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  • Use the Internet to Get Smarter
    Find a Web site for every interest
    By Chan Park

    Ten years ago, if someone had told you that we'd all be using the Internet on a daily basis to find information, entertainment, and to communicate instantaneously with people all around the world... well, it would've been hard to believe. Oh, how far we've come in such a short amount of time.

    With the Web at our fingertips—and some clever search tools—each of us are now practically geniuses. Who needs a photographic memory when you can look things up in an instant? We have access to a multitude of resources online—the greatest library imaginable—about every topic under the sun. Want to know how to build a robot? Learn a new language? Trace your family tree? There are scores of sites for every interest, and many of the best resources are free!

    Here are some amazing sites where you can cram your head with knowledge and insights to your heart's content.

    Higher learning, hold the tuition
    If you want world-class learning without the world-class price, go to the source. Some of the most prestigious universities are shedding their ivory-tower ways and putting more resources on the Web for everyone's benefit.

    Leading the way is the OpenCourseWare program from MIT, which is helping people around the world to acquire new knowledge. Pioneers in so many technology areas, MIT's early efforts have pushed other institutions to do the same. But the original is still the best. As an example, check out this amazing video lecture on physics from one of their most popular professors. It's literally hair raising.

    Apple Computer has also made it easier for universities to join this trend without having to commit a lot of technical resources. With their new iTunes U program, schools have a simple way to podcast lectures, not only to their students but in many cases also to the general public. You can listen in on a wide array of classes on a variety of subjects at numerous universities. Finally, an easy way to take that art history class you always wanted!

    No late fees at this library
    if you want to skip the pontificating and sink your teeth into source material, that's also at your fingertips. You can find electronic versions of works whose copyright has expired at leading online libraries like Project Gutenberg, as well as many other sites. Care for the complete works of Shakespeare? Or how about the longest poem ever written, the Mahabharata. Perhaps the world's oldest written story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is your cup of tea.

    Modern e-books are more of a challenge to find online since they're subject to copyright laws. For these, there are commercial sites available where you can get the latest books—from textbooks to thrillers to new classics in the making. You can also subscribe to audio books online and listen to them right from your browser or download them to a portable device.

    It's the WORLD Wide Web
    English is currently the most common language on the Internet—but it's certainly not the only one. And that's great news for people who'd like to learn a new language. The Internet presents vast new opportunities to practice a new tongue, from free online language courses to opportunities to communicate with someone in a foreign country.

    And there are also a ton of sites in foreign languages that you can visit. Need a little help understanding them? Online translation tools can help you get the gist of almost anything. Tout de suite!

    Everyone's a genius
    There's no reason not to know practically anything anymore. With access to a treasure trove of online resources, you can learn whatever you like—anytime. Just remember to reboot once in a while and get some sunshine