The merits of StumbleUpon are numerous - it's a wonderful time-occupier and a great place to explore the far corners of the internet. Most of its appeal stems from the fact that it is a "discovery engine," something related to but entirely different from a standard search engine.
StumbleUpon's new Explore Box, however, is putting a little more targeted search into the experience. The new feature, which we told you about last month, is still in beta according to a press release.
The official StumbleUpon YouTube channel has released this short video explaining the new box. "Easily explore thousands of interests. When you're interested in something new, the Explore Box has something for you."
With the explore box, users can enter specific topics that they want to stumble - for instance, Lady Gaga, Vampires, Bourbon, Guitars. Once they begin stumbling that specific topic, they can easily opt out of it in the top toolbar and go back to stumbling all interests.
StumbleUpon already lets you narrow your stumbling down to categories, but those categories aren't all that specific (Music, Art, Technology, American Literature, Alternative Rock). This new Explore Box expands the topics that you can stumble from around 500 to hundreds of thousands.
"Millions of people already enjoy stumbling to be entertained and inspired, and the Explore Box now makes content discovery easier for those who want a more precise way to explore their interests," said Garrett Camp, StumbleUpon CEO and co-founder. "The Explore Box enables discovery for anything you want to learn about, and surfaces the hidden gems you can't find anywhere else."
The new feature definitely makes the "discovery engine" a little more like a search engine. But it shouldn't take away from the randomness that makes StumbleUpon so much fun. For instance, my targeted exploration of "Bourbon" netted me articles about different types of Bourbon, recipes with Bourbon, the Bourbon-making process, the French House of Bourbon, and other tangential topics.