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Digg Life: How Social Media Will Change the World

Digg Life: How Social Media Will Change the World
News

    With a very simple concept, Digg.com has changed the fundamental nature of the news media and how millions of people access information. Digg (and its fellow social media sites) democratized the media, and wrenched control of what gets read from the gatekeepers of print and broadcast corporations and gave it to the people. Now, argue about whether this is good or bad, but it’s now a fact of life.

    And someday soon this concept will spread to just about every area of our lives, from politics to entertainment to business to … you name it.

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    Get ready for the democratization of everything, like it or not.

    What Digg Did

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    Digg

      Before we can see how the concept of social media will spread to other areas of life, let’s take a look at what has happened, and why it’s so important.

      In the days before Digg and friends, how did we access news? Through newspapers, magazines, radio and television. And who decided what news there was to access? Editors, and their bosses, publishers and corporations. To some extent — the extent that we still access new through traditional media — this still happens. A small few controls the gates of information to the masses.

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      But then social media came along, just within the last few years, and the gates broke open. Now, the traditional media still covers the news … but now many, many people don’t read or watch the stories through the traditional media outlets. They go to Digg, and see what’s hot. If there’s a story that sounds interesting, we click on the link and read or watch it.

      And who decides what’s hot? The masses. And what’s more, it’s no longer the traditional media stories that are hot. Everyday writers, the bloggers and You Tube masters of the world, can be just as popular as the Dan Rathers and Tom Brokaws. Getting information to the masses depends on how good you are, not who you know.

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      Digg story

        How Our Lives Will Become Dugg
        Corporate media is not the only area of life where a small few control the gates of information for the masses — it happens everywhere. The powerful concept of social media will break open those gates — maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. It’s inevitable, as once someone decides to offer a Digg-like site for other areas of life, people will undoubtedly want to be in control of their information, and would never give it back to the gatekeepers.

        What areas of life will be affected? Here are just a few examples:

        • Music: Controlled right now by corporate production companies and distributors, and fed to us by radio stations and music television (MTV, et. al.), music is already becoming freer through peer-to-peer networks. Though the legal battles will continue for years, because of the huge amount of money involved, it is impossible to catch and prosecute every person who downloads music. The business structure of the music industry is already changing, and will eventually change completely. But who will decide what music is popular? The masses, through a Digg-like social interface. And it will be open to all musicians, not just ones with record deals.
        • Movies: Also controlled by corporate production and distribution systems, movies are already becoming socialized through sites like You Tube. Soon DVDs will become obsolete as entire movies become distributed through You Tube-like sites, and the popularity of movies becomes Digg-like. And as more filmmakers turn to self-publishing on the Internet, just as writers do on blogs, it will no longer require a production and distribution company will millions of dollars to make a successful film.
        • TV shows: Same as movies.
        • Politics: But our government is already democratized, right? Sure. We elect officials every two or four years, but who votes on each individual proposal? The gatekeepers. A Digg.gov site will allow the masses to decide on issues, rather than having politicians do it for us. And those who are afraid of the masses deciding on issues are not truly in favor of a democratic government.
        • Marketplace: Who controls what clothes are available to us? Clothing companies and department stores. Social media can change that — imagine a digital marketplace where you can go to see what clothes are hot. What about cars? Restaurants? Gadgets? Books? As you can probably tell, these things are already starting to happen with sites like Amazon and eBay.
        • Work: Who controls what work we do and how we get paid? Traditionally, the corporations and managers — the gatekeepers of decisions and money and information. But what if your work was run by a Digg-like site? Where business decisions, project decisions, pay and benefits and workplace environment decisions, were all made by the masses of the company? That’s hard to imagine in traditional companies. But consider that these days, many people are working remotely, as free-lancers or consultant or telecommuters. If work becomes less centralized, and more spread out and free (as in free-lance, not free beer), why does a central person or group of people need to control all decisions? If a group of free-lancers begins to democratize their work, this idea could have much more appeal than the traditional corporate structure … and once people have their work under their own control, they are less likely to want to go back under the control of the gatekeepers.

        These changes, again, won’t happen overnight. But the winds of change are already obviously blowing in this direction, and once people get a taste of freedom, they aren’t likely to want to stay under the control of a few.

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        Leo Babauta

        Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

        How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time The Gentle Art of Saying No Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials How to Pare Your To-do List Down to the Essentials

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        Last Updated on September 18, 2019

        How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

        How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

        Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

        I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

        One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

        Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

        The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

        And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

        What to Write Down

        Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

        Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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        Dates of Events

        Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

        For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

        Names of People

        Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

        Theories or Frameworks

        Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

        Definitions

        Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

        Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

        Arguments and Debates

        Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

        This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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        Images

        Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

        Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

        Other Stuff

        Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

        I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

        Your Own Questions

        Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

        3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

        You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

        1. Outlining

        Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

        Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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        For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

        2. Mind-Mapping

        For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

        Here’s the idea:

        In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

        The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

        If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

        You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

        3. The Cornell System

        The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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        About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

        You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

        In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

        You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

        The Bottom Line

        I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

        I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

        More About Note-Taking

        Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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