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We all need new ideas and stimulation to keep us going in life and interested in the world. The development of the web has brought with it a huge range of information and resources on every conceivable subject. Below are a couple of great places to find new ideas, inspiration and challenges to the way you see the world.
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been around for over 250 years, and offers ideas, analysis and projects focussed on creating a better, more enlightened society. In recent years, it has become a very interesting prescence on the web, with videos, cartoons and audio versions of its live events available for free on its website. It covers a massive range of subjects, and is well worth checking out.
A non-profit organisation dedicated to spreading great ideas. Every year a number of interesting and unusual speakers are challenged to give 'the talk of their lives', and the videos of many of these talks are available for free on their website. These aren't your usual awkward talks with poor powerpoint visuals - either the ideas are new or the methods of presentation, or often both. To start with, have a look at this amazing presentation of statistics on global poverty and development.
NEF produce lots of interesting reports and ideas on how to live happier, wiser and more meaningful lives. For example, have a look at their Happy Planet Index to see the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered in different countries across the world. Or check out their Time Bank - a way for people to come together to help others and help themselves at the same time.
‘Information design’ is a discipline that helps people to make sense of raw data and figures, by presenting them visually in new and interesting ways. One of the leading proponents of this technique is www.informationisbeautiful.net, and if you visit their site you will find links to other sites doing similar work. Information design can be a powerful, useful and rather beautiful way of understanding the complexity of the world, but as a reader, you need to be careful that the ‘information designers’ aren’t presenting the data in a slightly biased way – just read the charts carefully and have your wits about you!