Is Bit.ly a replacement for Digg?

A fascinating post from Om Malik in which he argues that URL shortening service Bit.ly (a competitor to the more familiar Tiny URL) is in a position to launch a content recommendation service which can outcompete Digg. The argument can be summarised thusly:

1. Bit.ly shortens 25 million URLs per month;

2. it is therefore in a very good position to accurately measure what’s popular on da Web;

3. this data could be converted into a Digg-like service.

This seems possible, and the Bit.ly data would certainly be much harder to game than Digg. However, I think that misses the point of Digg, which is in effect a community which rates and recommends content. So whilst I think it might be possible to turn this data into a Digg-like service, I think that this is a bit of a red herring. Personally speaking, I think Bit.ly and the other URL shorteners might be more of a threat to the likes of Hitwise and Quantcast, etc. Of course, these firms have other significant sources of data, and it would be hard to create a standalone competitor out of a URL shortener, however, their data would provide a useful adjunct to Hitwise’s existing data streams, and if I were a Hitwise, etc, I’d be seriously considering a quick purchase of one of the several URL shortening start-ups.

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