A day or so ago, members of BlogCatalog began a thread asking questions about the mysterious machinations of StumbleUpon.
And as minds who together had unravelled the puzzles of SEO... Of Facebook virtual farm animal addiction... Of how you can actually use Twitter for something other than talking about your morning Froot Loops...
This crowd was strangely stumped.
And it occurred to me that StumbleUpon is pretty much the social media version of the TV series Heroes. (Or if you want to go Old School-- Twin Peaks.) Sure, you like it, it's compelling. It might even do something positive for you.
But you're really not sure why, or how you even got there.
- Flashbacks, flash forwards and flash sidewayses. Time is fluid. Heroes will pop you from ancient Japan to futuristic Times Square and across to a Middle American diner. Then, next season, you'll do it all over again, but fresh and new. StumbleUpon will send you to posts you've never seen before, places you've already reviewed, pages you didn't like the first time, and the same topic but different variations in mind-bending order. Where are you now and how exactly did you get to a site devoted solely to miniature blinged-out dog collars? Who knows?
- Death is Fleeting. Does anything really die? In Heroes, characters you thought had snuffed it get resurrected through some twists of time and fate. In StumbleUpon, old, creaking posts thumbed-up months ago but which never saw traffic, pop-up out of nowhere and send hundreds of visitors your way. Why? There are no clues. You see no new upward thumbs. You just have to hope it's not thumbed down-- or, say, cancelled-- before you make sense of it.
- Simple Is More Gooder. StumbleUponers tend to like stuff you can skim. A quick pic. A short cartoon. A bulleted list. Something that shocks. Or rides up and chafes. This earns the traffic and the stars. Heroes ratings took a dive once viewers realized theoretical astrophysics had fewer twists and turns, and everyone started watching something that didn't involve brain yoga. Like How I Met Your Mother. There is only one question in that program, and that can be dragged out for another seven seasons or so.
- Where Does the Power Come From? In Heroes, character have superpowers. And whether it's due to genetics, or the eclipse, or government conspiracy, or not enough tinfoil hats, it's hard to say. Even if we figure it out, it will likely change by next season. In StumbleUpon, a post can be stumbled by two different people. But one will take off like Lance Armstrong after a power bar. And one will sit there like Rosie O'Donnell after a Vegas buffet. The StumbleUpon formulas have deemed some folks more powerful than others. Presumably if you Stumble with diversity, you'll earn the power of flight. But witnesses can't quite confirm it.
- Nothing Is What It Seems. Or Is It? In Heroes, double- and triple-agents abound, and there are more red herrings than in a Norwegian fishermonger's freezer. In StumbleUpon, the Stmp.stumbleupon.com server keeps showing up in my stats doing what looks like page indexing. What is it doing there? Why has it come? Is this good? Is this bad? It looks hopeful. But are you StumbleUpon people on my side, helping my site? Or are you working for the powers of thumb-downingness? We'll have to stay tuned to find out.
For you folks, do you use StumbleUpon and does it leave you scratching your head? Or are you simply finding the fun surfing the blogosphere, surfing the world?