Sometimes it seems like the internet’s nothing but a series of arguments between strangers punctuated by memes and cat videos. But there are some wonderful sites where serious, collective discussion is going on; sites where “fake news” is banned and science shines through; sites where knowledge is happily being pursued every day. And the wonderful thing is that these resources are all at your fingertips, and they’re all completely free. They’re yours to use during a break, while traveling, over the weekend, to find facts, to engage in productive conversation, to escape, to learn.
Check them out. They can save you money, save you time, make you smarter, and boost your career.
- Find out the truth about what “everyone” is saying: We’ve all read articles about “this one weird ingredient” that can supposedly cure everything from lip sores to diabetes. Promises like these are very seductive, and they mean big business – and big bucks – for the companies behind the products they’re selling. Where can you go to find the truth about this kind of claim? Lots of people don’t know it, but there’s a section of Google called Google Scholar, which publishes scientific studies and articles on all kinds of subjects, from medicine to agriculture to patents to law and more, that you can easily search through to find out whether such claims have any basis in fact.
- Talk with people who know what they’re talking about: Once in a while, you just want to engage in some serious (yet lively and interesting) discussion with people who actually know something about a given subject. It can be anything that interests you: space exploration; the best way to write a love letter; are Macs really better than PCs? Or any of a million more. Now’s when you need Quora. Ask a new question or join an existing discussion and interact with experts to enjoy a fascinating back and forth on just about everything under the sun.
- Learn more about money matters: Your finances are a very big deal. Whether you’re just beginning your career and want to start saving, or you’ve got cash in the bank and aren’t sure of the best ways to invest your money in today’s rapidly fluctuating marketplace, the financial site Investopedia can guide you. This is a comprehensive site with everything you need to know about the world of investing, markets, and personal finance. There are informative articles, tutorials, videos, a great dictionary, and all the latest financial news, of course.
- Read this (when you don’t have time for a novel): Longform offers fascinating new and classic fiction and non-fiction articles and podcasts from around the web. The vast array of subjects ranges from the arts, history, sports, business and science to crime, politics, sex, technology, and more. On a recent Sunday, the home page featured a fiction pick called “Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Own Food Business”, a true-crime story, “The Crack in the Shield”, that took place in Brooklyn in the 1980s, and a current news story about a proposed telescope in Hawaii, “Sovereignty Under the Stars”. Each article takes at least a half hour to read, so they’re not mere nibbles; they’re real, nourishing food for your brain.
- Go here when you’re fresh out of ideas: 99U is a website which provides profound insights on productivity and creativity. While originally destined for artists, graphic designers and the like, the site has evolved into a formidable source of empowering articles and tools for everyone who wants to build an incredible career. Some of their most-read articles discuss how to get over a creative block, how to deal with failure, and how to jumpstart your motivation. Besides great articles and interviews, you’ll discover videos like this one featuring Cap Watkins, VP of Design at Buzzfeed, called “Treat Your Life Like a User Experience Problem”.