Whenever a trendy app comes along, there are people who ask, “What is the point of this?” If millions of people are using something, there has to be a reason. In our What Is the Point of... series, we’ll explain it to you.
This week, we're asking, What is the point of StumbleUpon?
Did you know StumbleUpon was 10 years old? It's true. It has been learning about the interests of idle geeks since the early days of the Web. It has grown up into a massively influential application available on all kinds of devices. And it's entering a new era as co-founder and CEO Garret Camp steps down.
What is this thing? Should you be using it? That's up to you. Do you like fun? If you enjoy fun, you might enjoy StumbleUpon.
Better Than Television, But Just As Easy
StumbleUpon is for those times you just want the Internet to show you things. You don't want to search, you don't want to browse, you just want wonderful things to appear. Or maybe you feel like you're in a rut, just hitting the same old sites over and over. If you can manage to type in "stumbleupon.com" and hit Enter, you've already accomplished the hard part.
Or, if you're really chilled out and not even at your desktop, you can use StumbleUpon's mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook and Kindle Fire. Once you have an account, StumbleUpon can bring delightful things to whatever device you're using.
Now that you're in, just start stumbling. Click the "Stumble" button and StumbleUpon will show you something new. Like it? Thumbs up. Don't like it? Thumbs down. That's all there is to it. Thumbs up means "I want to see more stuff like this on StumbleUpon." Thumbs down means you don't.
You can also help it along by adding interests. StumbleUpon is bursting at the seams with topics, and you can add as many as you want to your profile so it knows what you're interested in. But the most important thing is to spend a good amount of time thumbs-upping and thumbs-downing things. That's how it gets to know you.
A Magic Carpet Ride for Your Brain
You can stumble for anything, or you can filter your stumbles by one of your topics. Recently, StumbleUpon has added some features to help you stumble a bit more specifically. The Explore Box lets you type in any topic and quickly begin stumbling within it, even if you aren't subscribed to it.
After you stumble for a while, StumbleUpon will be right most of the time. It will be your favorite way to just surf around for things you like with minimal effort. When the iPad version came out, our old friend Marshall Kirkpatrick called it "a magic carpet ride for your brain." I don't think it could possibly be said any better than that.