Finding the Good Stuff on the World Wide Web

So, how to find the good stuff on the World Wide Web? For openers, may I suggest the Internet Public Library. (So I am biased towards public libraries. So sue me!) Here is its WWW address: http://www.ipl.org. The Internet Public Library is a project of students at the University of Michigan library school. Like the entire Web, it is relatively new and still growing fast. The IPL has several sections. One of these is the Ready Reference collection. Here you will find the Free Internet Encyclopedia, a collaborative effort of Clifton B. Davis and myself. (Clif's a computer science doctoral student at the University of Houston as well as my fiance.)

To get to the encyclopedia directly, use this address: http://www.clever.net/cam/encyclopedia.html. What we hoped to accomplish with the encyclopedia was to give people a general idea where to find what they were looking for. (We don't provide any information ourselves, per se. We just have links to other Web pages.) Also, if we don't have anything on the subject in question, we have provided links to Web search engines. (A search engine is a powerful tool for finding documents on the Web containing key words or phrases provided by the user.) We find many addresses or URLs (Universal Resource Locators) by following links on Web pages we come upon. I recommend this technique.

Now that I have piqued your interest, how does one go about "getting online"?

One way is to enroll in a local university or college and take at least one class. Students get WWW accounts paid for by their student fees. Or you could sign up with an online information service provider such as America Online, CompuServe, or Prodigy, etc. Such services charge by the hour for access but also offer forums (like electronic bulletin board systems but only open to their own members), news, stock prices, realtime chat with other members and celebrity guests as well as Web access.

Or you could go it alone and sign up directly with an Internet access provider for unlimited monthly access for a flat fee. (If you are not sure which is best for you, the online information services do provide free trial periods to see if you like their service. Also see Questions to Ask Before Changing Your Internet Service Provider (ISP).)

Another option now is to drop by your local public library. More and more public libraries are offering free access public to the Internet. There may be a "filter" (which prevents certain Web pages from being displayed, such as porno pages) and there may be a time limit (such as fifteen or thirty minutes if others are waiting to use the PC) but the price is right!

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Last Modified: 2/20/99