An Open Letter to Alexis Ohanian (Reddit Co-founder)

Alexis your recent blog post to Kevin Rose re: Digg struck a wrong chord with me. For those not familiar with what he is talking about, a new video giving details about upcoming changes for Digg version 4 was released today.

I can see how on the surface these changes look like a clone of other more popular features, but I suspect you might be mis-interpreting what’s happening here.

Yes, many of the features look and feel like competitors. But so does the iPod. It plays mp3s? Yuck! So does Rhapsody’s player, why would I want one from Apple. So does a Mercedes/BMW, it has wheels + an engine.

The issue is the way it does what it does. I have not used it just yet, but from what I have seen, this could fundamentally be as much of a game changer as the first version of digg was to giving individual publishers a bigger voice.

Imagine…now, as a publisher, I have 200 ‘followers’ whose sole interest is in seeing the links/stories that I publish. Jason Fried talks about building an audience. So far, there is no other tool that ‘aggregates’ all your content and pushes it directly to an audience like digg v4 is suggested to do.

People use Twitter to do this, but it wasn’t built to do that. It was built for messages of 140 characters. Valuable in it’s own right, but not as a ‘media publishing’ tool.

People use status updates on Facebook to do that, but it wasn’t made for that. It was made to update friends on your latest activities (i.e. uploaded new videos/photos, add new quotes, friended new people, got engaged/married….other things that your social graph might find of value).

But for publishers trying to build an audience, there isn’t one tool that allows an audience to ‘subscribe’ to everything of interest to them.Yes, you can have a blog with an RSS feed. Your twitter feed has an RSS feed, etc. But RSS feed readers suck!

The mere fact that I can have one place, that streamlines all of the links published by people I am interested in hearing from + links they found interesting, is absolutely game-changing (in my opinion).Ofcourse, it all comes down execution, but based on what I am seeing, I think I see Kevin back in his original form. Quite contrary to your assertion about pandering to his VCs, I don’t see any evidence of driving revenues. I see mainly product development. I see small UI elements that seem to enhance the link discovery process. I see giving value to small-time publishers and further ‘democratization’ of news.

So while I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I would caution us all to wait and see how it unfolds, and actually use it - before casting judgement. Many high profile people have done that recently and have had to do mea cuplas.

Maybe I am biased, because I am one of those that submit stories that stall or get a handful of diggs. This looks like it could be a significant game changer for me. Maybe it won’t guarantee all my stories will make it to the front page, but I would not be surprised if my content got easily 200% - 800% more traffic, as a direct result of this change.

THAT…would be game changing.