Digg may be working hard on securing new revenue streams, with the recent Digg Ads for example, but this doesn't fix the bigger problem the social link aggregator is facing, namely that its core business is being replaced by other services, meaning Twitter, with which it can't compete directly without radically changing the nature of its service. A new API that would allow developers to not only read but also write data could change all that.
In a message on a Digg mailing list, developer Jeff Hodsdon announced that the upcoming Digg API would bring this enhanced functionality. The message has been around for more than a week but it wasn't until recently that it was discovered by ProgramableWeb.
“We're looking to change the way Digg data is accessed and contributed via the API in a new version. Our goals are to have a RESTful and easy to understand API that gives power to the developers to create cool new applications. In forth coming versions of the API, people will be able to not only read data, but also contribute data too. As we thought about how to organize these new methods, we found the currently more RESTful URL structure we have may propose some issues,” he wrote.
Digg has been on a traffic gathering campaign lately, sometimes through less than popular means. The DiggBar, which the site introduced several months ago, has been the center of more than a few controversies. Launched as a URL shortening service, DiggBar initially saw heavy criticism over the fact that it added a Digg toolbar on top of the sites in the short links, a functionality that was eventually changed so that the bar would only show for logged-in Digg users. This was recently followed by another shady move when Digg changed the way the URL shortener worked by directing all links to its site rather than the original stories. This too was eventually changed but it does serve the point that Digg is trying to drum up traffic by any means necessary.
Finally it is taking a much more sensible approach with the new API, allowing developers to integrate Digg functionality in their apps or sites with a great number of interesting possibilities. Third-party applications could easily integrate a “digg” button to share content on the service, even in Twitter clients, and developers could even provide their own interface for the site, something that Digg hasn't been so keen on in the past. It's too early to tell if this will “save” Digg but it's clear that it has to do something to fight off the threat of the real-time web and the fact that the place for link sharing is now Twitter, a trend that won't revert anytime soon.