Compiled by Sandy Florez, posted March 8, 2011

A collection of websites for inspiring and thought-provoking exchanges of ideas:

TED – Ted’s slogan says it all: “Ideas worth spreading.” What started it out as conference in 1984, has become the go-to internet destination to sit back, watch, and get inspired by the stories and ideas of thinkers and do-ers around the world. The website is basically a collection of videos where speakers at “ted talks” speak about a specific issue or idea. With themes ranging from technology, entertainment, design, and business to global issues, TED offers a platform for the exchange of the ideas.

1 in 8 million –  Described in a nutshell as  “New York Characters in Sound and Images,” is a multimedia project produced by The  New York Times that gave a voice to the unheard of New Yorker – the subway musician, the corner barber, a teenager. The project is not only incredibly crafted technically, but the short video and audio narratives are inspiring and give you a glimpse into the life of a stranger, whose story might otherwise be ignored.

The Do Lectures – Much in theme with TED, The Do Lectures philosophy is simple: “That people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things too”. With that train of thought, David and Clair Hieatt created the website “The Do Lectures” to produce video talks with a groups of people whoa re, well, doing something. The hope is to inspired the viewer to get up and do something themselves.

How Stuff Works – This websites is great for learning about how just anything works. It explains thousands of inventions and theories. Uses lots of videos and diagrams to make understanding easier. Great for when you randomly wonder about something you find interesting and want to know all about it.

Change  This – Similar to TED and The Do Lectures in the goal of spreading great ideas, Changethis aims to reach audiences not through video talks and conferences but through the written word. On Change This, you can finds hundreds of “manifestos” or proposals, with thoughtful discussion of various topics. Each manifesto opens as a PDF, has pictures and a very clean look. Easy to read, informative and creative. – The concept for 42 things is kind of interesting. The site prompts you to list your goals and share them with the world. The idea is that by making your goals public, you are more prone to actually reaching them. The site is great because you can skim through hundreds of pages of stranger’s goals, offer advice and support and track your own progress. You can also set “reminders” of your goal list to be emailed to you by the site.

MIT Open Courseware – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is pretty tough to get into, but thanks to MIT’s online coursework website, you can pick your brain alongside the students in an MIT classroom. There are free lecture notes, exams, and videos from MIT. It’s like going to college — a really good one — for free.

Eye Witness to History – The tagline reads, “history through the eyes of those who witnessed it.” This is great for feeding your late-night curiosity about all the fascinating things throughout history you wish you lived through. Ever wonder what it was like when Ghandi was assassinated? Maybe not, but it’s pretty cool to find out. Eye Witness to History gives you first hand accounts from the people who experienced it. Great way to make you think and gain unique perspective.

Why Not – Unlike some of the other websites listed, Why Not? uses its own site visitors for content. In other words, visitors generate the ideas and share them with others.  Very nifty to browse through and find solutions and better ways to do practical and every day errands.

Academic Earth – If MIT isn’t enough for you, try Academic Earth to watch videos of courses from the best universities in the world!  Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and many more. A fantastic resource.

Stumble Upon – This is a fantastic site that only cures mild office day boredom, but actually caters to your likes and interests, your time not he web isn’t wasted. Think of it like you’re flipping channels on your TV, stopping on your favorite show — except it’s the Internet and the channels are your pages. When you sign up, you’re asked to choose your interests — writing, arts, technology, social media, humor, history, fitness, etc. After Stumble Upon gets to know you, you begging to ‘stumble’ upon pages it thinks will interest you. Addicting, fun and surprisingly useful.

BBC Human Body and Mind – For science geeks and wannabes, BBC’s Human Body and Mind website is great for exploring the most interesting aspect of the internet — its users. From interactive tools that illustrates the workings of the human body to free and interesting psychological tests, this website is a great for getting acquainted with, well, you.

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