Stumbling through.

I’ve been fooling around with StumbleUpon a lot lately and I have a feeling that it is the next “big” social network. Of course this is a fairly safe prediction seeing as how Ebay just bought it for like $75 million. Digg and Netscape are fantastic for finding one-off content like news stories or videos or funny graphics but that only takes you so far. StumbleUpon is poised to be the aggregator for the next phase of the web: consistent content creation. That is, finding sites you’ll visit again and again. You can’t digg CollegeHumor but StumbleUpon, based on your interests, can recommend it to you. And in most cases you’re sent to the site for the whole package, not a small part. Most of the content isn’t time sensitive, which again separates it the others. Which of course is absolutely perfect for Rudius. It’s hard to get the word out about a site like DevilMonkey or Philalawyer, it’s hard to get the ball rolling. StumbleUpon makes that really easy–so easy that the readers will do it for you.

If you’re not sure what SU is exactly, it’s vote based content aggregator that sends you to new sites based on tags and popularity. If you put that you’re interested in sci-fi and cats, every time you click the Stumble button it sends you to the most popular sci-fi and cat pages. Then you have the ability to vote them up or down (and post a short review or add new tags). The more you use the service, the more accurate it gets. You just install the toolbar and you’re on your way.

But I’ve found a really great reason to use it: browsing Wikipedia. The random article features on the Wikipedia homepage is ridiculous, what are the chances of it sending you to an article your actually interested in? SU allows you to block off large chunks of stuff you’d never want to see, leaving you only with the subject you want. Because SU only serves content based on the tags you’ve selected, it has a better understanding of what you’re looking for. Once you feel it has been dialed in to represent you, go to http://www.stumbleupon.com/tag/wikipedia/ and click the “Stumble pages about this” button on the right side. This sends you down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia pages based on your interests and previous votes. Then you just keep going and going, hitting the stumble button to further travel into the depths of obscurity. As you vote them up or down the articles become more and more relevant to what you’re into. I’ve found a ton of awesome stuff, some of it funny, some of it really helpful. And I’m sure you can do this for all sorts of portals. Hopefully it will work on Mahalo.com.

Some StumbleUpon Tips:

– Go through your Del.icio.us account and vote for a bunch of your bookmarks and it will dial in your account. It bases your future stumbles on your past stumbles, so this is a good place to start.

– Find the Web 2.0 guys, Darren Rowe from ProBlogger, MSaleem from Digg, etc and add them to your friends. Then you can get your finger on the pulse of tomorrow’s news

-You can go to “Toolbar Options→Position Options” and place it anywhere you want (I keep mine at the bottom in my status bar). And if you uncheck all the little buttons in the same window and select “icons only”, it takes up almost no space.

-If you’re adding a new page to SU make sure you select that it is NOT pornography or it gives the site a scarlet letter that never goes away.

Stumble the Rudius pages, I’d appreciate it.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.