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Sharing is caring: Websites that inspire us to contribute

There are days when I feel like the Internet is fucking me sideways. Working in IT gives me a special opportunity to be bombarded with the most retarded information available (anything from funny kittens to conspiracy fear-mongering). Add to this all the commercial stuff I have to actively ignore during my surfing and it’s no wonder that my shock tolerance has grown unusually high. Ultimately, most days I feel like this guy.

But then there are days that don’t just simply make me go ”heh” in-between my excessive scrolling, but stops me in my tracks and evokes hope for humanity. Those are days when I’ve stumbled upon something so precious that it reminds me with a jolt why the Internet is the greatest invention in all of history and why we should protect its freedom passionately.

Below I’ve gathered some of the most amazing sites that I truly feel are creating immense value for people around the world. They are all connected via similar ideas, values and inspiration that they give out for free. They build communities and a sense of togetherness globally and do it in the spirit of open sharing, hope and education. If any of these projects touched you like they have touched me, I urge you to reach out to them and tell them about it, think of a way to help them in your own way or even donate some money. Let’s share the lööv ♥

Fear.less

Fear paralyzes us. For some, it is a always present in their lives. The media make sure that you never forget all the freak accidents that happen and it can easily make fear your constant companion without any valid reason. Fear is universal, we all share it. Even the team behind the Fear.less Magazine shares it with us. But they have also decided that we can all learn to live free from fear. So they started to collect stories about people who didn’t and still don’t run away from fear. ”Every story you read is an example of conquering fear, whether an immediate physical danger, the looming threat of failure, the pressure to compete in a changing world, the incessant quest for identity, or the overwhelming uncertainty of death.” They share this knowledge with you for free, because they realize the value of shared courage.


Khan Academy

What happens when hedge fund manager Sal makes a few algebra videos for his cousins and puts them on YouTube? It becomes a world-class online education platform for children, teens and adults world wide over the course of the next two years. That’s what happens. And it is all for free. Want to learn advanced math? Chemistry? Biology? How about refreshing those memories about arithmetic or calculus from your high school years? Or if you are still in high school and are lagging behind the others in some finance course, all you have to do is open the videos Sal has made and start learning in your own time. This whole concept makes me tear up from joy and excitement, what an opportunity it is for so many people around the world!

Juicy bits: See a Sal make amazing talk about Khan Academy @ TED and check out the FAQ about the project.


Ted

I can not even count how many amazing ideas I’ve found through TED. I absolutely love this site. It is certainly not a ”new kid on the block”, but rather one of those ”proven-amazing-through-time” sites. The people at TED are passionate about spreading riveting talks by remarkable people, again, for free. Instead of reading through the daily tabloid, why not make it a habit to watch one TED talk per day? They are all under 20 minutes, most of them are subtitled even in rare languages (like Finnish) and you will expand your awareness, cultivate your happiness and imbue youself with new ideas a ga-zillion times more efficiently than with any beauty magazine. And I bet it can even make you feel more beautiful afterwards.

Juicy bits: See how David Blaine tells how he held his breath for 17 minutes or how Jill Bolte, a brain scientist, tells how she got a wonderful opportunity to study strokes while it happened to her. They also have some amazing artist performances like this modern dance couple that performs Symbiosis or Jake Shimabukuro who plays Bohemian Rhapsody with ukulele.


Gapminder

I love statistics. Especially when they are shown in an interesting and interactive way and aim to correct the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands. Gap Minder is a non-profit organization that produces video and Flash presentations and PDF charts that show major global development trends with animated statistics in colorful graphics. Now it doesn’t sound that interesting when you read it in here. But wait until you see the founder Hans Rosling go through his immense database in his TED talks. It is truly mind-boggling material.

Juicy bits: play Gapminder World that shows how long people live and how much money they earn or see all the other amazing videos in Gapminder.


Sky Survey

Nick Risinger, an amateur photographer from Seattle, started his journey around the world with his retired father to capture our entire night sky in full HD. The journey took one year and left him with 37,440 photos that he stitched together one-by-one to create this 5000 megapixel 360° panorama of our Milky Way. After that, he made it interactive. And it is breathtaking.


