Tour Du Jour: StumbleUpon

I think it is high time to revisit a web application from my very early days of poking around in web applications. StumbleUpon is and has always been one of my fav cool tools and, if nothing else, an incredibly entertaining way to spend time on the Web. If you don’t already know what StumbleUpon is, it is an online community that promotes discovery and rating of Web pages, photos, and videos. To do this, it offers, via the touch of a few buttons, the ability to secure personalized recommendations, using peer reviews and social-networking principles. In a word, its tons of fun.

Some of my early blog posts were the product of successful Stumbleupon jaunts. After setting up my profile and selecting some preferred topics of interests, I would sit at my computer, press the cute little blue and green button and be magically transported to cool pages and information I had never heard of or seen before. The more your rate the results, the better the results get. In a word, the ultimate on-line surfing engine for just about any kind of web content you can imagine.

Stumbleupon is fun, sure, but it is no slouch for professional use, if you are interested in such concepts as increasing web site traffic. I regularly get Stumblers from articles that have gotten posted up on Stumbleupon. And that is no fluke. Recent reports show that StumbleUpon  was the biggest driver of traffic among social media websites during the month of June, 2011, beating even sharing titan Facebook. And just a couple of weeks ago, Stumbleupon started making available a publishing widget for websites and blogs designed to keep readers on the site by offering curated, related article suggestions, much like Outbrain.

And today, in an effort to stay in touch with the cutting edge shiny, it has updated its iPad app with new features that reemphasize the social aspects of the site: there is now a “social bar” at the top of each stumbled page that highlights friends or other users who also liked the page, with the option to to visit their profile and connect.  If you haven’t used StumbleUpon on the iPad, you should – the device and the app are made for each other when it comes to entertaining web consumption on the ultimate consumption device.

So, let’s hear it for StumbleUpon – a great information service with social aspects and the ability to power your on-line campaigns. Oh, and a great way to blow an evening finding cool stuff.



Let IBM Handle Your Commute, Intelligently

First you have Watson taking over our game shows and now IBM’s Smarter Traveler has your commute covered. This new system is better than your average GPS’ traffic alerts – it learns your routes and then analyzes data from various sources to actually predict how bad it is going to be before you even leave the comfort of your home or office. 

The system is the product of IBM, Caltrans and a team at UCal Berkeley. It combines predictive analysis software with an existing network of road sensors, toll booths, and data from GPS equipped cell phones to learn travel habits, routes and areas of congestion. Alerts are then automatically delivered via email or text message with the status of the driver’s typical commute before the trip begins, eliminating potential driver distraction during the trip. What I really like is the app’s ability to suggest alternative routes before the traffic gets gridlocked – I cannot tell you how many times I get the traffic alert just as I am pulling up to the back of the wall of stopped traffic. It is anticipated that suggested alternative routes may include trips to the nearby public transportation along with current schedules for buses and trains. Useful and eco-friendly!

You can check out IBM’s press release here. Right now, it is being tested in the Bay area, but hopefully soon in an urban area near you. In anticipation, I already signed up. You can too here. Maybe, just maybe, we can all kiss traffic hell goodbye in the near future.