Do you channel surf on tv? Do you crave a remote control with a button you could click to discover new shows you love? Wouldn’t you buy a remote control that knows what types of shows you like and takes you to those kinds of shows? If you didn’t like a show, just press the button again to get a new show you might like better.
If that sort of remote control appeals to you, check out StumbleUpon, a website that helps you discover new websites based upon your individual preferences. Think of Google as a search engine that suggests websites based upon search terms you enter. StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that takes you to websites based on your interests. Think of StumbleUpon as a tool for exploration, a source of knowledge and an addictive time-waster.
To get started, go to stumbleupon.com. An account isn’t necessary, but I suggest you sign up to discover websites in your areas of interest. Register with your email address and choose a user name. You can connect to friends through Facebook, Twitter and your email contacts. Then choose your interests from a list of categories and subcategories. Don’t spend too long on this at first, you can always add to the categories later.
Make sure you select Photography as an interest, you’ll find it as a subcategory under Science/Technology (which, being a Wonder of Tech reader, you would have selected Science/Technology anyway!) or Popular Topics. Even if you’ve never taken a picture in your life, you should still select Photography to see the amazing images shared on StumbleUpon.
After you have selected a few categories, click on the yellow Start Stumbling button and let the fun begin!
When you use StumbleUpon, a StumbleUpon toolbar appears at the top of your screen. Make sure to click on the thumbs up or thumbs down button on the toolbar to vote on the sites you visit with StumbleUpon. This helps StumbleUpon learn your interests so you can discover new favorite websites. (Note: I’m a big fan of sites that learn my interests to steer me in the right direction, such as Pandora radio and Zite.)
The toolbar also lets you share a site on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and via email. You can see others’ StumbleUpon reviews of sites and leave your own review. You can also use the toolbar to revisit your favorites (the sites where you voted a thumbs up). This is handy so you don’t have to bookmark each site you like, because chances are you will like a lot of sites.
I enjoy going to the reviews, not only to see what other people have commented, but also because the sidebar of the review pages suggests other similar pages you might like. Are you beginning to see how very addictive StumbleUpon can be? To convince you further, I am posting this fun video I found on StumbleUpon as I was researching this blog post:
I hope every day goes that well for you!
StumbleUpon also has mobile apps for Android, iPhone and iPad. As much as I love StumbleUpon as a website on my computer, I’m not a big fan of StumbleUpon as a mobile app. First, a lot of the sites are difficult to read on the smaller screen of a phone. Second, the StumbleUpon app uses a lot of memory so can slow down a phone unless you manually close the app.
The apps are free and available from the iTunes app store and the Android Market. Here is the QR code [see, QR Codes: The Next Great Tech (You Haven’t Heard Of Yet)] for the app in the Android Market:
For easy access to StumbleUpon when you’re on your computer, check out the Add-ons for StumbleUpon on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. (See, Fun With Browsers! for an explanation of Add-ons.) These Add-ons put a StumbleUpon toolbar on your computer screen so you can vote thumbs up or thumbs down on any website you visit, share the website with friends, or start stumbling immediately. Unless you use StumbleUpon constantly and have a lot of extra screen space, I wouldn’t recommend having a StumbleUpon toolbar on your screen. Don’t worry, when you are on the StumbleUpon website the toolbar will appear automatically.
Now that you know about StumbleUpon, look for the StumbleUpon icon on websites you visit. If you like a site, click on the StumbleUpon icon to share the site with others and to refine your preferences. At the bottom of this blog is a StumbleUpon icon, in between the Print and Google icons. If you click on the icon, you will let StumbleUpon know that you like this blog post and recommend it to others who have similar interests.
Want to learn more about StumbleUpon? Here is a link to an interview with the CEO of StumbleUpon, Garrett Camp, from today’s USA Today: USA Today Interviews Garrett Camp.
Let us know in the comments below if you try StumbleUpon and discover any sites you want to share with other Wonder of Tech readers!
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* Photo by Fugitive247