Why StumbleUpon is Like Heroes

Flashbacks... Flash forwards... Flash sidewayses, fer Pete's sake... Deja vu and deja vatthefrickisgoingon...

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?

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Humorbloggers
Humor-blogs

18 comments:

Bullgrit said...

I looked into StumbleUpon some a while back, and I got a vague idea what it was about and how it worked. But it looks like something you have to really get into to really get any use out of. You can't just dabble in it.

So yeah, like Heroes.

Jenn Thorson said...

Bullgrit-- Yeah, you're quite right-- I'd done a little Stumbling each day there for a while, and things went quite well-- I was gaining authority, etc. But haven't followed through much lately and seem to have lost it all.

And unfortunately, UNLIKE Heroes, you can't just Netflix it and take care of it all at one go, uniterrupted. :)

Claire said...

I have been using stumbleupon for an age now, but have no idea how it really works. I know I have stumbled some cool things and that person has got a shit load of traffic, but then other have gotten about 5?

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- I've had the same. And I know there for a while it was looking like StumbleUpon was asking for people to stumble things diversely. Like, if you read a particular site regularly and you stumble a lot of the articles because you like them, eventually Stumbleupon won't want to take articles anymore of yours from that site. So it'll get less traffic than if you Stumbled something entirely new.

But the thing is, we all only GO to a certain amount of sites. You'd think good content should prevail over locale.

C.B. Jones said...

There's a reason I don't post on blog catalog that much...That's because my attention span sucks, and I'm never active at forums anyway. Another is that they ask too many questions.

Twitter is the greatest cereal status feed on the planet. No one should even attempt to use it for any other reason. It's perfect as is, dagnabbit!

Jenn Thorson said...

CB- Now I KNOW I've seen your brain over there at BC. :)

And you know what there needs to be? Something LIKE Twitter but with the mandate you'll only specifically tell people what you're eating. All day, every day. I bet folks would love that! :) They could call it Nibbler.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I agree that stumbleupon, like Delicious and so many of those things is something you have to really be into and not just explore. I've stumbled things here or there, but I'm not sure what's come of them. I've liked them, so I stumbled them.

But I'm beginning to think that Stumbleupon, like Microsoft, Google and Disney is EVIL.

TJ Lubrano said...

I can post a comment!!

Yes, I honestly don't know how Stumbleupon works. And I'm not that motivated to figure it all out at the moment hehe. But I love your comparison with Heroes! Haha it's spot on!

@ Lisa: But But Lisa...Disney is evil :|...Whyyy??

nonamedufus said...

I haven't used StumbleUpon for some time even though the menu bar is sitting right there at the top of my page. Heroes? I missed the second season but came back. Maybe I'll come back to StumbleUpon.

Your a great writer, Jenn and very imaginative. I really enjoy reading your posts. "more red herrings than a Norwegian fishermonger's freezer" cracked me up.

I stumbled this! Cheers...

Jenn Thorson said...

Lisa- That's the way I operate with Stumbleupon myself. I'd like to second the evils of Microsoft, plus add in the gas company. I have a continuing war on with them of superheroic proportions when it comes to meter readings. :)

TJ- Since Lisa has a two-year-old, I believe the evil may come from painful saturation.

Noname- Aw, thank you, Noname. I appreciate it. The irony here is pretty funny.

Staci at Just Bloggled said...

I have to admit that I have never used StumbleUpon. I think I went to the website once, but that's as close as I got. I did like the first seasons of Heroes and Twin Peaks so maybe I'd like StumbleUpon as well. Then, on the other hand, it might give me the same headache that the shows' second seasons did.

Either way, I gave you an award on my blog. You can pick it up here: http://www.justbloggled.com/2009/09/i-love-lucys-bees-knees-and-my-bengay.html. Congrats!

ReformingGeek said...

Very funny an oh, so very true!

I never got into Stumbling. I'm too clumsy. ;-)

Skye said...

Wow, now I'm really feeling "out of it", I hadn't even heard of StumbleUpon until reading about it here. Thing is, what I've read here makes me decide that I don't even want to look into it! So Jenn, thanks for letting me know about this!

freetheunicorns said...

I think StumbleUpon is on heroin. That's why I only use it on special occasions.

Jenn Thorson said...

Staci- Hey thank you! While I really do enjoy Heroes, I never quite got into Twin Peaks. I think I had already missed a bit of it when I tried to watch it, and that seemed to make understanding it an impossibility!

Reforming Geek- Oh no, coordination is required? Then I'm in trouble, too!

Skye- I'm glad to help. Though I suggest you might not want to use Cabbages for any of your hard news information. I think you'd be disappointed in the quality. :)

FreetheUnicorns- Well, maybe you have a post there. :)

jay said...

I forget I've got StumbleUpon for weeks on end, until I hit the wrong icon by mistake and get transported .... somewhere or somewhen. LOL!

It's fun to use to see what's out there, but they often get my choices badly wrong. I've had pages of mine Stumbled, and I get a little flurry of traffic, but no new readers and it dies down very quickly. To my mind it ain't worth the work.

Skye said...

Not to worry Jenn, that's what I've got Silv and Jeff Rense for. Silv finds me lots of real news about the world, and well, that which he doesn't read to me, I can just find for myself over at Rense.com, great info there :)

xandiprice said...

wow, it all makes sense now.
well, aside from those damn circus people...