Selling Out The Cool Chaos

Netscape’s (via Webloginc) Jason Calacanis has put forth an offer to effectively pay the most active users on Digg, Newsvine, Reddit and the like to post at least 150 link stories up per month on Netscape’s Digg-ripoffinspired site. It’s worth noting that Netscape is seeing nowhere near as much activity as Digg currently enjoys.
It’s a good idea. Calacanis brings a street smart, Brooklyn attitude to the conversation. I’m a Brooklyn native myself and I often bring that realistic pragmatism to my thinking. Mr. Calacanis is right: everyone’s gotta eat. A couple of thoughts:
The idealist in me really loves the organic qualities of Digg. I have a friend that works in a public relations firm and she tells me they’re absolutely terrified of sites like Digg. They would never go near them because they fear getting “found out.” Digg is in many ways an antidote to the existing top-down PR/marketing aparatus. It introduces chaos – a cool chaos – and somehow, order comes of it. By formalizing and paying certain people to do the work, you’re transforming this energetic source of ideas and energy and turning it into…yet another content site. In other words, part of Digg’s charm is it’s anarchy (even if it’s not really anarchy). It’s not a PR firm. It’s not a traditional portal site beholden to a massive media conglomerate. It’s loved because it’s not all those things.
Maybe I’m just being sentimental. It’s sort of like when you’re annoyed that your favorite band (that you’re quick to point out that you discovered) finally “sold out” and signed up with a major record label. Next stop: Starbucks compilation CD’s.
The only other point I’d make is that it’s hard to replace motivation and keep the purity of why people do things. I’m all for capitalism but when you replace one motive (a love of sharing things and getting acknowledgement from others) with another (money), something is compromised.
Or is it?

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