Home » Web 2.0 Applications » Stumbling upon “Harnessing collective intelligence”

Stumbling upon “Harnessing collective intelligence”

Today i will be looking at the Web 2.0 pattern Harnessing collective intelligence.

This concept first defined by Tim O’Reilly during a conference to define Web 2.0.

“The real heart of Web 2.0 is collective intelligence, which I have defined as harnessing the network effect to build applications that get better the more people use them.” – Tim O’Reilly at the 2008 Web Expo

Harnessing collective intelligence is by creating an architecture of participation that involves revolves around user participation and network effects. This means users collaborate/interact with the website to provide data for themselves and for other users of the site. The more users who participate the better quality of information is gathered by the site and the vast amount of different sources are collected. A number of Web 2.0 sites such as Wikipedia, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr all utilize collective intelligence to create and generate their content. By harnessing the power of collective intelligence these Web 2.0 can then provide a better experience for its users, which in turn increases the sites retention rate.

Right so have you ever heard of the website Stumble Upon?

StumbleUpon is the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos and images from across the Web.

StumbleUpon is the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos and images from across the Web.

Stumble upon is basically a website that is based on the concept of stumbling around the internet (as you can probably tell by the name). Stumble Upon  finds and recommends web content to its users. It’s features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.

So how does it work? Setting up an account is super easy, once you have signed up and selected your initial interests such as sports, cooking, shopping, design or technology you click on the stumble button on the top of the page.

As you can see this page is an example of all the categories i am interested in.

As you can see this page is an example of all the categories i am interested in.

StumbleUpon will then generate the best websites/photos/videos out there based on your interests. You can then like/dislike the page and make comments on the content.

The act of like/dislike contributes to the quality of recommendations for you. Like most Web 2.0 sites there is the option to share via other social media websites such as like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn are provided, extending functionality and giving StumbleUpon a community feel. The power of behind this website is user collaboration/interaction through collective intelligence of the users interests.

By clicking the like button, users can  discover many great websites and even greater information that would never have been found by traditional searching methods.


By disliking pages users will be will be shown less of stuff base on that category.


Users pursue their own interests by liking/disliking certain pages. This process will then allow Stumble upon to categorize sites and improve how it selects websites for all users.


1 great feature is the Stumble tool bar, it allows you to like or dislike web pages from just click “I like it” icon or if you don’t like it click on the “thumbs down” button.


A secondary level of interaction is following other users, and channels. Being able to view others users profiles allows you to see what they are browsing, and follow their comments on other pages. This also is another aspect of harnessing collective intelligence.

In conclusion, StumbleUpon successfully harnesses collective intelligence via users liking/disliking sites associated with a particular interest. This assists in the categorization of sites, not just for themselves but for all users.  By collecting these user data it will not only improve recommendations but possibly promote websites for specific business organizations. Network effects is also achieved, as discussed the more users who participate and actively like/dislike, the more relevant the results are to users. This could also be an efficient way of looking up websites that interests you without using google! 😛





– http://webtrends.about.com/b/2008/04/24/the-collective-intelligence-and-importance-of-marketing-in-web-20.htm


20 thoughts on “Stumbling upon “Harnessing collective intelligence”

  1. Andy,

    Very interesting post! Stumble upon was not in my search list at all, and I definitely have not come across this website.

    What I agree most is the convenience of the like button that can benefit people’s life. Just like the “heart button” from my blog post where it shows great convenience to people’s daily life.

    The collective recommendations from people’s like or dislike button is truly a remarkable invention in web applications. The higher the number of category that is liked, the more popular it becomes.

    • Thanks for reading Jerfen, like myself stumble upon wasnt on my list and i had no idea such a website exists!

      Shows how far the web has evolved and how a lot of web 2.0 tools are now using collective intelligence to gather and spread information. Just a click of the like button and the website itself collects users data and preference just like the “heart button”.

  2. Wow. I never knew this web before. It’s one of the interesting sites I’ve known but I wonder why I never heard about this before.
    Stumble Upon has the same feature as Facebook, doesn’t it?

  3. This sounds like a great timewaster. 🙂

    Just curious – do you think StumbleUpon has any practical application, or is it just about pursuing your interests on the web?

    • Thanks for reading Amber, yeah abit of a timewaster, but i think it could possibly act as another search engine? You set preferences to your likes and the site itself will load websites based on categories and popular ones.

  4. Hi Andy~

    Really good example ~ i know the StumbleUpon it is a good platform to share your favorite Internet sites, according to personal interest tap webite received so that randomly display pages are almost always covered by the scope of your interest. Its harnessing collective intelligence everyones interest with you~ share the interest with other people also collecting from other people ~ 🙂

    • Thanks Denni! Yes its a great way to not only favorite your favorite site but also contribute to the the collective intelligence of the website, thus allow more people to benefit from the future as it grows!

  5. Hi Andy

    I’m also the one that never heard of StumbleUpon before. I think it is a great way to keep up with new interesting websites when people actually seeks new website everyday and I can just looking for the one that has lots of likes. That website should be more to my liking than randomly go through search engine like google.

    Prapat W.

    • Thanks for reading, yes its a great way to look at intested websites you are interested in, by liking and disliking Stumble Upon collects these information and uses it to enhance search and websites shown.

  6. Hello Andy

    Great post, I’m happy some introduce one of my favorite service.
    I first meet this service when I use iPad to browser in app store. I like the like/dislike idea which can personality your content.
    When I was boring I will open this app to find some interesting photo.

    I agree with Prapat W some time randomly can be a fun way to explore more content.

  7. Pingback: Rich User Experiences | andytang28

  8. hi Andy,
    Now i know one more website. I can find out and share many photos and videos on facebook. That is a great example for Harnessing collective intelligence.

  9. Pingback: The World of Ubiquitous Computing | andytang28

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