As betaworks and Digg both announced on their blogs, we are taking over Digg and turning it back into a startup. What they didn’t mention is that we’re rebuilding it from scratch. In six weeks.

On August 1, after an adrenaline and caffeine-fueled six weeks, we’re rolling out a new v1. With this launch, we’re taking the first step towards (re)making Digg the best place to find, read and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet — and we want your help.

 

Huh… who is “we”?
We’re a New York-based team of 10 engineers, designers, and editors. As a startup called News.me, we have been eating, drinking and dreaming news applications for the last couple of years, designing products for email, iPad and iPhone that help people find and read the stories shared by their friends on Twitter and Facebook.   

These principles are posted in our office, which is affectionately dubbed “The War Room”:

  1. We make it easy to find, read, and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet.
  2. The experience must be fast and thin. Let users go, and they will come back to you. We optimize for return visits, not pageviews per visit.
  3. Build an experience that is native to each device: smart phone, inbox, Web page. Stories must find the user, wherever they are.
  4. Users must be able to share where they and their friends already are — on networks like Facebook, Twitter and email.

We are a startup team with ambitious principles and we need to move quickly. The old Digg infrastructure was expensive and it afforded us little latitude to innovate and build at a fast clip. So four weeks ago, we set an a aggressive goal to move to a new infrastructure by August 1. We are starting with a fresh code base — it’s modern, it’s fast and it’s shiny and new.

Why did you acquire Digg?
When it launched in 2004, Digg was way ahead of its time. It illustrated a fact that, since then, Facebook and Twitter have driven home: that readers of news no longer just read, they participate; they no longer just consume, they create; that the traditional roles of the editor can be dispersed and democratized. Digg was new and it was different, and it was like nothing that had come before.

Here’s what some smart people have had to say about Digg in recent years:

“Digg has always represented the spirit of the early Web 2.0 movement to me. Facebook has never been the emblematic company of the Web’s mid-2000 resurgence, because it has always been such an outlier from the pack. But Digg – like Delicious, Six Apart, Flickr, YouTube and others – was one of those messy, risky companies founded at a time when no one was ready to believe in the Web again.”
Sarah Lacy, TechCrunch (now at PandoDaily)
“Digg was a pioneer that changed the media landscape not by creating anything, but instead by putting the people in charge of what was media. Like Flickr, it was a company that opened our eyes to the potential of the social web. It also reminded us that links are and will always be the atomic unit of the web…”
Om Malik, GigaOm

We acquired Digg because we all need a product to help find, read and understand what the Internet is talking about right now.

Why do you care? Why should I care?
We care because Digg represented the messiness of the Internet at its best. It showed us that, out of the noise and the clutter, between the lolcats and the Kim Kardashian stories, a passionate but uncoordinated group of strangers could come together to create something coherent and substantial. Alone, each of these individuals had no following, but together they were able to capture a global audience with stories that the mainstream media had mistakenly deemed unimportant. Digg is worth protecting. To do that, we need your help, your input and your support. 

Why is News.me the best team to do Digg’s rebuild?
We’ve spent the last few years building news applications, and diving deep into how and why people find, read, and talk about the news. And we’ve learned a lot.

We’ve learned that we need to approach the problem with fresh eyes. The reason we started with email, iPad, and iPhone applications was precisely because they constrained our design and forced us to challenge old assumptions.

We’ve learned that, at its best, content is a dynamic blend of smart algorithms, smart networks, and smart people.

We’ve learned that reading the news — from the breakfast table and the water cooler to the coffee shop — is nothing if not a social experience. The news influences how we interact with those around us; it shapes how we understand ourselves and our world.

We’ve also learned that we care about the same things that Digg has always cared about — delivering the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet. We have a lot to learn from Digg and the community behind it, and a lot of experimenting to do, and we’re chomping at the bit to get started.

Is the new Digg going to be a reskinned News.me?
Nope. We want to take what we’ve learned at News.me — delivering a personalized experience based on what your friends are sharing — and bring it to Digg. This will take some time, and we will want your input as we bring the best of these two products together.

How will Digg make money?
We won’t. Not yet. We have little time and fewer resources to focus on anything but the user, who is our first, second and third priority. We believe we can accomplish with ten great engineers and designers what other companies do with one hundred good ones and, by keeping our costs low, take our time to find a business model that does not disrupt or detract from the user experience.

What will happen to News.me?
News.me will continue to be available, and you can expect similar personalization from Digg in the next few months, but we will ultimately roll them into one product, under the Digg brand. That said, we won’t take anything away from the News.me experience until we can replace it with something better at Digg.

What if I don’t digg the Digg you launch on August 1?
We hope that you will see the upcoming launch as the beginning, not the end. This is the beginning of a new generation for Digg — a restoration of what was brilliant and disruptive and a reinvention of what was not.  

What if I have criticism or suggestions for you?
Let us know!
We want to hear from you: What did you love about Digg? What did you not love about Digg? What did it represent to you? Why did it matter? Let us know in our very first user survey

…but we also ask for your patience:
Building applications that can scale to millions of users takes a gargantuan effort, so we have to focus on only the most important features for launch. If we’re missing something on Day 1, hang in there and let us know about it. There will be a Day 10 and a Day 20 and a Day 100. Help us rebuild Digg.

Follow along @Digg and on Facebook. We’ll be back with more in the next few days.

Jake, Mike, and Justin

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