Back from vacation, done with Digg

Vacation recap
Hi everyone—sorry for the lack of updates, ever since I got back from my *wonderful* vacation in California, I’ve been swamped with work. Same ol’ story, eh?

You can see some of my vacation photos here: San Francisco & the Bay Area, Pacifica, I-5 North, and Long Beach & Los Angeles. Up top is one of my favorite shots from Pacifica, just south of San Francisco. (see:Pacifica pier)

I got an exclusive tour of the Googleplex, too, but of course no photos were allowed. Said hi to the guys working on Google Maps, got a free lavender melon milkshake, played some old school arcade games, saw the dinosaur skeleton, even checked out the on-site gym. It’s as cool a corporate campus as everyone says it is. Definitely made going back to the ol’ cube a little more difficult—good thing I love my job ;)

And yes, for anyone wondering, the S.K.I.N. concert at Anime Expo was as amazing as I’d hoped. OK, it was several hours late and I got a severe sunburn from waiting in line to see it, but still it was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life. You can’t top being 10 feet away from some of your favorite musicians ever. After nearly a decade of seeing those guys on a TV of computer screen, the first thing I thought when I was right in front of Gackt was “damn, the framerate on this is really high…” Once a geek, always a geek.

I’ll link a more formal review of the concert a little later, but a brief review will be in the summer issue of purple SKY magazine for those of you that subscribe, and there will be a follow-up article on the four main musicians of S.K.I.N. on SKIN-Online soon (I’m a staff writer for them now, too!) Major congratulations to the SKINOnline team, which worked tirelessly at this year’s Anime Expo to get the word out about the band and the fansite, they did a fantastic job.

A special thanks to Misha of the SKINOnline team for inviting me to co-host a Japanese rock panel, it was both fun and nerve-wracking to be an “authority” on Japanese rock music in front of a room of curious listeners. Apparently I fooled some people into thinking I knew what I was talking about ;) Still, I wish I had some photos of the panel—if you have any, please send them my way.

While at Anime Expo, I also got to meet pop-rock star Anna Tsuchiya (the singing voice of Nana!) as I attended/recorded/asked questions at her press conference. She’s a fascinating person, very sophisticated, engaging, and spunky. I didn’t know much about her before Anime Expo but now I’m a fan. She really is an artist to watch with a very interesting story.

Digg dismay

I just thought I’d chime in with a growing number of news aggregator users and say that I’m quitting Digg. Not that anyone will miss me, and not that my departure will in any way harm the growth of this otherwise extraordinary tool, but I thought I’d take a moment to explain my decision.

I’ve been using Digg for over a year now, since March ’06. The quality of stories hitting the frontpage has decreased gradually as the site has gained in popularity. In the past few months I’ve removed political pages from my site preferences, just to be spared the endless political flamewars, but this hasn’t filtered out all the bile. Here’s a blog post that gets right to it: Digg marred by racism, sexism.

I was pretty proud that I held out for so long, over a year even, and just brushed off some of the dumber front page items without second thought. I’m not a PC soldier, so jokes at women’s expense about bad driving habits or garrulousness don’t bug me. (After all, in closed quarters women make jokes about male habits as well.) By no means am I an internet toughguy, but I’m not a total lightweight when it come to internet, er, misbehavior, either.

Spend a few minutes reading the comments on Digg, and you’ll see high-voted comments that go well beyond the pale, that no one I know, male or female, even in private company, would find funny.

After one post too many in this vein, I’ve decided it’s time to leave this site behind me, despite its great premise and fantastic potential. A year ago, I was really excited about what Digg could do, but truly the declining quality and maturity of its userbase is dragging the rest of the site down with it.

Let me make this clear: I do not advocate censorship by any means, so I would never call for action to be taken to stop people from commenting or submitting stories worded as they wish. (Google “misogyny on digg” and you can see that some folks have already tried.) And yes, the internet is full of bored, anonymous folks who take out their passive-aggression on the world by trolling or spewing hate. This is how the internet has been and always will be, and I won’t be a crusader in trying to fight that, as it’s an un-winnable battle.

The Digg system works in that people vote up or down comments they agree with; however, a site where gross (and incorrect!) generalizations about race, gender, nationality or political affiliation get hundreds of thumbs up of support is not one I want to visit.

I say this as a word of caution to many publications that seek to drive traffic to their websites by gaming the Digg system. Granted, Digg traffic is a boon to ad revenue, but do you really want your content associated with a site whose userbase approves of a story called “Tell girls to shut up, it’s good for them“? Associating with this in a business setting is not only very inappropriate, it’s damaging.

So before jumping headlong into the joys of news aggregators and the mystique of Web 2.0, consider carefully the potential audience you’re working to attract.