Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Monday, September 13, 2010

7 free information resources for the digital age


Constant learning and growth

I'm a big believer in constant learning and constant improvement. I easily read 3-5 books a month, and this is on top of reading and research I do on the internet each day. Obviously, reading this many books can become an expensive habit! Let's say you're a voracious reader and read at least four books a month and the average cost of each book was around $12.95. You could easily be spending over $50.00 a month on books. Over a year's time, that would be well over $600.00!

Old School versus New School

Before the days of ebook readers, the old school approach to saving money on information resources would be to visit your local library, borrow from friends, and purchase less expensive resources at discount stores.

With the explosion of the Information Age over the last few years, we now live in a new world. With our ever-connected world via the internet, there are now a number of tremendous online resources available to all of us for FREE! That being said, it's not very probable that you will be able to get free books that are currently listed on the New York Times bestseller list, but if you do just a little bit of searching on the web, you can find some great material for little to no cost.

To date, I have found that the best way to consume all of these various information resources to be through Apple's new iPad, and I recently wrote a post on the 9 things I love about my Apple iPad. The overwhelming majority of the things that I love about the iPad deal with information consumption, and it's a great tool in order to consume a lot of free and low cost information resources.

7 free information resources

I will admit upfront that the following is not an exhaustive list, but here's a list of resources I have discovered over the last 6 weeks of using my iPad:
  1. Free ebooks. Believe it or not, there are a number of decent free books available on the Kindle app from Amazon as well as Apple's own iBook store app. Just a few days ago, I downloaded a bunch of free books that I found interesting. Also take a look at what Kindle has to say about additional free resources outside of the Kindle store on it's Free Book Collections page as well as information on free books in the iBookstore.
  2. Free pdf articles. Pdf articles are typically smaller than ebooks and can be downloaded from a variety of sources. Many blog authors give away free pdf sources of information for subscribing to their email lists. With iTunes and the iBook app, it's now easier than ever to store these pdf files on your iBookshelf for later reading.
  3. Blogs. The Blogshelf app is my favorite way to read all of the blogs I like to keep up with. Blogs are a great free resource of opinion and information.
  4. YouTube subscriptions. There are a number of writers and public speakers out there who post an incredible amount of free "self-improvement"-type information videos. You just need to do a little bit of hunting and searching around on YouTube and you can subscribe to these various video feeds. I typically consume this type of free information while I'm getting ready for work in the morning or at other times in which I can multi-task around the house.
  5. Podcasts. Podcasts have been around for a number of years now. iPods and iPads now make it easier than ever to subscribe to various feeds through iTunes. Again, there are some incredible free resources available for constant learning and growth.
  6. Free audiobooks. Just do a quick Google search on free audiobooks and you will find a number of different website offerings. Again, the iPad/iPod/iTunes features make downloads quick and easy.
  7. Free iPad information apps. There are a number of free independent apps available for iPad, iPod, and iPhone users that range from the top stories of the New York Times to your local big-city newspaper to Time Magazine. The sky's the limit.
The challenge

The challenge with uncovering all of these free resources is that it's much like turning on a fire hose. There is so much in the way of free information that you can drown in the enormity of it all. The good news is that once you start consuming an article of downloaded information, if you don't like it, you can quickly delete it and move on to something of better interest. Happy hunting!

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