In their 1991 Pulitzer-winning book The Ants, E.O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler described an ant colony as a super-organism – a vast social network. The ants in the colony communicate with each other by following chemical trails left by other ants. As we browse the web today, we are provided with social proof of quality by sites that let us know what our trusted friends have liked or shared recently.
When we made some of our first forays into the social web, in an attempt to promote a now defunct blog, we did what most anyone did in 2007 – we tried to figure out how to leave enough bread crumbs around to entice people who we certainly don’t consider to be ants to actually come to our site and then share with their friends to point the way back to the content, and all signs pointed to one place. We heard exciting mythical tales of a beastly site known to send enough traffic to wreak havoc on servers (which sounded like fun for some reason). Back then, if you figured out what worked on the mysterious creature known as Digg, you were able to send your content for a cascading ride to linkbait glory.