Daily Dispatch

The Friday Five

Time to Waste

By | Sep.02.11 | Daily Dispatch, Innovation, Playtime, The Friday Five

Oh, come on. It’s almost Labor Day weekend and nothing’s going anywhere today. So you can either put your feet up on your desk and blatantly loaf … or you can do what we’re doing. Put your head down, huddle up to the computer and pretend to be earnestly involved in paying work while actually surfing the amazing things that people with way too much free time have popped up on the Internet.

To that end, this week’s Friday Five brings you five links guaranteed to burn time— fascinating places you’ll end up bookmarking and sharing on Facebook, just in case loafing ever becomes appropriate again. Seems a good way to observe Labor Day, no?

1. Brain Pickings is a blog devoted to creativity—more specifically, the concept that creativity occurs when diverse ideas are allowed to cross-pollinate. It is “curated” by Maria Popova, a writer for Wired UK, The Atlantic and Design Observer, who describes Brain Pickings as full of  “pieces that enrich your mental pool of resources and empower you to combine them into original concepts that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful—a modest, curiosity-driven exercise in vision- and mind-expansion.” Well okay then. Just on the first page, you’ll learn about the mysteries of photojournalism, music notation based on tennis, and seven image search tools that will change your life. Who could resist?

2. Curiosity Counts is advertising agency TBWA’s diverse collection of the strange and wonderful, also curated by Popova. (Has this woman found a way to make surfing the net actually pay?) While like Brain Pickings, all items focus on creativity, the similarity stops there. The site is devoted to “brain booty and disruptive interestingness across creative culture and media arts,” which, loosely translated, means here you will find a arresting and fascinating videos, infographics, software and more. Up top today is a gorgeous “evolution of the web” graphic created for Google Chrome by the Hyperakt folks. And a yummy-looking graphic illustrating the sales of Girl Scout cookies. Thin Mints account for 25 percent. Well, duh!

3. Good is difficult to explain. It’s like an eZine on steroids. Or National Geographic for the cultural archeologist. Self-described as “THE magazine,” Good overflows with an abundance of interesting stuff just begging you to dig deeper. With tabs like “action,” “business,” “cities,” “politics,” “transportation” and far more, the constantly updated, totally linked assemblage is truly more than a reader can absorb. But it’s lots of fun and edifying to boot. Is this what Life magazine looks like in the 21st century?

4. Thought You Should See This consists of “stories, moments, people and ideas of interest from within the worlds of innovation and design.” It’s written by Helen Walters of Doblin, the innovation unit at Monitor Group, who makes you feel she’s one of your intellectually curious friends— always sending you something fascinating and new to read that relates directly to something you love. Some of the content is quite commercial, some academic—well, it’s all over the place. This week’s posts included a video about a collaboration between Artcrank and Trek bicycles, an article about “Overcoming Insidious Obstacles to Innovation,” a celebration of the 29th anniversary of email, and a piece about “monitoring the behavior at the heart of everything” called “Beware the Inner Reptile.” Really.

5. Finally, Visual.ly. We’ve saved this for last on purpose. If you’ve made it through exploration of all the possibilities above, you are no doubt in need of something that demands less of you. Visual.ly is the place to go to see some of the best infographics on the web all in one place. And, yes, they are pretty to look at, but the real power comes from your immediate understanding of complex information. How much work we do to pay our taxes. How much you can trust a bearded man (categorized by style of beard). A Venn diagram of coffee drinks. How students pay for college. And our favorite: Who takes the cake? Popular Labor Day wedding destinations. It’s all about the beach.

And, oh my gosh, look at that! It’s five o’clock and time for us to head to the beach ourselves. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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