I’m a huge StumbleUpon fan, and not just because it was started in Calgary before – sniff, sniff – leaving home to seek its fame and fortune in Silicon Valley. StumbleUpon rocks because its mandate is all about discovery – the ability to offer up new Web sites that take you out of your comfort zone (aka the sites/blogs in a particular area that you check out every day).
The way I see it, discovery is – or be should be – one of the most exciting new trends on the Web that will spawn the next wave of hot start-ups. Let me explain. Right now, we’re in the midst of a user-generated content revolution with the creation of millions of blogs, podcasts and vlogs. At the same time, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to produce high-quality videos and music that you can quickly distribute on the Web.
The problem – and the opportunity – is discovering all his new content because search engines – including Google – aren’t to do the trick. So how do you discover new and interesting blogs, music, videos, etc. given most people don’t stray too far their main area of interest. For example, given my interest in technology, there are a handful of Web sites (Techmeme, Tailrank, CNet) and a 50 to 75 blogs that I visit regularly but few of them are non-tech (CBSsportline.com, CBC.com, The Guardian, New York Times). I suspect my online habits are pretty typical.
Since I started using StumbleUpon, for example, my bookmark list has expanded (Note: I’d like to see a StumbleUpon tool created just for blogs). I’ve also got 10 Pandora channels, which has gone a long way in solving my music discovery challenge (It’s like commercial radio is a place to discover new music, and venture capitalists/music afficianado Fred Wilson can only blog about so many hot, new bands).
If I was going to jump into a new start-up, it would be something focused on discovery – a service that makes it easy to find new Web sites and blogs, books (check out this book discovery tool), music, restaurants, travel destinations, podcasts, videos, movies, etc. The emergence of these tools could take us back to the Web’s early days (I’m talking when it hit the mainstream in the mid-90s) when it was pretty easy to be blown away by all the new things the Web had to offer, which prompted many people to spend hours just randomly surfing. Ah, those were the days!