The internet is already super-good at pointing you towards information you’re looking for. That’s why around 90% of all web users visit Youtube, Google, Yahoo or MSN on a daily basis.

But the next generation of online information gathering is recommendation.

That is, advanced websites and programs designed to serve you content that you don’t know you want.

No two sites do this better than Stumbleupon and Pandora.



Stumbleupon is a toolbar you install in your browser.

After you create an account and pick some top-level interests (like “Internet,” “Photography”, or “Fishing), you click the “Stumble!” button on the corner of the toolbar and the magic begins.

The StumbleUpon algorithm takes you to an extremely interesting and popular site, as determined by the other members of the StumbleUpon community who share your interests.

And believe me, sometimes the sites you get are scary good.

The other day StumbleUpon took me to this list of company name etymologies. It combined my love of linguistics with my interest in business into a perfect storm of interestingness.

Unlike search engines that use a keyword to return relevant sites, StumbleUpon uses no search strings or inputs to return a result. It’s all based on recommendation and it works terrifically.



Pandora brings new music to your computer’s speakers.

The company gives musicians in Oakland a day job listening to music and categorizing it based on over a hundred different factors: language, key tonality, rhythm, major instruments, influences and grooves to name a few.

So when you type in a song title, Pandora builds a customized radio station for you based on the characteristics of that song.

You can discover great music that you’ve never heard of, and that’s not played on the radio.

Go give it a shot!

Do you know any other great online recommendation services?

Tags: Internet, internet business, internettools, pandora, Social Media, stumbleupon