Stumbleupon: a new way to browse the Web

While perhaps not as new as the title of this article suggests, Stumbleupon is definitely a different way to browse the Internet. What was originally a tool bar add on for Mozilla’s Firefox has taken on a life of its own. Released sometime in 2003, this add on to the popular browser allowed you select things of interest on a list. This was done of course after one had made a profile, allowing Stumble to store the information you selected. This way, even if you changed computers you were still free to stumble. From there, all you needed to do was press the Stumble button and away you went: a website would randomly be picked that matched some of your interests. You can keep on stumbling until you found something you liked. The majority of the sights were user submitted and labelled.

From its humble beginnings, Stumble has grown, now allowing you to add your own categories, not just the suggested few. It also gained a ‘pictures’ and ‘movies’ feature. These two features allowed you to sort through user suggested movies and pictures, making it almost certain you would find something that you would like. It was not long before Stumble was no longer a purely Firefox add on, making the jump to Internet Explorer as well.

Users can even jot down reviews and a rating system for the websites, giving the user submitted content real scrutiny, allowing to avoid the sites that somehow managed to get submitted that really didn’t deserve

to be. Letting someone know whether the site you are visiting is worthwhile or not is as simple as a thumbs up or down, both of which are a built-in part of the tool bar.

In its own way, Stumble is helping us to reclassify and organize the Internet in a way to understand it better. No longer do you have to spend countless amounts of time aimlessly wandering through search engine after search engine looking for something to interest you just based on your key-terms. Now there is a way to sift out the good from the bad and someone else has done most of the work. That is half of the advantage of Stumble. If someone else likes the web site enough to submit it, then more than likely you will like it was well. Another thing that makes stumble such a great program is that it helps you find those small sites that normally wouldn’t receive that much attention on a standard search engine. In this way, Stumble certainly helps you stumble upon the unknown. There is a bit of a downside to having all you want just one click away: the purely addictive nature of Stumble. More often than not, you will find it ever harder to stop cycling through that ever-growing catalog of web sites in anticipation of what stumble will bring up next.

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