Social Media in Australia – Can the madness of crowds help sort the digital deluge?

Guest Post by Dan Walsh of Kwoff.com.au.

For some time I’ve straddled two digital worlds. My ‘hi geek’ dual monitor setup allows me to read my daily dose of Crikey on one screen and the constant stream of tech news from Digg.com on the other. One world is determined by an editor, the other by the wisdom/madness of crowds. I love both, and cant live without either.

I know I’m not alone.

Australians are serious contributors to, and consumers of, ‘Social News’ sites like Digg. They produce no actual content but act as a digital index that ranks submissions based on votes. Anyone can vote and people can submit whatever they like – blog, picture, video, mainstream news etc. The result is filtered content, ‘wheat from the chaff’ style; it helps sort through the deluge that is online content.

Equally, Australians have taken to new media sites such as Club Troppo and Crikey in droves, our online participation rate is high. Telstra bandwidth issues aside, we are excellent digital citizens.

However, the two worlds arent currently mixing all that well. If i try and apply Australian issues to offshore Social News sites we simply do not rate. Unless Kevin Rudd calls Barack Obama on a gold plated Iphone it doesnt cut thru.

Stephen Mayne and I spent some time discussing this earlier this year and lured Greg Barns on board to help us launch a local Social News experiment called www.kwoff.com.au.

The site has been up for the last month and has attracted some interesting items, users and content, but has a way to go. Club Troppo readers represent Australia’s digital ‘Upper Class’ and we’d love to see you throw a couple of suggestions/brickbats at us.

We hope to evolve the site as we try and position ourselves in a field of similar services, somewhere to the side of MySpace and slightly overlapping Facebook and Del.icio.us (note: i’m an avid del.icio.us user and think it serves Australian users well).

The exciting array of blogs and ezines that have arrived in recent years provide an original, alternative to mainstream news here in Australia. However, they can be hard to find for the uninitiated and time starved. Mainstream news sites, often variations on an AAP theme, provide the easy first and last option for many Australians. I’d like to blur the line between the two.

Social media can present a view of both worlds to those without the time to spend the day searching for interesting online content. Gems can be found on mainstream news sites but many more are buried in the blogosphere, Flickr, YouTube and the like. Collectively we hold the key.

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