1) Check my Pinterest and immediately 'pin' anything that is interesting like new-to-me, clever products and cool photos. No wonder Pinterest is the fastest growing website in history --it's the best place to stalk digital & design influencers! It's totally "ALT" of Control!!
2) Quickly scan through the headlines of Mashable and TechCrunch to read about today's tech landscape (like this illustration by GE at the TechCrunch 2011 Disrupt Conference). Mentally note how the best tech apps & startups that are featured also have aesthetically pleasing interfaces and strong brand values. (Are we even surprised?)
3) If I have 20 minutes, read online lifestyle & design magazines, Matchbook, Lonny, and Rue. The online shelter magazine industry is only a few years old, but it is thriving!
4) Lastly, mobile content really goes a long way. Checking the NYTimes and Twitter on my iphone while waiting for friends at coffee shops or going through their archives on the subway commute from work is just too easy!
I work in brand management, so a part of my job is to hone my aesthetic and taste level and think outside the box on ways to make my product better. But as a consumer, doing my research helps me to become the smartest shopper I can be. Empowering, no?