Friday, May 27, 2011

Top 6 + 1 Sites That Inspire & Educate


If you're a professional who likes to be intellectually stimulated and you enjoy keeping up with the latest news 
and breaking trends, the internet provides you with an endless choice of carefully curated sites to visit. Today, we bring you six of them that we believe are leaps and bounds above the rest. These sites will not only educate you on topics ranging from business and technology to art and design, they'll motivate you to find your own, original ideas and see them through. They're culturally relevant, they're idea driven and most of all, they're deeply inspirational.

1. TED

TED is short for three incredibly important subjects in our modern world; technology, entertainment and design. Started in 1984, TED brings together the most brilliant minds to teach us about issues that matter. Their mission is simple: to spread ideas. Their passion to change the world comes through in their inspirational talks. Next time you want to hear real stories from amazing people who do mind-blowing work, watch a TED talk.

Tip: Download TED's free iPad app to browse through 800 videos by date, popularity or keyword. Make sure to check out their Inspire Me feature which lets you find videos that not only fit your mood (inspiring, funny, etc) but your schedule (how much time you have). The talks range from 3 minutes to 30 minutes long.

2. Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings started from very humble beginnings. Its founder, Maria Popova, a UPenn student at the time, explains it best. "I started publishing, one curated item per day Monday through Friday, without much of a strategy," she says, "just pursuing my own curiosity and digging for nuggets of stuff that inspires, that gives you pause, that makes you connect dots you didn't realize were connectable. Over time, it just found its audience." Ultimately, Popova wants to make ideas not only accessible but relevant. More than anything, her site challenges you to see patterns, to discover how pieces of life's puzzle sometimes fit surprisingly together. 

Tip: With over 63K Twitter followers, Brainpicker has a strong audience...and for good reason. Make sure to follow them if you want to see some well-curated culture links from not just Brainpicker's website, but from all around the web.


Though focused on design, advertising, and technology, PSFK is a must-read for anyone who wants to be on the cusp of new trends and emerging ideas. With an editorial staff that spans the globe, PSFK brings you interesting stories from broad viewpoints. Visit PSFK daily to see what creative professionals are currently talking about. You'll find everything from great advice, like Tips For Getting A Project Funded On Kickstarter, to inspirational talks from founders of companies likeThrillist.

Tip: Attend a PSFK conference, workshop or event to hear about the latest trends and ideas first-hand. Each year, PSFK brings together the world's leading creative thinkers and business leaders to a conference in a major metropolitan city. To get a feel for the type of talks you can expect to hear, check out their video round up from years' past.

4. Kottke

Kottke is an influential blog that was started by Manhattan, New York-based Jason Kottke back in 1998. It's a site that not only brings together interesting ideas in science, technology and art, among other subjects, it also summarizes that information in a personal way that makes it applicable to the reader. Smart and insightful, Kottke was recently recognized as one of Time's Best Blogs of 2010and was described this way by the American news magazine, "Touting only smart, stimulating items worth adding to the public sphere, Kottke.org is part odd-news aggregator and part archival treasure dig -- consistently one of the most surprising domains on the Web." We couldn't agree more.

Tip: Kottke is working on a new web app/site called Stellar which helps you discover and track your favorite things online. You can follow Stellar's Twitter account for updates or request an invite onStellar's webpage.

5. Information is Beautiful

Information is Beautiful was started by London-based writer and designer David McCandless. It's a blog that takes information - facts, data, ideas - and turns it into well-designed charts, graphs and data visualizations. Relevant to not just designers but anyone who appreciates statistics and facts, this site will not only keep you entertained, it will educate you on the world we live in.

Tip: Pick up the 256 page Information is Beautiful book for a comprehensive, visual guide to the way the world works. Great for inspiration on how to present your information in new and interesting ways.

6. The 99 Percent

The 99 Percent recently won the 15 Annual Webby Awards for best Cultural blog. Behance's think tank, The 99 Percent focuses on what happens after inspiration. The website is filled with inspiring interviews, action-oriented tips, and tried and true best practices. They also have an annual conference that's designed to help you turn your ideas into a reality. Held each spring, the conference is a two day event that brings over 400 creative people together to hear accomplished professionals talk about lessons they've learned on their journey to success. 

Tip: Founder of 99% Scott Belsky recently wrote a book, called Making Ideas Happen, where he's collected personal stories from the leaders of top companies like Google, Disney and Zappos, finding out what methods they used to helped propel their companies forward. With practical tips, this book will help anyone in a company, big or small, see what it takes to bring their ideas to fruition.

Which websites do you visit to be both educated and inspired?

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms


Another inspiring RSA Animate taken from a speech given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education expert and recipient of the RSA Benjamin Franklin award.

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