Surf smarter, not harder

Surf smarter, not harder

Is your Web surfing behavior stuck, downtrodden, in a rut? You say you want new Web sites in your life but don't know where to find them? Then you want to use a social bookmarking site. Me, I'm a huge fan of Digg [column], but there's a service officially launching on Tuesday (it's been in beta for months) that should help anybody find sites of interest: StumbleUpon [download].

StumbleUpon is a toolbar extension for Firefox . Its primary button, labeled "Stumble!" takes you to a site you've probably not been to before, in any of the categories you tell the service you're interested in. If you like the new site, you press a thumbs-up button. If you don't, thumbs-down. Every time you vote, the system recalibrates its site selections for you using social filtering; it attempts to find sites for you that it thinks you'll like because other users with similar preferences also like them. So far I haven't stumbled upon anything I couldn't live without, but it's been an entertaining journey.

The site is also a social network, with Web site preferences acting as the major connective tissue. The system recommends friends with similar browsing preferences; it can be enlightening to see the sites they've voted for. I suppose you could also use it to find dates--at least when you first met you'd be able to talk about sites you both like.

If you have time on your hands, StumbleUpon is worth a try.

About the author

Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.


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