Debatepedia

I always try to learn to see things from others’ perspectives in debates. With time I’ve come to realize that there are very rarely any absolutes, but all things are shades of gray (which is possibly the reason I rarely debate about anything nowadays). But some debates are bigger than our little lives and affect all human kind. You want to be part of the solution and not the problem, but finding the arguments for both sides can be a grueling task in a world where information is scattered around the web, in newspapers and books. Here is where Debatepedia can help. It is a wikipedia of debates, arguments, and supporting quotations of all global and regional issues that you can imagine having a debate about. It is simple and effective. It gives you a simple ”logic tree” of pros and cons of any given issue so that seeing the big picture becomes easier.

Juicy bits: Read about the debate around child beauty pageants, was the war in Iraq worth it, compulsory voting or even breast-feeding in public (as if we would need a debate about the last one;)


The Johnny Cash Project

When Johnny Cash died, many lives were touched. He was (and still is) touted as the most influential musician of the 20th century. The Johnny Cash Project is a beautiful global collective art project that gives people the opportunity to build a living and individual memorial for this great musical legend. Working with a single image as a template you can create your personal portrait of Johnny which will be merged into the ”Ain’t No Grave” music video.

Strung together and played in sequence over the song, the portraits create a moving, ever evolving homage to Cash. What’s even more cool is that the project is still on going and pretty fresh. I checked the site a month ago and the video was still unfinished, but as new people discover and contribute to the project, this living portrait will continue to transform and grow, so you will virtually never the same video twice.

Juicy bits: See the cool Ted talk by the project founder Aaron Koblin


Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir

When Eric was little he dreamed of being a rock star. Around the age of 18 he was persuaded to participate in their college choir practice and when the choir sang out their first note everything changed for him. That single event took him on a journey that has made him one of the most popular conductors and performed composers of our time.

In 2009 one of his friends emailed him a YouTube fan video that had a young soprano girl singing one of his pieces called ”Sleep”. He was awed by her innocence and pure voice and, inspired by this, decided to gather together 50 people around the world for a virtual choir where each member of the choir would sing their part as soprano, alto, tenor and bass over the internet, which he would then gather into one virtual choir. The project got massive viral attention and spread like wildfire. On the first attempt he got together over 185 singers to sing his piece Lux Aurumque. The singers were so inspired and touched by the collaboration, sense of community and sharing that they immediately signed themselves up for virtual choir 2.0. That gathered together 2052 singers globally to unite for one single purpose: To perform Eric Whitacres ”Sleep” together, online.

Juicy bits: After you’ve taken couple of deep breaths check out their site and his talk about the previous choir at TED


Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a funding platform for ideas, concepts, artists and developers. Projects can be big or small, serious or whimsical, traditional or experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. Anyone can sign up and it is risk free for all parties. If an idea doesn’t collect enough pledges during a specified timeframe, all of the pledged money will be returned. Kickstarter has enabled some of the most interesting projects to manifest:
Diaspora* – An open source based social media platform (like Facebook, but you keep the ownership for anything you share since you do it from your own server). They were funded with $ 200,641.
My Reincarnation – A movie about a father who is an esteemed Tibetan Buddhist master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his western son, Khyentse Yeshe. The film has been 20-year jorney for the film maker Jennifer Fox.  They were funded with 150,456 $.
Tembo Trunks – Earbud speakers that require no power. You can attach them to your iPod earbuds to amplify the sound. They were funded with $88,321.
Lockpicks by Open Locksport – A hand-made lockpick set for competitive lockpicking. Schuyler Towne, the lockpicker who designed these picks, asked for $6000 dollars to start manufacturing his custom set of lockpicks and ended up with $87,497.

Juicy bits: These are just SOME of the amazing projects that Kickstarter has helped, check out their Most Funded list of all time to get more inspiration.


Have I missed something amazing? If I have, please share a link on the comments section and tell me why it’s awesome! :)

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  1. Kika
    Kirjoitettu 10 joulu 2011 klo 19:21 | Ikilinkki

    Have to add this site to this list as well:
    Duolingo
    Learn a new language, for free, and simultaneously do a big favor for the humanity by translating the web. I LOVE the internet!

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