|There Is A Wealth Of Information On The Net|
Surfing the World Wide Web can be a colossal
waste of time! The Web
is a vast digital landscape filled with information and misinformation on every
imaginable topic. As the word "surfing" implies, the typical way a person uses
the Web is to choose some starting point and then bounce from place to place
trying to find something of interest, until they become "beached" at a dead-end
and start all over again. It may be fun and exciting for a while, but very
little progress is made.
Why is navigating the Web so difficult? Imagine walking into the Library of Congress and discovering that the card catalog has been replaced with a giant dictionary. Each entry in the dictionary contains, instead of a definition, the Dewey decimal numbers of every book, magazine, and newspaper that contains that word or phrase. Once you choose a book from the list, you go to the shelves, find the book, and discover that it is not the one you need; worse, the surrounding books have nothing in common. You also begin to notice that the fiction and non-fiction books are mixed and there is no way to determine which is which. You also observe that the quality of the writing varies from the crude and obscene to the professional and informative. At this point, most people give up finding what they came for and simply look for entertaining diversions.
This is the general state of the World Wide Web today.
All is not lost, however. As with any democratic endeavor in its infancy there is bound to be chaos at the beginning. If the endeavor is worthwhile, order will begin to emerge, rules will be applied, and industrious individuals will organize, catalog, and review.
We are just now beginning to see signs of this activity on the Web. Unfortunately progress is slowed by the Web's sheer vastness. In the U.S. alone, there are 62 million users and hundreds of thousands of companies connected to the Web. Thousands of new Web sites are added daily around the world. This is both a blessing and a curse for writers: a blessing due to the huge amount of reference material, news, and general information, a curse due to the frustration of actually finding anything useful!
In this series of articles, I will be presenting some thoughts and advice on how writers, both published and non-published, can get the most out of the Web. I will start with a few basics on Web browsing and searching and present some useful starting points. Next, I will delve deeper into how to efficiently perform research on the Web. I'll also talk about how to use the Web to find agents, publishers, and professional organizations. I'll then discuss some places to go on the Web to find information on specific genres, such as young adult and children's writing, Christian writing, drama and playwriting, mystery, poetry, romance, history, and science fiction. Finally, I'll wrap things up with topics such as publishing online and creating your own Web site, and give a "must see" list of sites for any writer.
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