So you're AOL. Big. Strong. Powerful. One of your companies is Netscape. While it used to be really big in the dotcom days, quite frankly put, it's not anymore — let's just say it's been 'taken over' by many — I stress on many. What do you do? Why, you hire one of your latest-acquired, business-minded, around-Web-1.0 employees of course! (Jason Calacanis) What does he do? He turns it into Web 2.0 — a killer — a really big killer — a digg killer. Sorry, I hope that wasn't too lame for a starting paragraph — I needed to start strong. So in all seriousness, Netscape is (well, technically speaking, soon will be) a social-bookmarking, digg-killing, delicious-slaying, Slashdot-conquering beast. You can try out the beta here which will soon turn into the homepage.
So, is it a clone? Is it something different? Is it life-changing? Well, by the looks of it, you would think it's a straight copy of digg — let's be honest, it looks, feels, acts, smells like it. But while it's fairly similar to digg on most of the things, fundamentally, it's a more filtered, clean version. Jason Calacanis has played it smart on this one — taking the bad and controversial stuff out of digg, and the good stuff out of every social meme site out there — from Techmeme to delicious to of course digg itself — he's created an overwhelming site.
What he's done differently with Netscape is that he's hired 8 full-time and 15 part-time 'anchors' (smart term — simply put, 'editors') to go through the stories. The anchors, however, have special permissions to promote and delete stories instantly — something digg heavily relies on its users to do (which is good in its own way). The best way to describe the new Netscape would be to call it Slashdigg — the editors from Slashdot meet the socialness and interactivity of digg — the best of both worlds. Unlike Slashdot and digg (not version 3 that's coming; the current one), though, Netscape covers all stories from within 30 categories — from Celebrities to Women to Autos to Video Games. There are several other minor similarities and differences, but I won't go into them.
What I like about Netscape, or should I say the 'new' Netscape, is the fact it's straight to the point — the anchors are there where they're needed, the users have their own places, and its fairly simple to get used to, especially if you've used digg before. Where I see some problems with Netscape is that its a bit slow-moving, for example the homepage hasn't changed much for the last four hours. Another thing that's missing I feel, and unfortunately they have to sacrifice this for the fact that its cleaner, is the community aspect. When you have anchors lurking around, deleting posts, upgrading posts, deleting comments, etc it becomes a little artificial. Kevin Rose avoided this happening to digg very well — and the result's been fairly positive. So I'm not sure where Netscape is going or will go with this but it will be interesting to watch. Nonetheless, it's a very bold move on AOL's behalf.