How do I make the most of the Internet?
December 12, 2009 6:05 AM   Subscribe

How do I make the most of the Internet?

I find myself reading the same (primarily boring) websites on the Internet and want to make more use of my online time. What can I do to connect with others more effectively, to discover new ideas more easily, to partake in my hobbies more effectively, to become more innovative/creative or to contribute to society more?

All I seem to be using the Internet for at the minute is for checking Facebook and a couple of forums and blogs relating to my hobbies.

Please feel free to suggest ideas or specific websites.

posted by logicalsequence to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Read MetaFilter. Honestly. The blue part, where people post links to interesting stuff they've come across. That's what it's for.

Look for sites dealing with things you're interested in. People will suggest services like stumble upon or for this. Google works too.

Also, you don't have to be a heavy internet user just because everyone else is. There a lot of interesting information in paper books, a lot of times in a lot more depth than what you can find on the web - though the web's good for finding stuff you might have missed otherwise. If you just use the internet for email and keep up with a few blogs that interest you, that's OK actually.
posted by nangar at 6:31 AM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Internet is the most astoundingly accessible and powerful publishing machine ever made.

If you're not producing content for the internet, sharing your ideas on it, you are not getting the most from it, by far.

As a way to begin, try to spend equal time reading and writing online.
posted by fake at 6:36 AM on December 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

If you can tell us what your hobbies and interests are, and what kind sites you'd like to find, they're probably shared by at least a few MeFites, and you might get specific suggestions.
posted by nangar at 6:36 AM on December 12, 2009

I really like more than 90% of the content on youtube.
posted by simpleton at 6:45 AM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out for a great link aggregator as well as a fantastic community. It works by splitting itself up into what are called 'sub-reddits,' different sections of the site which are tailored to different interests: politics; sports; gaming; marijuana; communism, if you have an interest reddit will have a subsection for it. When you sign up (which takes all of 3 seconds, no need for email confirmation), you can pick and choose which 'subreddits' you want to appear on the frontpage, although you can easily browse as many as you like.

The comments are the best part of the website for me, there are lots of great discussions, I find the level of discourse to be a lot higher than one most other sites, although there are still idiots around of course, since this is the internet.

If you want, you can find me on there, my moniker on there is RacistTory :) (I'm not a Tory, not a racist)
posted by tumples at 7:06 AM on December 12, 2009

Set a goal for yourself. For example: I am going to learn something new every week this year.

Then set about doing it. With search services: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask. By going to link aggregators like MetaFilter. The Internet is the largest public library in the world. Hey, don't forget your public library.

The hard part is making yourself pick something to learn. Maybe it's something you saw on the news. Perhaps it's something you've always wanted to know how to do. Thinking of a future career change? There's no time like the present to begin learning.

You can do it. I know you can.
posted by netbros at 7:08 AM on December 12, 2009

Visit Wikipedia's main page daily.
posted by fire&wings at 7:27 AM on December 12, 2009

Best answer: If you want to get a feel for the current zeitgeist, what people are saying/thinking about a certain issue, search for it on Google Blog Search. I don't know what your hobby is, but if it's a specific niche that certain people get really excited about, you're likely to find relevant blogs by searching for it on Google Blog Search. If you don't find them, or you the blogs you do find are mediocre -- you can quickly start your own for free on Blogger.

If you'd like to discover some intelligent blogs that you could read on a regular basis but don't know where to start -- I understand this could be overwhelming. It's a huge ocean out there -- how do you find the best content? You could start with NYT's blogs and/or WaPo's blogs. Each of those sites has so many blogs that you're almost sure to find something that fits with your interests. I'm hardly suggesting that the best blogs are all on mainstream media websites -- but if you start reading a blog on NYT or WaPo, you'll find yourself clicking on their links to other blogs that have sparked discussion. Anytime you find a blog you like, check to see if that person has a list on the side of the screen of links to other blogs/websites. There's a good chance that if you find one blog interesting, you'll be interested in a lot of the links in that blogger's sidebar.

If you do start discovering more interesting online content to read, but you want a better way to organize it, you could try delicious (which lets you save specific links) or Google Reader (you have to find the links to the "feeds" of your favorite sites -- for instance, there are orange logos at the bottom of Metafilter that you could use -- and then Google Reader will deliver the latest content from those sites in a simple, unified interface).

I haven't directly answered the part of your question about "connecting" with people -- but blogs can facilitate this. If you're reading a blog you like (especially if it's run by just one or a few individuals rather than hosted on a mainstream site like NYT), make a point to post a comment. If you read comments by other readers that you like, try clicking on their usernames -- it might lead to more info about them such as their email address, Facebook, Twitter, etc., which could let you contact them outside the context of the blog.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:38 AM on December 12, 2009

I have assorted comments as opposed to a complete answer:

- the Internet is a fire hose, you can never take it all in, but do not ever doubt that there is plenty of interest out there

- I use the Firefox plug-in "Read It Later" so that I can save the links to sites/blog entries I want to go back to later and review, and another plug-in "GMarks" for my permanent bookmarks.

- I agree with metafilter, and wikipedia: most especially if you follow links. Also consider (where you can both get and share information).

- I also agree with the idea of a goal. A few years ago I saw a checklist about bringing my professional skills up to speed and thought it was daunting, but I gave it a shot. I am amazed at how much of that checklist (though certainly not all) I have now accomplished.

- remember the Einstein quote: "Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." Do mental push-ups.

- dovetailing with the previous point, you are correct to want to reach out to others because they will help you do mental push-ups and expand your points of view (although, of course, many on the Web will not be worth your time...that is realistic, not elitist)

- as for contributing, one approach is to watch for situations where it takes you a lot of time to figure something out (even with the help of the Web)...if a "how to" would have helped you, it would help someone else. Perhaps in your hobby you have some special talent or have overcome some challenge or live in a special location. The Web does not need dozens of "me too" tutorials, it needs more "this helped me in this unusual situation" tutorials

- participate in forums in your hobby/interest. Some have a "zero replies" thread where you can help others that have received no answers. Plus you never know when you will contact someone who will become a friend and/or stumble on the beginning of a new, shared project.
posted by forthright at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2009

Seriously: using it the least amount possible. Would that i would follow my own advice.
posted by sully75 at 9:47 AM on December 12, 2009

Approach it like grocery shopping: don't do it when you're hungry, and make a list beforehand.
posted by gyusan at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2009

Dig deeper. You can have a million points of data about random things, but truly knowing about a subject means digging beyond a couple wikipedia entries or blogs. What you read and find should lead you to harder-to-find resources, and eventually even locations and libraries and conversations you would not have otherwise had.
posted by mikeh at 2:33 PM on December 12, 2009

Surf wikipedia, following links that seem interesting. You'll learn, you'll laugh, you'll cry.

Find new music and listen to it. My favorite site for the former is rate your music, and there are lots of ways to do the latter depending on how you "roll."
posted by Rinku at 5:28 AM on December 13, 2009

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