tools seem to be a productivity enhancer or a productivity detractor?
  • Have you ever read a story/item as a result of seeing it on one of these sites?

Challenge (optional)
Dig deeper into these social media sites by creating an account in one or more of them. Each site offers suites of tools that allow you to comment, chat, create your own news column, and more. Having an account lets you be a participatory member of that community.
1. Create the account(s) and explore the tools.
2. Blog about the various tools and any uses you see for your library or media center. Let us know what you do!

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