The communication of knowledge and ideas is intrinsic to the human condition. Our earliest ancestors had a rich oral tradition, through which they passed on what they knew about the world, often across great distances. Our systems of communication have evolved and matured, from those oral traditions to the earliest cuneiform writings and all the way up through books and newspapers, to radio and television. With the advent of the modern age and Al Gore’s gift of the Internet, we’re now able to share our knowledge, ideas, and lots and lots of cute pictures of cats, around the world in less time than it has taken me to write this sentence.
Today, the avenues available to our quest to gain and share knowledge are boundless, but I’d like to share with you five of my own personal favorites.
#5 — Reddit
Some people will tell you that Reddit is nothing but Internet trolls, bad memes and cat pictures… and there is a lot of that, but, Reddit can also be an amazing font of knowledge, works to stimulate dialogue and debate, and if often an outlet for some very real human compassion and generosity. From the Reddit community I have learned about everything from molecular biology to astrophysics, childbirth to bereavement, and pop culture to classic literature. For a quick overview of the best of Reddit, check out /r/bestof.
#4 — Scribd
Scribd is an online repository of the written word. In it’s simplest form, it is a resource for public document sharing, and has become one of the world’s largest digital libraries. Scribd allows for social sharing of both popular and academic materials, along with providing simple tools for users to upload and publish their own original content.
#3 — Scoop.it
If you’re reading this post right now you’re already utilizing one of the most powerful web tools out there for social content curation. Scoop.it allows users to create and populate content feeds on any topic of interest. Feed content is sourced internally through Scoop.it’s matchmaking tools, or externally by individual users from any source on the web. Users are encouraged to engage in dialogue on posted content, which adds value to the feed as a whole.
#2 — Yarny
Yarny describes itself as “novel writing in the cloud,” but for many users it is so much more than that. Through it’s simple design and easy-to-navigate UI, Yarny providers users with the tools they need to build any type of written content, and organize said content for future editing and readability. In actuality, many writers use Yarny for every piece of writing they do, from creating their next novel to drafting an email, or a piece of content for a blog or newsletter, as I am right now. Yarny allows users to organize their work by project, and type, it saves versions and notes, fades to a distraction-free page when it detects typing, and is easily saved locally in a variety of file formats.
#1 — Google Drive
I know, I know… all praise the almighty Google, right? I try not to be a total Google groupie, and for the most part I’ve succeeded, but Google Drive deserves a lot of credit for being one of the best collaborative content generation tools on the web. Often, for me, sharing knowledge online is less about getting that info out to the masses, and more about collaborating with a smaller team to create something unified. Google Drive has everything you need to do that. Drive allows users to upload and share files through the cloud, within groups they define themselves. It can be used to send a policy update to an entire corporate mailing list, allowing everyone to provide feedback, and feedback on the feedback. It can be used by a much smaller team to create and edit specific content, and it’s all backed up and protected by Google in the cloud.
So, here’s hoping I gave you some ideas for new tools to try, or even just inspired you to get out there today and learn something new, or share something of yourself with the world. I’d love to hear what other communication and sharing tools everyone is using, so please feel free to leave me a comment and share your knowledge!
Lindsay Brunner is an accomplished creative writer and Creativity Curator for Delivering Happiness. She is an avid believer in the Gene Roddenberry vision for the future of humanity, which is really just Star Trek geek-speak for idealist, optimist, and generally happy person. Follow her @LindsayB610 or check out her (woefully neglected) personal blog.