Wow, so Facebook is bringing us an incredible new world of being social and everyone seems willing to fall for their ‘kitchen sink’ approach to making you believe that they can provide everything you need so you don’t have to wander outside of their gardens. Never mind serendipity just sign over your your willingness to explore outside of the bounds of what your so-called friends think is important.
Thank goodness not all social networks are going down this road and right at the forefront of this alternative way of discovering priceless gems on the web is StumbleUpon; who announced to day that rather than throwing the kithen sink into the mix they are actually getting rid of stuff.
While Erica Ogg at GigaOM thinks that there will be some pretty upset users when these changes roll out I; as a happy StumbleUpon user, am really glad to see at least one company that recognizes its core competencies and phase out the things that take time away from making a better company and user experience.
Unlike Facebook and its obvious desire to create a whole new web StumbleUpon is trying to make the web we have more discoverable one thumbs up at a time which means anything that isn’t directly related to that experience is up for retirement.
One of the first things to go will be the ability of users of the service to customize reviews of the stuff they find via StumbleUpon. As such there will be no HTML support in reviews and no ability add photos to those reviews. It is StumbleUpon’s feeling that while some of the services that are getting cut were needed in the early days, days before sites like Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, but due to the change in the web and social networks StumbleUpon needs to get back to its roots – social discovery.
“Other platforms frankly do a really good job of [customization and self-expression] and that’s what they’re all about. While certain [StumbleUpon users] may not want to go, other services do offer a better experience of that,” said Marc Leibowitz, Stumble Upon’s vice president of marketing and business development, in an interview Thursday. Essentially, they want their users to come for the social discovery, and go elsewhere for other stuff. Leibowitz said that they know based on how people share StumbleUpon URLs that many of their users are already using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and others for blogging anyway.
Attempting to put the changes in perspective, he noted how different the social web is today versus when his service got its start:
It’s amazing how StumbleUpon started in a day and age when the searching we take advantage of now didn’t exist. Google was just getting started. There are things and microblogging services that hadn’t even been conceptualized when StumbleUpon was already a few years old. The things we built out of necessity because they didn’t exist elsewhere are no longer warranted.
Of course there will be an uproar as these parts of StumbleUpon are removed but for once I am glad to see a company realize where its strength lie and concentrate on making the best they can be instead of falling for the “me-too” syndrome.