Thanks to my ever forward-looking colleague, Joe Dolson, I have "stumbled upon" StumbleUpon and PreFound, two relatively new, "human-based" browsing engines. What’s a browsing engine? As the name suggests, it is similar to a search engine, but differs in the fact that all listings reflect the experience and opinions of users just like you and me, as opposed to the almighty keyword. Although I have not engaged in a full-scale search, believers say that searching on one of these engines drastically cuts down your search time because you are getting "potent" stuff, the results of others culling through the crap proffered by the machine-based engines.

I registered for both engines, and after checking off my various interests for StumbleUpon, one of which was liberal politics, I was greeted with a very entertaining Bush-bashing video which gave me an adrenaline rush so that I soared through my afternoon work with vim, vigor, and vitality! My initiation to PreFound was a bit more traditional in that I was greeted with a standard-type search page.

To use Stumbleupon, you must join it, a process that takes about 5 minutes. You install a toolbar on your IE (Internet Explorer) or Firefox browser, and then pick your interests from a vast selection. Once you have done those things, you are then ushered to a site such as the Bush-basher that thusly invigorated my afternoon. Then, you can search the database to your heart’s content, and here’s where some users say their spouses are ready to deep-six them. The other neat thing about StumbleUpon is you can vote on sites you like, and those you don’t.

Although you can register with PreFound to become one of the official community members and participates, you don’t need to join to search.

What is cool about both sites is that by registering, and then voting upon sites, you actually participate and have a say in this vast cyber-universe; as well, the results you get in return will be more useful and rich than what you would get off machine-generated searches.