Have you stumbled lately?

StumbleUpon.comI’ve discovered a new favorite website, StumbleUpon. Try it on a rainy day when you’ve got a few hours – you’ll find it quite addictive.

The concept is simple: sign up (free), download the browser toolbar, and check a few boxes to tell it what you like.

Next, press the newly-installed “Stumble!” button on your web browser and see where it takes you. Like it? Give it a thumbs up and browse around. Not so much? Thumbs down, and stumble onto the next site.

The more stumbling you do, the smarter it gets about what you like. It uses community-based ratings to compare your results with people like you so that it can make quality recommendations. After using it off and on the last few weeks, it knows what I like even better than I do.

Where it gets really interesting are the intersections between your interests. I like design, architecture, and green living. It’s been showing me a lot of eco-friendly concept houses which to me are simply fascinating. Since I also marked that I’m interested in web development, business, and marketing, I’m stumbling on web design trends as well as sites that show the absolute best branding I’ve ever seen, really creative stuff.

I just hit the stumble button and stumbled on this intriguing site: http://www.dontclick.it. The entire site is click-less, to illustrate a different take on website interaction. Simply move your mouse around to make things happen on the site. It’s surprisingly easy.

Maybe that site does nothing for you…you can tell I think it’s pretty darn cool, but then again website usability is a personal passion of mine. That’s OK! Tell StumbleUpon what you like, and you’ll find you’re equally enthusiastic about what you stumble upon on the web.

The coolest thing is I never would have found this on Google because I never would have thought to look for it. But StumbleUpon knew I’d like it a lot. Wonder what you’re missing? Start stumbling today!
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Expand your network (your social network, that is)

Social networksSocial networking has taken off–are you in the loop? LinkedIn is hands-down the biggest site for business networking, but many other sites can help you connect. No matter what your interest, there’s a perfect place to share it online.

In this post, we’ll look at the variety of social networking sites available. In a subsequent post, we’ll explore ways these can be used to help you and your business.

  • MySpace was not the first social networking site, but it was one of the first to hit the mainstream and really take off. It remains popular today, with millions of members.
  • Facebook was limited to high school and college students until September 2006. Since then it has usurped MySpace and become *the* place to be online. New applications sprout up each day, making it a broad platform for connections.
  • Plaxo is taking the Facebook approach to the business world in competition to LinkedIn. They’ve long been known for their online address book that requests automatic updates by email, but it remains to be seen how popular its social networking side will be.
  • Flickr is social networking via photos. Post your favorites or post them all, then tag them, label them, categorize them, and share them.
  • YouTube takes Flickr to the next level with video instead of photography. Record anything you want, post it and tag it, then wait for the comments to come in.
  • Twitter allows you to share exactly what you are doing at any point in time. Consider it a real-time community status board.
  • Digg, Del.ico.us, and StumbleUpon are not traditional social networking sites, but they use each the power of community to accomplish the same thing: link you to recommendations made by others with similar interests. By bringing like interests together, everyone gets more of what they love most.

These sites mingle the real world with the virtual world almost seamlessly. While it’s easy to sign up on any of these sites, you’ll have to return regularly to make strong connections. Real-world friends and colleagues require your time and attention; your virtual connections do as well.