My stumbleUpon addiction…

2 05 2007

I have become totally addicted to StumbleUpon, I have made some very good friends, people with interesting things to read about, people with the most interesting “stumbled” websites, that I would never have known about if I was not on there.

I was also reminded of a lot of things I have forgotten by seeing the things that other people liked and are interested in and the books they read, music and movies they like and quotes and references that make you go: “Hey, now I remember having read that so and so said such and such in this or that book that I read when something or other was happening in my life.” And I think herein lies the power, and the uniqueness of StumbleUpon.

Most “social networking” sites out there today is very much ego-driven, users trying to put the most controversial, foul-mouthed or trashy content on their video or photo sharing site and see it run up the hits. And all the blatant commercialism and flame wars and trolling and trying to be the hottest flavour of the moment type of hype, it all becomes such a waste dump in a short amount of time. And tiresome…

With StumbleUpon, you have real quality interaction with real quality people with real quality and knowledgeable interests. It is not intrusive at all: I will describe my stumbling habits, just from being on there the last couple of days.

After posting my initial introductory profile and filling in what music, books and movies etc I like and a bit of personal background etc. I just “stumbled” around (the Firefox extension toolbar is a “must-have” download), and on your own  page, there appear little numbers next to your music, movie, book and things-you-like interests. This is to see how many other “Stumblers” have also listed the same. Click on any of your likes and the names and little thumbnail pics of people on StumbleUpon with the same likes appear on your page, you can then click on any of those to go to that user profile page, read their intro paragraph, see what else they’re interested in. Mostly those that appear will have several overlapping interests. From any of a number of options you can choose to see what they have liked most, or their latest entries or any sites in their “likes” categories or “tags”. Clicking on any of those will bring up links and in most cases a pic of the sites they visited. Most of it is very interesting and you can get lost in a timewarp just following their interconnected web of “likes and favourites”. I certainly have.

Now the magic begins. Each stumbler whose profile or page you visited, will have a number show up next to their network tab at the top of their page, this shows how many people have visited. Chances are if you filled out all your likes (books, movies, music, tv shows, etc.)  someone is bound to come and see what you have to show at some point. When that happens, normally you visit the person’s page in return, see what they have on their page, and then you may click on the contact button after deciding to add them as friend and gently introduce yourself, saying you saw on your network page that they visited you, thank you, and that you added them as friend and visited their page as well, that you share similar likes, and complimenting them on beautiful pictures, excellent sites reviewed or anything else and that they must please feel free to chat.

And that is the magic that sets the ball rolling, these people become your friends, their friends show up in your network as friends of friends, and exponentially the whole thing just continues to grow with people more likely to visit friends of friends’ links and people that show up in their networks and everything is cross-referenced with everything else.

I am more and more amazed at the amount of thought and planning that must have gone into programming this site, and designing it in such a way that none of it is intrusive, you have a totally private websurfing experience, you choose whom to visit and whom to ignore or block and there is no need for in-your-face ads, in fact, the site is completely ad-free, a blessing in todays over-commercialized blogosphere, where Google ads and annoying, flashy jumpy crap occludes any quality content that you may have been interested in at some point, but just click away from because of all the fluff. StumbleUpon relies on a “sponsor” model, where for US$20 you become a sponsor, with additional privileges and a specific little block color button on your profile and next to your little thumbnail pic, indicating you as such, in this case green. Anyone else starts out with a little white block that normally fills out gradually in blue as you gain more “fans”, that is friends you have made on StumbleUpon and added you as friend on their pages and or it can also mean how many have reviewed your page on StumbleUpon.

One friend whose profile I visited reminded me of a book I forgot about and did not put in my “likes”. It is Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read it years ago at a retreat center I worked at before going to Burma to ordain as a Buddhist monk. I remember it very vividly because reading that passage made me laugh until my stomach hurt.

There is a scene where the travellers have to stop at a gas station in the middle of the desert and have the motorcycle fixed, and there are these Zen monks, the older of which can tell what’s wrong with a car by sticking his finger in the engine and listening, he onely has one finger left when our heroes get there. Anyways, Coyote is fooling around as always and comes upon a very serene and holy Zen monk. The monk looks at him and asks him, in a somewhat patronizing tone:

“Does a dog have Buddha Nature?”

And Coyote goes: “Does a fish have a watertight asshole?”

The Zen monk contemplates this for a while, breaks out in an astonishing realization and goes:

“You’re wise.”

Anyways, point is I would not have been reminded of that were it not for StumbleUpon.

