The Wizards of Buzz (WSJ)

By JAMIN WARREN and JOHN JURGENSEN
February 10, 2007; Page P1

This winter, many parents across the country are sitting on the floor with slabs of cardboard, box cutters and special rivets, and building pirate ships for their kids. How did this happen? Thank 45-year-old Cliff Worthington.

An English teacher in Osaka, Japan, he mentioned the box projects on a popular Web site called Digg.com1. Soon, supplies of the rivets needed to make them sold out at MrMcGroovys.com2.

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“It would have taken me a year to sell that many rivets,” says Andy McGrew, owner of Mr. McGroovy’s, which offers free blueprints for the homemade pirate ships and other projects.

The next time you visit a buzzy Web site, see a funny video clip online or read an unusual take on the news, chances are you owe it to someone like Mr. Worthington. A new generation of hidden influencers is taking root online, fueled by a growing love affair among Web sites with letting users vote on their favorite submissions. These sites are the next wave in the social-networking craze — popularized by MySpace and Facebook. Digg is one of the most prominent of these sites, which are variously labeled social bookmarking or social news. Others include Reddit.com3 (recently purchased by Condé Nast), Del.icio.us4 (bought by Yahoo), Newsvine.com5 and StumbleUpon.com6. Netscape7 relaunched last June with a similar format. (more…)

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