I frequently encounter people eager to learn or interested in understanding current events but that do not know where to start. Many lack the experience to know what they should study. Others have become so disillusioned by the hyper-partisan twenty-four-hour news cycle that they just ignore current events altogether. While I have addressed those challenges in Personal Development and the two-part series Keeping Up with Current Events and My Evening Reads, respectively, those aggressively curated lists leave out many useful sources that did not make the cut. I just don’t have time to keep up with everything. This article highlights those sources as well as several other valuable resources. While I may not visit these websites often, these are my first stops when I must seek out trustworthy information on a range of topics. This article also links to several useful tools both as a way for me to keep track of them and as a way to highlight them to others.
On the one hand, a finite list of websites may seem unhelpful given the infinite nature of the internet. No manual list could keep up with the modern web. On the other hand, though, the paradox of choice continues to confound those interested in learning but overwhelmed by the options available. This article offers suggestions for reputable sources of quality information in several categories, but it is neither comprehensive nor complete. Like Personal Development, Keeping Up with Current Events, and My Evening Reads, this is a living document that I will update often as new information comes to light. Use it as the jumping-off point it is, not as the single source of truth it is not.
I struggled long and hard to find quality, non-partisan writing on politics and current events. Many institutions have succumbed to hyper-partisan alarmism.1 When I need more or different information than my primary news sources can provide, I first look to websites in this category. This category is further sub-divided by types of news outlets below.
General News #
These websites generally produce non-partisan news, although some lean slightly. I completely ignore sources wholly on one side or the other, such as CNN and Fox, and suggest you do the same.
AllSides took an interesting approach to bias in the news: it does not write or aggregate unbiased reporting like others in this category, but rather presents each perspective alongside the others. Here, readers can see perspectives from left-leaning, centrist, and right-leaning outlets all in one place. I sometimes use AllSides as a shortcut to understanding all sides of an issue.
Tech News #
I look to these websites for quality, in-depth technical reporting. I do not make the time to follow each of them individually, but when I catch wind of something interesting through one of my primary sources, I look first to these websites for more information.
Other News #
- http://www.asymco.com/ - I followed Horace Dediu and listened to his podcasts for several years. Although our interests have diverged, he continues to write interesting articles on business and market analysis.
- https://fivethirtyeight.com/ - FiveThirtEight publishes interesting data-based analyses of current events topics. However, do not let it’s purported empiricism lull you into complacency: as is evidenced by its articles and further supported by measures of media bias, FiveThirtyEight leans left to a similar degree as outlets like CNN. I find these articles interesting, but as with any biased outlet, take their conclusions with a grain of salt.
Politics, Current Events, National Security #
- https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ - Foreign Affairs is a high-volume national security-focused news outlet. Although its authors do great work, I have neither the time nor interest to keep up with everything it publishes.
- https://www.cfr.org/ - The Council on Foreign Relations, which publishes Foreign Affairs, also hosts interesting articles on the same topics.
- https://libertiesjournal.com/ - Liberties Journal publishes a series of long form articles once per quarter on topics such as history, current trends, culture, and politics.
Open-Source Intelligence #
Open-Source intelligence, or OSINT, is a fascinating field that has come into its own over the last few years. A distinct intelligence gathering discipline like Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) or Human Intelligence (HUMINT), OSINT concerns itself with “information and sources that are generally available” such as public records, social media relationships, and news reports. Many, however, mistakenly consider it an umbrella term for any collection executed by a private sector entity. As organizations like Bellingcat continue to demonstrate with masterful image intelligence (IMINT) reporting that has begun to bleed over into the SIGINT domain, though, the private sector has developed collection systems on par with many government agencies. As those systems continue to mature, it will become increasingly obvious that sophisticated collection capabilities no longer remain the sole purview of nation-states. OSINT is a distinct intelligence gathering discipline, and private sector entities are rapidly developing the ability to compete with governments in the production of HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT, too.
The OSINT field is vast and it continues to change rapidly; since it falls outside the scope of my day job, I cannot devote as much time to keeping up with it as I would like. These websites help me stay abreast of it when I have time to dip back into this space.
DorkSearch is a neat tool for a type of open-source research known as “dorking”, where analysts craft specific queries to find unconventional data via search engines like Google.
Discord Servers #
A mix of the tech news and open-source intelligence categories and the information security field, I periodically check in on these Discord servers to find new and interesting techniques, perspectives, and projects. Twitter is better for lurking, but it seems that interacting with knowledgeable individuals is easier on Discord.
Web Development #
In what sometimes feels like another life I spent a great deal of time designing and building websites. These were some of my favorite resources for helpful guides, ideas, and design inspiration. For ease of organization, I also include a few useful tools in this section as well.
- http://border-radius.com/ - This simple tool makes generating the CSS code for curved borders a breeze.
- https://www.toptal.com/designers/subtlepatterns/ - Subtle Patterns provides simple, tiling backgrounds for websites for free.
- https://paletton.com/ - Paletton makes designing attractive color schemes easy.
Nerd Wallet and Bankrate contain a wealth of helpful information about everything from the best credit cards to mortgage brokers. The Forbes Advisor site provides similar information. Whenever I have to deal with anything related to finances, I look to these websites first. Seeking Alpha publishes a lot of good information about investing and the markets. When I have a question about a stock or market activity, I go there.
Personal & Professional Development #
This section contains resources for personal and professional development. I also encourage you to check out my article Personal Development for more recommendations.
- https://www.thebalancecareers.com/ - From resume tips to career advice, The Balance Careers has a lot of great information, especially for those in the early years of their professional careers.
- https://fs.blog/ - Farnam Street is less about career advice and more about general personal and professional development.
Long Reads #
As much as I enjoy short, interesting articles from many of the sources on this list, I enjoy long-form writing even more. On the rare occasion I find myself with extra time, I like to spend it immersing myself in interesting stories from places like these.
I do a lot of research before I buy, and that research starts with a handful of trusted websites. Rather than reproduce that list here, I will take this opportunity to refer you to The Best of the Best where I maintain a current list of my favorite review sites. I also like to consult these websites.
- https://www.productchart.com/ - This website provides helpful comparison charts for tech products, as its name suggests, but also a nice workflow for finding products to compare. Rather than going to a specific vendor’s website and trying to find something that meets your needs there, you can use Product Chart to search for products that meet your specifications across all manufacturers.
Buying a car is part art and part science. Use these resources to guide the buying process by helping you to understand which cars hold their value and a fair price range for those vehicles.
I have little to no style and make no claim to keep up with fashion, but I do keep these websites in my back pocket when I need to put together a professional outfit or update my wardrobe.
This section lists resources that don’t fit into any of the other categories.
- https://lifehacker.com/ - Lifehacker is a great source for how-tos, tips, and reviews. Although a high-volume publication, it publishes generally good general-purpose content.
Whereas most of this article links to websites and other resources that provide information, this section lists a handful of useful tools.
- https://www.overleaf.com/ - I prefer to write simple documents using Markdown, and anything more complex than a simple blog post in TeX. Overleaf is the online TeX editor. I use it for everything from my personal resume to sprawling technical white papers. If you don’t want to go through the (few) steps to set up a TeX writing environment on your computer, Overleaf is a phenomenal alternative.
↩ Ad Fontes Media maintains an Interactive Media Bias Chart