To see more of my “Stumbles” and where I have been stumbling around, click on the link and also check out the RSS feed in the sidebar.


stumble upon

27 04 2007

i stumbled upon the most amazing site today…

it is called…, wait for it…., wait for it…, stumbleupon and i think it is the best thing since bread came sliced.

From the moment I followed a link from Mark Shuttleworth’s blog over there I knew this was gonna be somewhere I would linger for a long time. I have already made friends and people with similar interests are easy to find. Just fill out your profile, put in what you like and what you are interested in, load up a photo and see the magic happens. Everything is tagged, so you see people with the same music, book, movie and hobby interests as yourself, you can then choose to visit their profile page, and depending on what you see, you can link to them as friends, make contact through stumble upon’s own online messaging system. Awesome.

One thing about StumbleUpon is the absence of mindless crap and teenage fluff so characteristic of many social networking sites today. The type of people hanging out at SU is decent, intelligent folks and there is no problem with spam and trolling and any such nonsense. Also, the way the site works is evidence that a lot of thought and planning has gone into it. You can flag anything you come across as adult or R-rated, you can report spam, abuse and other undesirable stuff from the tollbar as one of the options, and you can block any annoying or undesirable elements’ profile from seeing or hearing or receiving anything from them. I have yet to see such safeguards work so well and effective in preventing crap from ruining your social web experience on other sites.

No commercial fluff either. I am amazed at having made quite a few friends just in the few days I have been on there, whatever it is that you have put in your profile as being a favourite, it is cross-indexed and searchable and tagged, so you can click on any of your favourite books, movies, author, music and you are presented with a network of Stumblers that share similar interests.

The messaging system is awesome, each one has his/her own inbox and you can contact any person and the message are sent to their inbox on the SU server, no privacy is invaded and never does anyone know your real e-mail, you keep the communication strictly on SU.

It works best with the Firefox add-on, you get a functional toolbar, and a totally awesome website is just a click away.  Upon finding what you like, you can review it by clicking the toolbar or right-clicking on an image and it is inserted along with your review, which is very convenient and easy to do.

Here is my own little corner on Stumble Upon, go there and see what pages I have reviewed and subscribe to my feed…:)

pagoda in bagan, myanmar (burma)

14 03 2007

bagan, myanmar (burma)

welcome to oblonski’s

14 03 2007

welcome to oblonski’s

The urge to wanna start blogging overcame me and I had to give in, what can I say? Anyways, welcome to anyone who find themselves here, I hope you will find something interesting to read or mull over. This will essentially be a personal blog, with me putting here pictures and articles and written pieces about what currently is blowing my hair back. Not that I have any hair…

A short introduction: My name is oblonski, 32 year old male. I live in a small village high up in the mountains of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen, I do graphic design and I’m trying to be good at Photoshop…

Apart from all that I also try different Linux distro’s from time to time, I like PCLinuxOS 0.93a the best and Knoppix 5 and Fedora Core 6 is a close second. I have a Pentium 4, 3.2Ghz, 1Gb RAM dual-booting Win XP Pro and PCLinuxOS 0.93a, which I connect with Sigmatel irDA dongle to my Nokia mobile to get online.

My favourites:


Lord of the Rings Trilogy- JRR Tolkien,

Pi – Daryn Aronofsky, Star Wars (entire series) – George Lucas,

Harry Potter (entire series) – JK Rowling,


Legends of the Fall,

First Knight


Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy – Douglas Adams,

DUNE – entire series – Frank Herbert,

Kim Stanley Robinson – Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars

AA Attanasio – Last Legends of Earth, Radix, The Dark Shore, The Shadow Eater, Wyvern

Raymond E. Feist – Magician, Darkness at Sethanon,

Techgnosis – Erik Davis,

365 TAO: Daily Meditations – Deng Ming-Dao

I Ching – Stephan Karcher (translator)

Photoshop and Dreamweaver Integration – Colin Smith

Photoshop 7 Bible Professional Edition – Deke McClelland

Godel, Escher, Bach – Douglas R. Hofstadter

The Art of Strategy, a new translation of Sun Tzu’s classic, The Art of War – R.L Wing

Healing with Ki-Kou: The Secrets of Ancient Chinese Breathing Techniques – Li Xiuling


Coldplay, REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down,

Psy-trance – Tsuyoshi Suzuki, Prana, GMS, Juno Reactor, Green nuns of the Revolution et al

Drum ‘n Bass – Roni Size, Grooverider, T-Power, ShyFX, LTJ Bukem et al

At the moment I listen to: Buddha Bar vol. VII