Thank you, Al Gore. Yes, if it wasn't for good ol' Albert, I might actually have to come up with ideas on my own. Oh, excuse me, I might actually have to go outside to get some inspiration. Wait, I meant, I might have to go to a museum or something.
There is no substitute for seeing stuff with your own eyes. The light is uninterpreted and it's three-dimensional. But, if you design for production or within a certain vision, it may be impossible to compete with what's available on this here internet. For me, looking at the original art and design work of others is helpful in many ways - color, structure, feel. Via this medium, I can look and look and look and I must say I get many, many ideas. I guess I'm not the only one since the design I see out there in the world is way more complex and broad than I suspect it otherwise might be.
In particular, I like to "use" stumbleupon.com. This is a "community" of sorts but essentially, the device is a web browser plug-in. One installs this either in Mac or PC browsers and it's without adware or anything like that. Press the Stumble! button and, voila!, one is presented with a site, based on preferences chosen at the time of installation, that probably wouldn't be found on one's own. My personal choices are design, photography, art, philosophy and the Mac.
I've been using this plug-in for quite a few months. I've yet to see the same site twice. Other users find a site and submit it, so there's a swarm/parallel processing effect in gathering these sites that would otherwise rely on site-owners listing and tricking the engine into thinking their site is important, which is what happens on search engines. So, there is a plethora of extremely amazing stuff that I've come across that I hadn't found in the ten years prior to this device.
For instance, I found urbandirty.com, which is a free image resource of excellent textures from the real world. While I am always on the hunt-down for patterns and textures, this site offers images that I'd never encounter on my own. It's all searchable by browsing thumbnails or through the use of tags and is fast and intuitive. Me likee.