What are some good websites to learn about (1) varied topics and (2) current events?
December 18, 2010 7:14 PM   Subscribe

What are some good websites to (1) learn about new topics in bite-sized chunks, and (2) to keep abreast of current events?

If this has been asked before, I couldn't find the thread.

The first question is rather broad, but what I'm looking for is a centralized location where I can learn about myriad topics in an easily digestible form. Wikipedia is a great reference, but after reading the pages on the World Bank and the IMF, for example, I understood much less than when I read an article I found online titled "The IMF and the World Bank: How Do They Differ?" Wikipedia gives too much detail, and it's hard to extract the salient points.

Ideally, the site would be navigable in a way where I could pick a category (law, politics, and economics are particularly weak areas for me; maybe even science, although I need less work there) and then find a list of things I might want to learn about. Alternatively, it could be something like a blog format, where every day I learn something new. It's hard to think of topics when I know nothing about them.

For the second question, I know I could just surf news sites, but again what I'm seeking is digestibility. I want to know the 10 hottest topics of the week, which I am happy to read about elsewhere. Mostly cocktail party conversation sorts of things.
posted by akprasad to Education (13 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I've actually used Simple English Wikipedia for easy-to-read, quick summaries of articles; this is great when the original Wikipedia article gives way too much specific, technical detail.
posted by suedehead at 7:23 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Week magazine has easily digestible current events summaries of the type you are describing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:25 PM on December 18, 2010

One way I've found of doing exactly this is reading the "Most Popular" section or any of its derivatives on a news website.

For example, I read the NYT "Most Popular" which is I think the top 10 most emailed articles for the day. I read it on my iPhone, and there are different categories, including Politics, World, Technology, and it refreshes pretty often. When I peruse those, I usually get a pretty good idea of what's going on.

For the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada, their website has Most Read, Most Emailed and Most discussed.

Also try going to the Economist every now and again and checking out a few of the front page stories.

General knowledge like this is great way to be able to maintain conversations with people. Good luck!
posted by althanis at 7:26 PM on December 18, 2010

newser, whose slogan is "read less, know more"
posted by thylacine at 7:31 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want to know current events type knowledge with a slightly deeper gloss than you'd get watching CNN, the BBC might be up your alley. I find that they tend to give really good background, as well as linking really well to related stories (the "Top Stories" and "Most Popular" sidebars are also pretty good).

So for instance let's say you checked out this article about UN peacekeepers in Cote D'Ivoire. There's an "analysis" sidebar (not sure if this is usual with all BBC articles, but OK, definitely interesting), and at the bottom of the page you have links to relevant articles on this same topic, links to coverage of the story from other news outlets, AND general web links about this issue.

Granted, the BBC is not going to run an article called "Political Science: Yep, It Still Exists!" that is going to be an exhaustive explanation of Poli Sci as a discipline. It's very much linked to news and features journalism. But it's definitely a start.

The BBC site is also fairly well hyperlinked, so it should be easy to jump around to different topics that might interest you.
posted by Sara C. at 7:39 PM on December 18, 2010

The Economist, for sure. Bite sized, relevant info that covers a lot of topics worldwide.
posted by muxnaw at 9:57 PM on December 18, 2010

it's not news it's FARK!


there's a lot of water-cooler conversation fodder and current events, too... but be prepared for it to be funny. this ain't CNN or FOX.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 11:06 PM on December 18, 2010

instructables or wikipedia for the former; nytimes.com, news.google.com and news.yahoo.com the latter
posted by lrodman at 4:09 AM on December 19, 2010


Big Think is a global forum connecting people and ideas.
posted by RoseyD at 6:30 AM on December 19, 2010

I like GIve Me Something to Read. It's a collection of the most popular / most interesting articles that users of Instapaper have marked out. Lots of interesting stuff to read over there.
posted by titantoppler at 6:58 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really like the Morning Brief from the Foreign Policy Passport blog. It's a great daily roundup of world news, divided up by continent. I get it via RSS.
posted by milestogo at 8:30 AM on December 19, 2010

"ShortNews is a news platform and community. Its philosophy is to allow a large amount of news to be absorbed in a short time. We limit ourselves to just the core facts in our news. So you don’t have to fight through pages of text to find what you want."

Also, the news channel at About.com.
posted by iviken at 12:49 PM on December 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all! Quite a few great news sources in there that I wasn't familiar with.

I'd come across the Simple English Wikipedia before, but had forgotten about it. I'll try it out when I'm trying to fit a lot of varied reading in.

This BigThink site looks _really_ incredible. I suspect I'll be spending many hours there. It's probably the closest to what I was looking for for question 1. I'm not sure if MeFiers typically answer questions that are more than a day or two old, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed to hear about more resources like that!
posted by akprasad at 11:36 PM on December 20, 2010

« Older Me and poor Crusoe are sharing the same fate.   |   Did you seriously just park there? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.