Slashdot, probably the most well-known technology news website, is celebrating its 15th birthday. I can’t say that I’ve been reading it for 15 years (yet), but I’m pretty close. If I remember correctly, Vladimir showed it to me some time back in 1998-1999. I’ve followed it since.
Even today, with all the multitude of tech blogs and news outlets, Slashdot is still important to me. While you can get the same kind of news elsewhere, the discussions are still the reason to go back. Some are funny, some are obligatory, but mostly are insightful comments that show the original article’s problem space from different perspectives.
Happy birthday, Slashdot!
Catching up with Slashdot today, I read about Digg.com being sold to Betaworks:
The once popular social news website Digg.com, which received $45 million in funding, is being sold to to Betaworks for $500,000. From the article: ‘Betaworks is acquiring the Digg brand, website, and technology, but not its employees. Digg will be folded into News.me, Betaworks’ social news aggregator. This is not the outcome people expected for Digg. In 2008, Google was reportedly set to buy it for $200 million.
This brings back a lot of memories. Back when Digg.com started, it became a “big thing” almost instantly. There was plenty of hype around it, and many people went as far as predicting the death of Slashdot. Digg was supposed to be some sort of new and better Slashdot. But when I tried using Digg.com, I immediately thought that that was not the case.
The two sites are very different. One of the most obvious difference is that Slashdot is more focused on the technology, and Digg covers pretty much everything and anything. But that wasn’t the most important difference for me. The most important for me was that Slashdot seems to be focused around discussions and commentary, while Digg.com was just a delivery system for the news articles. And even back then there were numerous resources where you could find news. Finding the news hasn’t been the problem for years. But finding good commentary and discussions has always been. And still is.
Slashdot comments were and still are its greatest value. Digg had discussions as well, but somehow they weren’t as valuable. And if I think about it for a second, for me personally, the greatest value of Digg was not the actual site Digg.com, but the Diggnation show. Which, once again, provided commentary and discussions of the top stories from Digg.com. Too bad that is discontinued now as well.
Here is something that touched and moved every geek out there:
Adrian Hands was suffering from ALS and had lost motor skills when he used his legs to type in Morse code and fix a 9-year-old bug in Gnome. The patch was submitted three days before he passed away.
I think the following comment does the best job expressing the feeling:
There are so many who benefit from the community, and so relatively few who give back. So many people claim some excuse to not contribute anything to anybody without getting paid. Then there’s this guy. I am honored to have shared a planet with him.
There is a rather serious article on Slashdot about unprepared minds being traumatized when working as a content moderator. There are a lot of sick people around, when they fancy their fancies, any sane person should be as far as possible. But that understanding is always easy coming. As it is often said: “Some things cannot be unseen”, and you should think carefully before agreeing to see such things.
On a lighter note, with a subject like this, Slashdot is pretty much guaranteed to have some funny comments. Here is one that made me smile:
The problem is that most 20 year old kids don’t really know how sensitive they are to things like this until they’re repeatedly exposed to them, by which point much of the damage has already been done. Luckily for me, I was exposed to the Internet and all of the nastiness on it when I was only 13, and I’ve managed to get by with no ill effects at all except for the occasional extended blackout followed by a dead hooker in my bed. Some more sensitive people might really lose their minds, though.
TIME Online Edition runs an excellent article on blogging. This 4 page piece covers everything from reasons to blog and blog history to blog effects on mass media and blog communities.
It even links to Slashdot a couple of times. :)