Bored? Here Are 10 Awesome Free Things On The Internet

Feeling bored by the Internet? Want to see something fun & useful that will truly rock your socks off and might just make your day?

Let us begin.

Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air – David JC MacKay

Described by Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow as “the Freakonomics of conservation, climate and energy”, this is a book you shouldn’t miss, not least because it’s available entirely for free. You can buy the book on Amazon (note the thirty-nine 5-star reviews) – but you can also read the entire contents online or download them in PDF form, free of charge.

Author MacKay is an English Physics professor, so he really knows his stuff. What is remarkable is how elegantly and breezily he conveys it. (This is no ponderous high school textbook). Want to know what it would really take to balance the energy budget? Want to know the real numbers behind renewable energy? This is the book for you.


The Brain Pickings of Maria Popova

Since 2005, Wired and The Atlantic writer Maria Popova has been reading more books than most people get through in a lifetime. If that wasn’t enough, she only reads good books – the most fascinating, quirky, inspiring and thought-filled reading material lining our shelves today. And if that wasn’t enough, she blogs about them too. Her website, Brain Pickings, now gets more traffic than the New York Review of Books, and no wonder – it’s a treasure-trove of suggested reads that may very well make you a better human being.

(Check out an interview with Maria here).

Read The Best Journalism On The Internet

Love good writing? Love reading? Love knowing what’s really going on in the world? Check out our reading list or our recent post on 10 sources of quality journalism – but if you don’t want to have to trawl for the good stuff yourself, there are websites that curate and archive the most fearless, insightful and beautifully-written journalism out there.

Try Longform (above)…

…and Longreads, and Byliner.

For a one-stop bookmarking of the good stuff, check out Conor Friedersdorf’s list of nearly 100 pieces of superb journalism. And if you have a Kindle – why not use to send these articles to it, and do your reading offline?

Browse the Open Culture Language List

Being bilingual gives your brain a good workout – we all know this, but there’s increasing amounts of scientific evidence to back it up. So why not take 10 minutes out of your day and start a new language? Problem: those courses can be pricey. Solution: this colossal archive of  free resources (ebooks, audio, video) for learning 40 languages from Arabic to Yiddish. (Thank you kindly, Open Culture).

Sloth Yourself Silly 

To keep your smile topped up, watch this trailer for Animal Planet’s Meet The Sloths every day. And if that doesn’t work, scroll through these 111 adorable pictures of them at Buzzfeed. Sloths – they bring the happy. (More cuteness at Slothville).

See The World Up Close

Earlier this year the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite orbited our planet six times and took a series of staggeringly detailed images that NASA stitched together and released on Flickr. The above image is one; this is the other. Incredibly beautiful, yes – but we’re not done yet. Under the “View All Sizes” buttons on each page you’ll find the original high-resolution image…and they will blow your mind: (Hi-Res Image 1)  (Hi-Res Image 2)

Know At A Glance When Your Edible Garden Is In Season

As you may have guessed by now, we love infographics – but we were particularly taken with this set from the good folk at Chasing Delicious. Work out when your fruit, vegetables and herbs are in season, and plan your meals accordingly.

Listen To Neil Gaiman Talk About Doing What You Love

A few months ago author Neil Gaiman was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and was asked to give the Keynote Address to the 2012 graduating class. The speech he gave has become an internet phenomenon, and is a must-watch for anyone doing anything creative (read: everyone).

For those on a tight schedule, the transcript is here.

Explore An Idea a Day With The Change This Manifestos

Running since 2004 and born of an idea by Seth Godin, the Change This manifestos are short, succinct and above all fun downloadable books built around ideas. Their authors are some of the internet’s smartest people (the aformentioned Seth Godin is a contributor). There are hundreds of titles to choose from, they’re all easy on the eyes and stretchy on the brain – and they’re all completely free. Get started here.

Let Jodi Ettenberg, Legal Nomad, Show You A World Of Food

Jodi Ettenberg is a globe-trotting food nut with a thing for spices and gluten-free cooking. An ex-lawyer, she’s been traveling the world since 2008 and garnering mentions in the New York Times and on Jason Kottke’s super-popular blog. Her site is a wealth of tips on traveling the world, but for sheer eye-candy you’d be wise to go to her food page and start clicking for some really incredible nom-shots.

Images: MSVG, orangeacid, NASA Goddard Photo & Video and David JC MacKay.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.