Yesterday’s newsletter topic was that of subcontracting and in discussing situations where it can both hurt and help your project when the software vendors and large services firms do it. (The link to signup for the free newsletter: http://www.geometrick.com/newsltr_signup.htm ) As I always do when the newsletter goes out, I took a quick look to see which of the links I provide people are using. For example, if the actual newsletter topic’s link does not interest the group, I tend to steer clear of that topic, in the future. If there are particular topics and links the group seems to like, I try to provide more of them. At the bottom of the newsletter, there are a number of links that the newsletter software provides: del.icio.us, Digg, reddit, Facebook, StumbleUpon. Every once in awhile, someone will click one of these links and I always wonder if they are using that link or just trying it out to see where it goes.
This month, there was a rash of people using StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon ( http://www.stumbleupon.com/ ) is a web-site that helps you to “stumble upon” various web-sites. You can rate these sites. You can share your own “stumblings” with other people, if you think you have found something interesting. The idea is that it helps you “stumble upon” the best sites for your own interests and to help others to do the same, both by rating the sites and by sharing them.
In any case, I would have had my usual ponderings about whether these people making the links were merely trying it out, but I noticed a couple things. First of all, it wasn’t just a few people but quite a lot of people that clicked on it. Second of all, it wasn’t a random assortment of people who just happened to start using this tool, but a very specific group of people.
When we find useful web-sites, some might initially think there are two primary ways to share and promote these links: we send the link out via e-mail to people we think would be interested, or we post the link to our own web-site to create a list of such links. I should also mention that web-sites and blogs can also specifically link themselves together when they share a common goal or information and want to encourage linking to each other. But using something like StumbleUpon is yet another way to share these sites. Unlike these other ways of linking or sharing web-sites and blogs, StumbleUpon only shares those that the readers are truly interested in.
Some of you are still wondering what the difference is between one person sending you a list of links, or in going to share links with the world in something like StumbleUpon. So, if I send you a list of links that I think are great, that’s all it is – my single opinion. If ten of us did that, we could all read through the links and compare them. If 100 of us did that, it would be difficult to sort through them to compare and collate the information. Instead of each sending each other an individual e-mail, if 100 of us went to something like StumbleUpon and actively shared and rated the sites, the most useful or interesting sites would like rise to the top and, for the person that doesn’t know where to start looking for information in our industry, they could start with the sites that were most highly-rated, first.
Thus, maybe some people are starting the next wave of information-sharing in our industry by doing this. It could be a good way to share the interesting links within our industry with the rest of our industry. Or, for those companies that are creating internal information-sharing plans, this is a way to share information within their company, as well.