The Internet is Awesome (or, Some Ways To Waste Time)

1. Tumblr

If Twitter is blogging for the ADHD kids, Tumblr is for the dyslexic. Set up an account and follow the (predominantly visual) blogs of your choice to create a news feed of sorts. You create your own blog by sharing other people’s pieces, or creating ones of your own, a la Twitter. It’s quick, simple and addictive!

Before the literary snobs scoff at Tumblr’s picture book appearance, I have to mention that you can follow pages by The New Yorker, The Guardian, the Paris Review and Reuters. I’ve also found several pages with interesting infographics and gifs illustrating mathematical or scientific concepts (computational fluid dynamics anyone?). There are also many, many fan pages for TV shows that post hilarious gifs almost as soon as a new episode releases.

Highly recommended for anyone into art, illustration, or English TV and movies. Others might find it a little harder to find worthwhile blogs to follow, but definitely worth a shot.

2. Reddit

They call themselves the front page of the Internet. Pushing it, but this question and answer site is definitely very entertaining. And addictive. Extremely addictive. There are subreddits for everything under the sun, from television to music to science to fitness to recreational drug usage. My current favourite is r/suggestmeabook, where people put up their preferences and get recommendations from other users. It’s a very different experience from the automated suggestions you get on Goodreads and other book database sites.

A bonus: the redditisfun app is well designed and the plaintext format of the site lends itself well to viewing on a small phone screen.

3. Coursera

One of the largest platforms for MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – today. You can study courses as diverse as Biochemistry and Philosophy, all in the comfort of your home. And for free! Be warned, though, that you’ll probably only get a general idea of the subject unless you have the motivation to complete all the assignments and exams. For more technical topics, explore the MIT CourseWare and Stanford Online courses as well.

The question on everyone’s mind: Can I put this on my CV? The answer: NO.

4. Stack Exchange

I owe the guys at Stack Overflow half my salary. That aside, did you know that Stack Exchange has pages for language, cooking, travel and board games? This site’s USP is it’s no-nonsense, formal style. Correct answers are marked, and poor or off-topic responses (and questions, too) are downvoted into oblivion. So rest assured that any information you get from this site is accurate. Well, more accurate than most of the stuff floating around the Net these days…

5. XKCD/ PhD comics

PhD comics provides insight into the lives of grad students that’s alternately inspiring and disturbing. As a bonus you get valuable life lessons such as: never title your project reports something like report_final.txt. It’s like asking fate to smite you.

Silly, geeky and sometimes touching, xkcd is a must read for anyone who knows what angular momentum is. The what-if section is legendary amongst the geekiest of the geeks and for good reason. Humour+science+stick figures= WIN.

Strongly recommended for all engineers. Yes, even you pseudo-engineers. XKCD provides explanations for all their comics, so there is no excuse!

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