StumbleUpon has, for many years now, been my way of finding new, interesting stuff on the Web. The stats today show that I have ‘Stumbled’ over 25000 times. It solved the problem of getting stuff you might like ‘pushed’ to you and removed the need to go looking for anything specific.
StumbleUpon always said that the more you rated the more accurate the match of pages you were given would be to what you liked. I’ve never been entirely convinced of this, it seems that pages you get are very much within category, I’ve seen no signs of refinement.
Over recent months, I’ve noticed my source of new, interesting stuff has shifted from StumbleUpon to Twitter. A great number of people of Twitter share an even larger number of links.
The key difference with this way of getting new content is that, rather than the StumbleUpon category approach, people you follow can offer up pretty much anything. So, rather than getting ‘pages you might like‘ you get ‘pages that people like you like‘. If you get the right followers, there can be a group of people who see the world like you offering you content. Therefore you can get off-category stuff that you still find interesting, simply because they think like you think.
This means that, once you refine who you are following accordingly, the quality of links you get via Twitter is higher than those delivered by StumbleUpon because they have already been filtered as ‘interesting’ by someone who you have decided know their eggs from their sulphurous smell.
A good example of this is @Sheamus, I started following him recently and he provides a good flow of stuff that I find interesting. There is a demographic match (of some sort) that makes this work. On the flip side, you will follow people that offer up stuff you don’t like. But that is easy solved.
The other aspect of content pushing that Twitter does well is when content providers themselves have a Twitter account and feed their new articles out. If you’re like me, you tend not to visit a large number of sites routinely, so it is very easy to miss lots of good stuff. Take a site like Smashing Magazine. They provide a large amount of quality design stuff which I’d miss if it was left to me to look. But, through their Twitter account @smashingmag, I get pushed their new stuff as and when it is published.
The only issue with this Twitter fed push content is keeping up with the volume. If you don’t look right away, there is a chance that a lot of good stuff could drift away up the timeline.
So here’s a service/feature idea for free. Have some way of storing links in Tweets for later use/viewing. Could be a service ( TwitLinkbank? ) or, perhaps better, a feature of a plug in like TwitterFox, it could store links in Tweets from a set of users in a Bookmarks folder so you can check them out easily later.