By Ron VandenBoom
While attending a recent meeting, I was approached by a woman who recognized me as the person who wrote the Internet column for The Havre Daily News.
In the course of the conversation, the woman told me she was always being asked to find information for her daughter on the Internet.
She went on to comment on how difficult it was to locate the material she was looking for.
We hear so much now-a-days about how much information exists on the Internet that it's easy to get the impression that anything we need is just one easy click away. And that's true "NOT!!!!"
Every major search engine proclaims itself to be the best, simplest, and easiest to use, but the reality is much different than the hype.
Let's say you wanted to find a general overview of the life of Joan of Arc in a typical search engine. Using parentheses, you type in Joan of Arc and hit enter. You shortly receive back 125,000 hits.
Checking the first 10 or 20 on your monitor you see the Joan OF Arc Restaurant and Lounge, The Joan Of Arc Memorial Fire Starters Organization, Joan's Arch Supports, and Joan's Burn Your Own Stake House of Dodge City, Kansas. Then, hidden almost imperceptibly between Joan Of Arc Tours and The French Academy of Slightly Chard Saints, is the simple words Joan Of Arc.
Thinking this might be just the ticket, you click and up pops a list of 40 books a retailer in Omaha has for sale on the life and times of Joan of Arc. The next likely site offers a list of papers Ms Smith's sixth-grade class in Cincinnati Ohio wrote on Joan of Arch.
By now, with your hair graying and your temper shortening, you seek out the family encyclopedia.
Well I may be exaggerating a little, but not much. Finding information over the Internet is not as easy as it may at first appear.
One of the best solutions I've found to the problem are reference sites.
A reference site can best be described as an Internet library of web sites. Reference sites can take many forms, but most commonly they will break subjects into broad categories of interest and suggest web sites that will lead the surfer to more specific topics.
One of the best I've found is www.lkwdpl.org/readref.htm
Ready Reference uses the Dewey Decimal System to differentiate categories or topics. They range from General subjects to Religion, Social Sciences, The Arts, and Geography and History. Points in between are also covered.
Click on the subject you are interested in and get a list of individual websites that pertain, in general terms, to the subjects you want to find. Then all you need to do is make a selection and see where it leads.
Now I don't want to leave the impression that this site or any other is a perfect solution to your problem. The site may or may not have what you're looking for. But at least you're in the ballpark.
What it very possibly can do is provide you with direct links to sites with related subject matter.
This site is a part of the Lakewood, Ohio, Public Library and it is provided free as a service to surfers.
If you scroll down through the general category you will reach "Other Collections of Reference Links." This alone is a gold mine of resource material you may want to book mark.