Bettejo (A Bead a Day) recently left a comment wondering how on earth I had "the time to research and come up with all the facts and pieces of information I post"? Well, I do enjoy reading a lot so it is not a chore. I also like collecting cool facts. Books are my best resources. The internet is also pretty good. However just as there are good books and books best composted, the internet has to be cherry-picked for reliable information.

The amount of information available on the web today is nothing short of explosive and is growing everyday. The Netcraft Web Server Survey started estimating numbers of websites in 1995 (18,000). The 100 million mark was crossed in 2006. And yet, it is a conservative figure as many websites were probably missed. Each website could also have many pages. This website attempted to estimate the total number of web pages based on Netcraft's website numbers and Yahoo's webpage indexing figures, arriving at a staggering 29.7 billion webpages on the World Wide Web as of February of 2007.

So with an ocean of information available, how can we possibly fish for the information we want? Using search engines like Google is a good way but bear in mind these internet "bots" only fetch you what you ask. If you don't use the right keywords or don't even know where to start, then finding great websites will be akin to finding a needle in a haystack. But if you pool the resources of millions of discerning surfers who not only fetch for you but review these sites as well, then you get StumbleUpon! It is one of the most enjoyable ways I use to find websites of interest, including jewelry sites.

First join this free service and download their toolbar. You also should set your preferences ie list the topics you are most interested in. There isn't a category for jewelry, so I chose crafts. I also added a whole bunch of other favourite topics like history and books.

Now comes the fun part. You can do three main things on StumbleUpon :

"Stumble" Click on the word on the toolbar and a random website previously discovered by another member will appear. You can give it a thumbs up or down. Click on the speech bubble if you were moved enough to write a review. The more positive responses, the more times that website will be recommended to other stumblers. Keep clicking "Stumble" for more websites. I didn't think one could exhaust a category but my friend Diana Norman confessed to stumbling right through the entire humour category one day!! One of my favourite stumbles is the website which makes bookcases and shelves from books - here is their funniest bookshelves section.

Recommend new sites. I quickly learnt I wanted to be the first to discover new sites. Not very mature, I know. When I do find a new website or webpage, I get slightly giddy with delight because I've beaten more than 4 million StumbleUpon members to it! I quickly hit the thumbs up sign and review it. After I stumbled Marika's blog post on her jump ring making I received a message from a fellow stumbler who was delighted with my discovery.

Social Network. Make friends and check out their StumbleUpon pages if you are socially inclined. I also provide a link to my personal StumbleUpon page (also on the right sidebar) for my blog readers to check out. Many of the links there have made it to my blog.

I initially joined StumbleUpon in order to share my best pages. Many stumblers enjoyed my post "A Jewelry Box of Quotations". But I've grown to like just stumbling. My very first stumble brought me to Subversive Jewelry, the clever website of New York artisan, Justin Giunta. His website (shown in the picture above) shows an old metal cabinet with drawers that open when you click on them. Many Stumblers loved that site! Dragon Mama showcased the amazing fantasy beadwork by Born of Beads. Crafista's list of 10 reasons why one should buy artisan jewelry was a hit with me.

So go ahead and stumble today!
The Beading Gem's Journal