Em’s List of Awesome

Here’s a mini-smorgasbord of cool stuff I like from the Internet and which I hope you might like too.

Got suggestions for the List of Awesome? Comment below or email eccoyte@gmail.com and I’ll give it a look – a long List of Awesome is a good List of Awesome.

Top picks

Kiva – a website which makes you an awesome banker. You make microloans of $25 to individuals and groups of your choice who might otherwise never get financial support. It’s a hand-up, not a hand-out, and I’ve made over 20 loans now and have always been repaid. To get us both a free loan, sign up using this link: http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/emily18205201.

Nerdfighteria – a massive online community of people who share the goal of “increasing levels of awesome and decreasing worldsuck” AKA making the planet a better place. The founders, Vlogbrothers Hank and John Green, are two people who are truly inspirational to me. Nerdfighteria extends far beyond Vlogbrother videos, but here are three such videos to give you some idea of their scope: Egypt… Explained, 31 Jokes for Nerds and Winkels to the Left, Winkels to the right: Thoughts from Places, Antwerp.

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Learn new stuff and be more awesome

Coursera – is like university but convenient and free! You can take courses in an increasing diversity of courses such as programming, public speaking or dinosaurs (rawr!).

Busuu – a website which helps you learn the basics of a wide range of languages. Free to start with but you can pay a monthly amount for the full service.

Codecademy – I cannot recommend this free website enough to anyone with zero coding experience and even the slightest desire to learn – suckers for achievements especially welcome!

Free Rice – test and improve your knowledge of word definitions, geography, chemistry and art among other things – each right answer causes the World Food Programme to donate 10 grains of rice to developing countries.

iSpot – found a weird bug or plant you want identifying?  Upload a pic of it to iSpot and you’ll get it identified by those in the know, usually within the hour!

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Webcomics

Justice League 8 – a glorious fan-made webcomic encapsulating wonderfully what Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others would have been like as eight year olds.

Calm Blue Oceans – very pleasant webcomic about human nature and other things.

Abstruse Goose mostly physics and computer science based awesomeness.

Hark, A Vagrant – not really sure how to describe this, just have a look and see for yourself!

Hyperbole and a Half – you may have seen her depression posts, in which she manages to completely encapsulate the experience of this mental illness solely through the medium of gawky drawings and the odd interspersed sentence. Other posts are also genius.

Party Cat – short, sweet and about a kitty who must party (to the detriment of those around him).

Scandinavia and the World – personifying each country as a little person and seeing what kind of current-affairs and history based antics they get up to (with explanations if you’re like me and not as current about current affairs as perhaps I should be).

XKCD – sigh, go on then. If you haven’t heard of this by now, it’s probably not for you. It is very good though.

Letters to an Absent Father – for if you want to get really upset about Ash Ketchum.

Garfield without Garfield – reveals the existential angst of Jon Arbuckle.

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Blogs / the written word

Nautilus – a simply gorgeous website containing fascinating longread science pieces.

Narratively – another longread site where you can explore the lives and stories of people very different to yourself.

Green Tea and Velociraptors – a blog about actual dinosaurs, and the stuff we are discovering about them today.

Not Exactly Rocket Science – the blog of top science communicator Ed Yong, a prolific writer, amazing explainer and somehow finds the time to write awesome articles AND provide a link list as long as this one every single week on cool stuff from the world of science AND be on Twitter all the time. I guess the last two help each other, but still.

Leaving Fundamentalism – Jonny Scaramanga describes his experience of growing up as a creationist kid at a creationist school in the UK, how he came to realise his indoctrination and his current work to “out” some of the more ridiculous things still being taught as fact in many schools today.

Tenure, She Wrote – examining some of the struggles of being a woman scientist.

Monevator – “motivation for armchair investors”. I’d recommend this for anything who cares, or wants to care, about the state of their finances.

Techdirt – news and comments on topics relating to technology, security and privacy.

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Videos / YouTube Channels

Many of these also fall under the category of “learn new stuff and be more awesome” 🙂

Ze Frank – every one of his videos brightens my day.

Crash Course – very easy-to-watch introductions to World history, US history, chemistry and biology.

Theramin Trees – beautifully animated discussion of critical thinking, scepticism, and atheism.

Vi Hart – AKA Doodling in Maths Class has a way of very stealthily teaching you maths when all you think you’re just watching her doodle.

ComicBookGirl19 – reviews and recommends comics, graphic novels, movies and TV shows.

Earth Unplugged – the BBC’s nature YouTube channel, containing many mini-series such as Zoo La La (common questions about the lives of animals) and Slo-Mo (what the natural world looks like in slow motion).

PBS Idea Channel – an alternative and deeper look at some aspects of popular and nerd culture.

Sisyphus Redeemed – one of very few philosophers of YouTube (that I’ve heard of anyway) and well worth a look.

VSauce, VSauce2, VSauce3 – will repeatedly remind you just how amazing our world, people and their creations are.

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Health and Fitness

Nerdfitness – do I really have to say more?

Authority Nutrition – don’t be fooled by the appearance, this guy backs up pretty much every sentence with serious science.

Greatist – Fitness, health and happiness ideas.

Remember to let me know if you want to add something awesome to this list!

Last update: March 2014

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