digg dugg, er, doggedly (sorry)

Sorry about that title. Couldn’t resist it. And yes, I sat here for a while trying hard to think of some more words but failed.

Digg Dugg…Anyway. Fascinating things going on over at Digg – probably more than fascinating; I’d guess we’ll look back and say groundbreaking, however it turns out.

Basically, someone on the Digg community posted the HD DVD encryption key (note how I’m sounding like I know what this is – in reality I can only guess that it’s really important, probably involves lots and lots of investment and has therefore really pissed some rich people off by appearing in public..).

Shortly afterwards, Digg got a cease and desist from the rich, pissed-off people and decided to remove any posts which featured the key.

That’s when it really went ape – suddenly the community got wind of the deletion and before anyone could do anything, the entire Digg homepage was filled with posts and stories containing the key.

When Digg realised they couldn’t do anything (apart from turning the whole thing off OR losing any semblance of respect from their community by continuing deleting), founder Kevin Rose made the following announcement (with the key as part of the post title…) :

“…now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying…”

As of now, 22,235 people have Dugg this post. And an article about it was on the BBC homepage for a bit too.

It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see where this goes. If Digg goes down under an enormous lawsuit, where will the community go? Cos you can bet yer bottom dollar that they won’t just dissipate and shuffle back to their respective homes…

Lessons…Well, read the quantities of posts around the web for a better, more informed opinion on Digg and DRM…but:

  1. Web communities have enormous powers, and sometimes even the people who created the vision for those communities don’t understand how far-reaching that power can spread. If you’re going to dabble in democracy, be prepared to be overthrown
  2. Having a police state is probably easier than having a democracy…
  3. …but far less satisfying…
  4. People really, really, really don’t like DRM. It is living a short, painful, unsustainable life. Please let’s turn off the machine and leave it do die in peace…

Update: According to Boingboing, 36,000 pages are listed on Google that contain the DRM key. So much for keeping it under wraps…

6 thoughts on “digg dugg, er, doggedly (sorry)”

  1. Hi Mike,

    very fascinating, I followed it all day yesterday. It was also interesting to see how fast traditional media like the New York Times and FT responded to this. They have become real-time online media, much more adaptive and responsive than the tangible version they have always been.

    Do you have any idea what the consequences could be for museums?

    All the best,


  2. There’s another way to look at this of course. There’ve been comments that Digg is not expanding as they’d hoped, susceptible to ‘lowest common denominator’ popularity issues and too easy to spam. Thus, its future was kind of uncertain. This way, they gain maximum exposure – save the business model, or go down with the founders’ profiles raised high enough to attract funds for their next venture…
    Cynical, moi? All power to them, anyhow.

  3. Mike, just bought the latest edition of Open, a Dutch journal on art and the public domain (also available in English, http://www.skor.nl/set-635-en.html). This one is titled: Freedom of culture – “Regulation and privatization of intellectual property and public space.” Seems an interesting read.



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