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RIP StumbleUpon. You’ll be missed for the simpler internet you once represented

RIP StumbleUpon. You’ll be missed for the simpler internet you once represented
[Photo: StumbleUpon, Inc./Wikimedia Commons]

Back when the internet seemed smaller, StumbleUpon was one of the best ways to waste time on it. When you pressed the “Stumble” button, the site would whisk you along to a random web page–perhaps a beautiful photo, a funny video, or a thought-provoking listicle. You could also improve StumbleUpon’s recommendations with thumbs up or thumbs down buttons, or stumble around within specific interests.

You might be surprised to learn that StumbleUpon is still around after more than 16 years–during which time it cycled through several business models, was bought by eBay, was subsequently reacquired by its founders, and has been used by more than 40 million people–but it won’t be for much longer. As TechCrunch reports, StumbleUpon will shut down on June 30, and existing accounts will be transferred to Mix.com, a newer site from founder Garrett Camp that creates curated collections around specific interests. Until then, you can hop around StumbleUpon once more for old time’s sake. (No need to shed a tear for Camp; he’s also the co-founder and chairman of Uber.)

The clearest explanation for StumbleUpon’s downfall is the rise of news feeds on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which have steadily eaten up the kind of idle time that StumbleUpon once occupied. But on some level, StumbleUpon just isn’t a good fit for the vastness of today’s internet. Social media feeds, for better and for worse, curate the internet in a way that bouncing semi-randomly between web pages never could, which might explain why a lot of us forgot about StumbleUpon long before it ceased to exist.

StumbleUpon will be missed, but less for what it is than for what it once represented.

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