Stumbleupon – Surfing the web is BACK!

I heard about stumbleupon a while ago. It seemed to be the next “fad” like bebo, myspace, facebook, digg, technorati, the list goes on. I tend to avoid these “fads”, ok with the exception of facebook, which seems to be as essential nowadays as owning a mobile phone! It seems you no longer exchange numbers with people, you poke’em then ad’em! (but that’s for another post!).

The Install

I was initially turned off from stumbleupon because of the need to add a toolbar to your browser (boo hiss). I have been caught out in the past by this sort of thing. You install a product and all of a sudden your browser is highlighting links in yellow and hijacking everything.

So it was with caution that I installed stumbleupon. Fortunately the toolbar is harmless and well laid out.

Getting started

The registration process is quick and easy. It asks you about your interests. This is important as it determines what content is thrown at you.

You are first presented with a Stumble toolbar,with the obvious “Stumble!” button on the left.

Press the Stumble button and the browser will load a page Stumble thinks you might like, from your list of interests. If you like the page you can click the thumbs up button on the toolbar, or thumbs down if you don’t like it. Stumble uses this data to work out your likes and dislikes. The idea is the more you stumble the more accurate it will get.

Friends indeed

Once you have registered with Stumbleupon and greated your account you can add friends. This is a similar process to adding friends in Facebook, it even used the MSN API to grab your contact list if you allow it to.

Friends makes the whole stumble experience much more worthwhile. Rather than emailing your friend a funny link, or pasting it into MSN (if they are online) you can click the “send to” button and choose your friend. This will then pop up on their stumble toolbar next time they log on. It allows you to send a comment too. This is great fun but be aware, stumbling with friends is addictive!

Channel hopping

There is a selection of channels on the toolbar. If you wanted to search for a single topic, say internet games, you choose the channel and hit stumble. Your search will be narrowed and you will stumble just that area. This is a neat feature.

Favorites

If you discover a site it (are the first to stumble it) the site it automatically added to your favorites. This forms part of your mini-blog within your logged in area. When you stumble you can see who stumbled befor you. You can then enter their mini-blog and see their favorites. Not sure how useful this feature is, feels a bit too much like stalking to me!

So, what’s the big deal?

To me the big deal is getting back to the days where you actually “surf the web”. In recent years the internet has grown so big but has got cluttered with a lot of crap. Stumbleupon is a vehicle for navigating the good stuff and filtering out the bad.

I can come home from work and stumble for half an hour. To find this many good sites would take hours using google. It’s also great to be able to keep track of where you have been. All your “thumbs up” sites are kept in your user area and int he new version of Stumbleupon it actually adds it to your bookmarks (or favorites, in IE).

I love Stumbleupon, it’s a great way to find new sites, the only down side is I seem to find it very difficult to go to bed now… just… one… more… stumble!!!

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