Digg vs. Netscape, Kevin vs. Jason, Web 2.0 vs. commercial Internet

Web 2.0 Social Web stars, and runner-ups, are known by their colorful leaders as much as by their cool free-to-consumer services. Two of those colorful leaders are engaging in a public “debate

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Web 2.0 Social Web stars, and runner-ups, are known by their colorful leaders as much as by their cool free-to-consumer services.

Two of those colorful leaders are engaging in a public “debate”: Kevin Rose, Digg and Jason Calacanis, Netscape.

Rose is synonymous with Digg and Calacanis is now synonymous with Netscape.

Rose’s rise to prominence reflects what I call the “20-something weekend software developer” Web 2.0 start-up route (see “Web 2.0 financial success: Easy as 'two weeks and $700 bucks'?” and “Memo to Web 2.0 VCs: What happened to Doriot's rules?”)

Calacanis’ prominence reflects years of street-wise, business savvy targeting of the entrepreneurial “brass ring.”

Rose champions a “pure” social Web 2.0, Calacanis champions a “pure” commercial Internet.

Rose posted an open letter to Calacanis yesterday:

Ya see users like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations.

Calacanis wrote earlier:

Of course, the Web 2.0 elite want to make the decision for social bookmarkers--and for me and my company Netscape. How dare we offer people money for their work?!?!!? How dare these people get paid for their time!??!?!

In “Web 2.0 pay for play: payola, or transparency?” I discuss how untoward manipulation of Digg taints the notion of “true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations” and put forth that “upfront payment for content generated at Web 2.0 Social Web properties such as Digg or Wikipedia may, in fact, make the information presented at the sites more transparent and trustworthy”:

We live in a world propelled by “spin” and driven by opaque, financially motivated relationship webs.

From corporations motivated by profits, to not-for-profits with missions to “do good,” and from governments serving citizens, to universities at the service of research, activities occuring at organizations of all types, including Web 2.0 Social Web properties, often involve non-transparent methods to gain profits, garner influence or further agendas…

Rather than the Web's “newspaper,” Digg is feeling more and more like the Web’s self-promotional tool.

I quote a commenter at Calacanis.com in: “Social Web: microcosm of 'real world' social, and anti-social, behavior”:

“What a lot of people out there want is traffic. And a lot of people are submitting their own content to places like digg, reddit, netscape, etc. Perhaps you could capitalize on this need for people have to get traffic. Some people out there complain or get annoyed when a story is submitted and it doesn't go to the original source. I say who cares. If I find a good story and put a better spin on it, then screw it…I get the traffic. What I want is traffic.

Well really..I want money.”

Digg “stories” are often self-submitted by authors and then actively “voted on” by collaborative self-promoting teams.

Additionally, such collaborative efforts may include “sabotage” against “competing” stories legitimately posted by Digg contributors without agendas. Sabotage tactics include “bury” and negative comment campaigns.

I conclude:

Perhaps upfront, fully disclosed payments to Web 2.0 contributors would dampen subterfuge currently transpiring at popular Web 2.0 properties.

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