Talking Tech Friday – Stumbleupon

Dan suggested I try Stumbleupon, which is a browser extension. Typically, I don’t review anything that I have to download for the Talking Tech column, but browser extensions are an exception to this rule. A browser extension is an add-on to your browser that gives some additional functionality – a prime example is having the Google search box in your browser toolbar (or, if you’re a nerd like me, your search box includes Google, Ask, Exalead, WorldCat, and Amazon).

What is it?

Stumbleupon is a browser extension that can be used with both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Downloading the extension is quick and painless – you don’t really have to do anything other than restart your browser when it’s finished.

Stumbleupon’s purpose is to facilitate “Community-based surfing”. The theory is that you can have a better, more fulfilling web-surfing experience by browsing or surfing websites that are recommended by users with similar interests. From the about page: “StumbleUpon filters through the vast amount of information on the web to direct Stumblers to high quality web sites which are relevant to their personal interests.”

How does it work?

When you create your account, you specify interests for your profile – among your choices are “Library Resources,” “K-12 Education,” “Literature,” “Books,” and “Internet Tools”, as well as a host of other options. Add your ubiquitous email and username, and your birthdate (my guess is that they want to make sure you don’t receive any age-inappropriate recommendations) and you’re ready to go!

You’ll notice that there is now an additional toolbar in your browser window. Clicking “Stumble” will bring up a website recommended by other stumblers with similar interests. You can rate websites by clicking “I like it!” (thumb up) or “No more like this” (thumb down). As you continue to use Stumbleupon, it will gradually refine the selections you’re shown based on the ratings you give.

Additionally, as you do your own websurfing, you can rate sites the same way, share them with friends, add them to favorites, etc.  You can also help create your own community by importing your contacts lists from your web-based email services, and having “friends.”

StumbleUpon also allows you to create a blog and more of a personal profile, encouraging more of a social network based on web-browsing.

Here’s my new StumbleUpon profile, if you’d like to be friends!

Possible Library Uses

One thing that immediately comes to mind is using StumbleUpon to share information with your users.  The blog you can create comes with an RSS feed.  It would be easy to link to reading lists, book reviews, relevant articles, or subject pages (homework, academic subject pages, etc).

Additionally, it could be used to help library staff just keep up with things of interest.  One of the great things about browsing today is letting the information come to you without you having to go look for it.

Any others?

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~ by Anali on March 21, 2008.

2 Responses to “Talking Tech Friday – Stumbleupon”

  1. Hi
    The Stumbleupon thingy is new to me, but I have find that its really a cool tool.

    I’m on a search for more tips & tricks
    Let me know if you got some more.

    Thanks for links and explanation.
    And for the post too.
    Definitely learned something new today 😉

    Amit

  2. I have used Stumble Upon and have it installed on my PC and enjoy rating the different sites that I visit. It’s a great tool to have.

    Great blog and I will be visiting again
    Regards
    Janet

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