11.09.2006

StumblingUpon Internet Gems


by Sara Rigdon

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little bit of a nerd. A few days ago I was bored, and so I decided to browse the web for anything remotely interesting. Needless to say, I came across many a mind-numbing site, but after an hour or so, I struck virtual gold.

Everyone has heard of and/or has the Firefox web browser, and if you don’t, I beg of you, ditch your old Internet Explorer or Safari. They’ve got nothing compared to the mighty Mozilla offshoot. The best thing about Firefox, as I discovered while surfing, is the variety of “add-ons” that allow you to “personalize your browsing experience.”

So what exactly is an add-on? Well, with more than 1,000 available for free download, add-ons range from high-tech bookmarking services to weather to shopping assistants, all in your Firefox browser. They are convenient, fun, and maddeningly addictive.

But my favorite, and the one that has kept me up until 4 in the morning, is a little number called StumbleUpon. This amazing add-on is web sharing at its absolute best. Just enter your interests (i.e., environment, photography, folk music, online games, foreign films, ethics, agnosticism, postmodernism, satire, shopping, nutrition, etc.), click the Stumble! button in your browser, and you’re off to a random website approved by other stumblers as interesting and/or informative.

Simply by stumbling, I’ve discovered how many calories are in the average avocado, what the benefits of marijuana are, how colors affect my mood, why Republicans hate democracy, and how to make a saltshaker disappear. Granted, these may not be the most intellectual or even accurate websites on earth, but they are certainly entertaining. And I’ve actually found some pretty cool, valid sites, like Book Mooch, where people swap books free of charge (see, I told you I am a nerd). There’s also openDemocracy, a news site dedicated to “free thinking for the world.”

StumbleUpon is the answer to boredom – and procrastination. It is a stroke of pure genius, and it’s only on Firefox, Mozilla’s versatile, user-friendly browser.

(To download StumbleUpon and other add-ons, check out this website.)

(Photo courtesy of daisukerman from morgueFile.)




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