Top Informational Resources and Reference Points
If you want to quickly learn something, the following informational resources (several of which have already been mentioned) serve as excellent starting points.
- Wolfram Alpha: An incredibly advanced search engine (to get your bearings, see examples of how the tool can be used to discover a wide variety of useful information)
- YouTube: Videos on nearly any subject imaginable
- Wikipedia: The internet's ultimate crowdsourced encyclopedia
- WebMD: The internet's top reference point for health issues
- PubMed: Contains citations for biomedical literature from life science journals, online books, and MEDLINE
- The Internet Sacred Text Archive: An archive of books about religion, folklore, and the esoteric
- Phys.org: A leading tech, science, and research resource
- Planetmath.org: A community-constructed math resource (also see the Encyclopedia of Mathematics)
- The OECD: Social, economic, and infrastructure-related data on industrialized countries
- The United Nations' Population Division: Data on global populations (also see the United Nations' Human Development Report Office)
- The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom: Information about economic freedom around the world (also see research done by the International Monetary Fund)
- XooxleAnswers' National, State, and Local Newspaper Archives: Growing collections of American news archives
- 4researchers: A resource providing guidance on conducting research
- Project Gutenberg: Free ebooks
- Google Books: Access to thousands of books you can either preview of review for free
- The Library of Congress: Digital archives offering information on everything from law to American culture
- Google Scholar: Access to scholarly literature
Top Travel-Related Resources and Reference Points
The following travel-related resources make it easy to research and book trips with minimal effort and fuss.
- Yelp: A popular (if sometimes controversial) source of local business and restaurant reviews
- TripAdvisor: A helpful reference point when booking hotels and planning vacations abroad
- Kayack: A resource for booking cheap flights, hotels, etc. (also see Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotels.com, and note that TripAdvisor makes it easy to compare offers offered by multiple booking competitors)
- BBC News' Country Profiles: Summaries of countries' histories, politics, economic backgrounds, etc.
Top Entertainment-Based Resources and Reference Points
When looking for entertainment or information about entertainment, the following sites make for excellent reference points.
- IMDB: The go-to reference site for films
- Hulu: A convenient place to watch a wide range of current (and past) TV shows for free (though paid subscribers enjoy broader access)
- iTunes: Host to thousands of podcasts that are both educational and entertaining in nature
- Librivox: Free public domain audiobooks
- Documentarystorm: A source of free documentary films
- Know Your Meme: The ultimate reference site for internet memes (helpful as you assimilate to online culture)
- TV Tropes: A wiki for the tricks of the trade for writing fiction, featuring articles on common tropes in books, TV shows, and movies
- Can I Stream It?: A means by which you can determine whether a TV show or movie can be found (legitimately) streaming online
Top News Resources
According to eBizMBA, the internet's top news sites are:
- Yahoo! News*
- Google News
- The New York Times
- The Huffington Post*
- Fox News
- The Washington Post
- The LA Times
- Mail Online
- ABC News
*These sites contain a large amount of user-generated content, much of which has not been carefully edited or fact checked. Take information from such sources with a grain of salt.
The sites on which people settle are a matter of preference, however we recommend gleaning information from a variety of sources.
Should you want to review news stories from a variety sources on specific subjects and categories of your choosing, use Google News.
Top Learning Resources
The internet is teaming with high caliber online learning resources. Though we have summarized some of the internet's most popular structured learning destinations below, feel free to learn about these MOOCs and educational websites in more detail through our dedicated guide. Should you be specifically interested in developing better writing skills, see our compilation of free online writing courses and books from around the web (many of which are provided by well-known universities).
- Coursera: College classes replicating the traditional academic experience with full video lectures, quizzes, tests, and homework assignments
- Udacity: College courses presented through short, manageable video lectures and supplemented by project-based exercises
- edX: Video-based college classes that you can take at your leisure reinforced with engaging tools and labs
- Codecademy: Interactive coding lessons that enable you to learn by doing
- Udemy: Video-based courses offered by professors and professionals alike
- Lynda Training: Bite-sized video tutorials with a practical, professional focus
- createLIVE: Professionally-focused video courses you can watch live for free
- Curious: Free and inexpensive video tutorials on everything from academic and professional subjects to cooking and gardening
- Poynter’s News University: Online courses for journalists and those in the media industry
- Critical Thinker Academy: Video-based courses with written transcripts designed to help people develop better critical thinking skills
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