Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Digg + Local Library Purchases

Digg + Local Library Purchases: "So here’s my idea: take the engine that runs Digg, the “social news” website, and repurpose it as a web application that allows library patrons to collectively decide which books the library system should purchase. Patrons would “login” to “LibraryDigg” with their regular library card number and password, and then could enter books, DVDs, etc. that they want opened up for consideration." [Distant Librarian]

What I really like about this idea is that this service would provide public feedback illustrating what the library community is interested in and what are their unmet desires. I'm positive that this sort of information would be of interest to more than librarians as in my library, one can always see users check out the responses on the library's complaints bulletin board (which one day I would love to put online like Carleton's Dear Library service.)

But I'm not sure that I would use the Digg engine. I check out Digg and Reddit frequently and its not exactly a secret that the system is constantly being gamed (e.g. "Garbage can be turned into oil through a green method. We dispose of enough garbage per year to create a years worth of usable oil! Why aren't we funding these guys millions! UP VOTE THIS!!").

Instead, I would be more inclined to use something more independent engine to determine popularity.
Digg's Design Dilemma - Bokardo : The result of all these factors is that Digg breaks the cardinal rule of voting: independence. As outlined in James Surowiecki’s book The Wisdom of Crowds, independence arises when a person makes a decision (votes, diggs) without the direct influence of others, on their own, by making up their own mind. Of course, there will always be influences on that decision…what others have said, where their political party is leaning, their current situation, but in the end they need to have the privacy of their vote. On Digg, no votes are private, and when you make them you can’t help but notice the way others are voting...
The voting on Digg is in contrast to a site like, where voting (saving a bookmark) is done more independently, often without having any idea whether or not someone else even viewed it, let alone voted on it... On, the main value is personal, as people use it to store bookmarks that are valuable to them. On Digg, the bookmarking utility is secondary to the voting, in both the interface and the wording used on the site.

This all being said, I do support the notion that a library community can be trusted to select some of the materials that can be found in *their* library.

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