This could be part of a series on “Do I really need this new blog/web/thingy tool to help me grow my business, or am I just too easily distracted by bright, shiny objects?”

I learnt a lot, back in the nineties, from browsing – “surfing” – the web. Things got more streamlined at some point and it may be that for me and others there is now less serendipitous discovery. Web surfing went the way of the long lunch, something you might admit to having done “once, when everyone was doing it”, but which you make clear you simply don’t have time for these days.

I don’t know when or where this new Puritanism started, this giving oneself a badge of honour by declaring that one doesn’t have time for something like browsing the web, but it looks as if someone has come up with a way to provide some of the benefits of that old pasttime in such a way that we can tell ourselves and others we are not wasting time.

When I first picked up references to StumbleUpon, a little voice said “You don’t need yet another web tool, much less one that sounds like it could lead to some widespread and relatively indiscriminate social intercourse with people hitherto total strangers”. Or words to that effect.

So I chose not to look more closely at the links to StumbleUpon.

Until today, when, browsing (whoops!) my BlogBridge-served feeds from various blogs, I came across a typically thoughtful post by Mark Evans, tech guru and among other things Vice President of Operations at b5media, where I have my Business and Blogging site. Mark’s post, The Discovery Opportunity, outlines a case for seeing StumbleUpon and such “discovery” tools generally as welcome insofar as they can help us get out of the box, so to speak, of the blogs and other sites we check regularly, outside the “echo chamber”, and find out what is happening online in a wider range of areas in which we might be interested but might, left to our own usual devices, not come across.

Not long ago, I wrote about the driving force behind StumbleUpon’s popularity. To reiterate, StumbleUpon is highly personalized traffic based on your interests that is served to you when you are actively looking for new sites to discover. The service requires a download of a very easily-integrated toolbar that sits right under the Address bar on your browser. To begin using the service, you click on the “Stumble!” button on your toolbar, and you can rate a site with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down sign. As sites are continually rated with a “thumbs up,” the page is served to more and more SU users.

Mark links to a very helpful post by Tamar at 10e20 – How to Use StumbleUpon for Your Business: The Definitive Guide. The post is especially illuminating on how to use StumbleUpon for business, as a tool for driving traffic to your site. And she provides examples.

Mark also links to an article by Jordon McCollum, Is Your Site StumbleUponAble? , which comes with a checklist and the pithy observation, “basically, think linkbait.” For more on linkbait, see Brian Clark’s Copyblogger Feb 15 post, LinkBaiting Goes Mainstream

I have opened a StumbleUpon account, userid beachblogger. If you connect with me there, I would appreciate your mentioning that you picked up this reference here, serendipitously or otherwise.

Just from using the StumbleUpon supplied search of my gmail contact list an automated sendout of an invitation to join me has set me up with an initial network of eight colleague-friends. For others, not yet in StumbleUpon, there has been an invitation which may arouse enough curiosity in some to swell the numbers.

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