I'm a long time Digg user and I'd have to say its one of the sites I use most often. There is no better news aggregation site to find new articles and discus them (in my opinion). For those that don't know, Digg is a website where links are submitted and voted on by the users, the highest rated of which appear on the front page which everyone sees. Just recently Digg has released an alpha version of the revamp they have planned for the site at new.digg.com, dubbed Digg 4. I'm going to quickly go through a few of the changes.
Firstly, the most obvious change is a cosmetic one. Everything looks a lot cleaner, theres a lot less green and a lot more white. You could say it looks more like Facebook. The older site is on the left, the newer on the right.
Overall I'd say I much prefer the new look. There's a lot less ads too, although I'm not sure how long that will be true for.
The next big obvious change is in the fundamental way the front page ranking system works. When you open up Digg 4 you are greeted by the all new My News section. My News has more in common with Facebook or Twitter than the old style Digg, it shows stories that your friends have dug up or submitted rather than the general consensus of the world, the idea of which is to expand Digg's user base beyond that of tech and media pros, and general geeky stuff. if you only subscribe to your friends, or at least people who share similar interests to you, you needn't ever see another tech story again. To me at this moment in time this feature is largely useless, as most of my friends don't use Digg, there are a lot of content providers who I've subscribed to and this provides an easy way to see them.
There is still the Top News section, which works largely the same as the old style Digg, although I did notice that I get completely different stories in each feed. I personally bookmarked the Top News section as this is where I spend most of my time.
Another thing which has been streamlined is the submission system. content creators can now add an RSS feed of their content, each new item being automatically added and shared in the My News section. I'll be honest, I always thought submitting your own content was kind of cheating and that it ruins the organic nature of the site, but I've added my feed and I'll see if it gets me anywhere.
Digg has also put a big submission box right at the top of the page to encourage new content to be submitted.
Digg is clearly trying to position itself as a more social site, but also as a potential replacement for an RSS reader. I personally would much rather use Digg than a reader with social functions like Google Reader, but the content owners have to make their content available first.
Finally, Digg has added vanity URLs similar to Twitter and Facebook, so that your profile can now be located at new.digg.com/your user name, a feature that is made all the more useful given Digg's new social focus. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in following me on Digg 4, my profile is here.
All in all, I am overwhelmingly pleased pleased with the new Digg, I just hope that content creators get on board. I cant see myself replacing my RSS reader of choice just yet, but I do like the idea of doing so.