Digg unveiled some new features today designed to make it easier for us to keep up with news and harder for us to get any work done. Users will be able to rank podcasts the way they now rank news stories. TechCrunch notes the significance:: "The Digg team isn't putting it this way, but it's clear that this is an experiment to see if users will adopt the Digg model of voting on things to non-breaking news. If this is successful, look for Digg to launch new types of content areas on the site."
Digg is also breaking out videos into its own separate page. That's a great idea; most of the time, we're just not able to watch videos online, either because they take too much time or because we're in an environment where watching videos is inappropriate behavior. So it's nice to have a separate page to go to when you do have the time and inclination to watch videos.
Of course, it's obvious that Digg has set up the video page as part of a conspiracy to destroy my productivity. Just now, when simply glancing at the page to verify the URL, I found four interesting videos. Must... resist... temptation....
In other upgrades: You can get views of the site that give you just the top 10 links, or top stories from the past 7, 30, and 365 days.
OK, now, here's the part I found most interesting: The page design is changed from fixed-width to variable width. The display gets wider or narrower to fit the width of your browser. That's interesting because most news sites still use a fixed-width display. I took a quick survey just now -- I found fixed-width used by 10 of the top 12 mainstream and tech news sites: InformationWeek.com, Yahoo News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Computerworld, CNet, CNN.com, MSNBC.com, and Fox News.
Of the major online news sites, only Google News used a variable-width page before Digg.
Just for the heck of it, I took a look at Fark, a news-humor site -- they expressly deny being a news site (motto: "It's not news -- it's Fark.com"), but, like The Daily Show on TV, people probably get a lot of their news information from it anyway. Fark uses a variable-width page.
Kevin Rose describes the changes on Digg the Blog.. Check out the video, it's short, easy-to-understand, and informative.