Amazingly Cool Resource #3: StumbleUpon
I have been using StumbleUpon for quite a while now. I don't know where exactly I heard about it, but If I remember who introduced me to it, then I owe them a big Kiss.
StumbleUpon, or just "SU" if you are in a hurry, is sort of a social network, but it is more a vehicle for cruising the web. When the World Wide Web was young, the time spent online was equated with time spent "Channel Surfing", on Cable or Satellite TV. "Surfing" channels was flitting from one channel to another, with no idea what was next.
But "Surfing The Web", as the activity came to be called (because "Reading the Web" just didn't seem to fit the bill), was unlike it's telvision counterpart, in that while you were flitting from one page to another, you weren't doing it randomly, just to "see what else is on". You were following a link to specific content you (hopefully) wanted to see. Outside of some themed "Web Rings" (anyone remember them?), you didn't have the option of idly "Flipping the Channel" to "see what else is on".
StumbleUpon has a slightly higher bar for entry than other social networks, because it asks you to install a toolbar on your own personal computer. If you use a PC at the Public Library to check your MySpace, or your Facebook, or your Email, then StumbleUpon is going to be useless, because it only works on computers with the toolbar installed.
However if you cross that initial obstacle, then you can enjoy a personalized selection of internet goodness, specially tailored to your interests, and served up to you at literally the click of a button.
That Button is the "Stumble" Button, and a single click on it will take you to a random website listed among one of the "interests" you selected when setting up your account.There are scores, if not hundreds of topics, so your first stumble could take you to a page on anything from Parenting, to Astronomy, to Coin Collecting, to Anime, to Gardening, to Ferrets, to Christianity, to Jazz.
If you love the page you landed on, then click the little Tivo-like "Thumbs up" button next to the stumble button. SU will send you more pages like that in the future. Then you can surf from that site as you ordinarily would, and when you find yourself bored, hit the Stumble Button to "See what else is on". If you don't like the site, a thumbs-down will send you soaring off to some other site.
Stumble upon works by taking the sites you have indicated you liked, finding others who liked them, and finding what else they liked. You don't have to "Friend" them to benefit from their input into the system. But you can. If you find people whose interests line up closely with your own, then you can add them as friends, and "Stumble" through only sites that they, in particular have liked.
There are a lot of other features, but there honestly don't need to be. Their one main feature is enough to keep you informed and/or entertained (possibly even "info-tained") for as long as your body can physically stand to sit in front of a computer. Or Longer.