We all know how easy it is to “go down the rabbit hole” when it comes to the Internet. Scrolling through eye-catching images on Instagram, catching up on the trials and tribulations of family and friends on Facebook, and playing a few games of Words With Friends are pretty standard daily activities for a lot of people, but they have an annoying way of leaving us feeling dissatisfied, like precious time has been wasted … so here are three websites you can lose yourself in and come out the other side feeling more knowledgeable, empathetic and inspired.
If you’ve ever had a latent desire to take part in orienteering, then this is the website for you! During the harsh Swedish winter of 2013, young Anton Wallén created Geoguessr – a website-based geographic discovery game. Within a matter of weeks it had gained mainstream media attention and a fast growing fan base.
The game uses Google Street View and drops players on a street anywhere in the world, where they’re required to guess their location using only the clues around them. There are no rules that we know of, so you can make up your own. Some people are purists and like to play by simply turning 360 degrees in the spot you are dropped. Others allow zooming in on road signs or shop signs to gather intel. It’s totally up to you.
Each game consists of being placed in five spots on the Google Street View world map, and points are given or deducted based on how close your guess is to the actual location. You can play in single player mode or challenge others – simply log in (it’s free!) and invite a friend to see who takes the title of the biggest geography nerd.
In these digital days where we’re all glued to screens, watching live storytelling may seem like it’s a dying art. That’s where The Moth steps in. Its mission is to promote the craft of storytelling, and to simultaneously honour and celebrate the diversity and commonality of the human experience through unique, intimate and often enlightening 5-minute true tales that are told live on stage and without notes.
Since its launch in 1997 (with humble beginnings in a New York lounge room), The Moth has expanded to present over 30,000 stories to standing-room only crowds in 28 cities across the globe, and currently produces over 500 shows per year, including monthly ones in Melbourne and Sydney.
Each show starts with a theme, which the chosen storytellers explore, often in surprising ways. For the most part, the storytellers are members of the public (with the occasional celebrity thrown in the mix) who turn up at the venue with a story prepared and put their name in a hat at the start of the evening in the hope of being chosen to perform it that night. Since each story is genuine, the shows can traverse the vast territory between comedy and tragedy, and can be performed as straight reporting or raucous visual theatre. No matter what you encounter, it’s a nice injection of humanity in a world that can sometimes feel disconnected.
How Stuff Works
No matter how educated or well read you are, How Stuff Works is a website that’s guaranteed to make it abundantly (and rather scarily) clear just how much you DON’T know!
If you’re a general knowledge seeker, you need to put together a trivia night, or you just want some weird and wonderful facts to espouse at awkward networking functions, then you’ve found your spiritual home on the web.
Getting its start at the kitchen table of an American college professor back in 1998, it quickly grew into an award-winning, unbiased and reliable source of easy-to-understand explanations of how the world works.
You can jump online and read whatever random articles are thrown before you that day (like “7 Beautiful Facts About Aphrodite”, “How Is Helium Made?” or even “Should I Really Punch Animals In The Nose When Attacked?”) or you can browse by category, with 11 subjects to choose from, including Adventure, Animals, Culture, Entertainment, Health, and Tech.
There are also videos to watch, quizzes to take, and podcasts to listen to, meaning you can quite easily lose half a day to soaking up random facts without even realising that any time has passed – but don’t feel guilty, you’ll just be one of the website’s 30 million monthly visitors in the same information-saturated boat!