I heart Stumble Upon.
Being an experienced surfer, it is no problem (or seldomly one) to find what I want. But what about finding something which I did not search for? Yes there are sites like Digg, but honestly, I never got into Digg, it is just not my cup of tea. It is somehow too predictable.
Meet Stumble Upon, or first a very old extinct service called URL Roulette. URL Roulette was simple: you visited the site, clicked a button and it would take you somewhere, to some website. That was a lot of fun and long years I have been wanting such a service. I did ‘stumble’ across Stumble Upon some time ago, but it did not make click untill I installed the toolbar some weeks ago. I did not know how much this was, what I wanted.
In a nutshell, SU is simple: You install a toolbar, choose the areas of your interest and click on a button called stumble. The service will then show you sites from your area of interest, by chance and a bit of calculation. If you like it, you give a thumb up or else a thumb down or just leave the site. You can restrict the selection in many different ways (by one topic, by one stumbler, by media type, or for example to just show you an wikipedia article, or a flickr photo) and the beauty is that it finds you wonderful stuff.
Well, more of what your friends and other people like in the areas you are interest in, but you get the point. I have found so many great site since then, that I find myself using the service several times a day. I wished it would support language better, because to have this amount of flexibility in slicing and dicing in English and in German would be great.
To see for yourself how easy this is, you can now test it without having to install the toolbar through their live demo. This reduced version does not allow you to choose your topics, but gives you a feel for what is magic about it. Browse other Stumblers, just Videos, just photos. or any site.
Three quick finds with browsing through flickr:
Btw, the Firefox toolbar allows you to just quickly click the button and open new stumbles in the background several times while IE forces you to one click at a time. Another reason to use FF. ;)
If you are on stumble, feel free to add me, but have a look at my stumble site and tag cloud first, to get a feel for the kind of sites I am stumbeling. ;o)
Why the service is additionally interesting
They are going to cross 4 million users today and have been bought by Ebay in March this year. Now, how about a toolbar for ebay, which allows you to hop through interesting auctions, not because you searched for them, but they just find you? After all, ebay is about selling, and the more you do get presented with options you like, the more likely you are to buy more. How about “i like this kind of auction” and instead of surfing through endless lists of auction items, you just ‘go discover’?
Now if you excuse me, I would like to stumble a bit around. :)