©01 The Media Desk
The Best List and Best Links
See the Best of the Web Update- March 2002
[NOTE: All links will open in a new browser window. These sites worked as of the date of review. This is not to be taken as an endorsement of these sites by the Desk. No compensation for either reviewing or listing the sites mentioned. For other sites, visit the Desk's links page.]
Well, it went this way. The Desk has been discussing with a lady, Miss Mary, about where what is on the WEB. No, she doesn't have AOL, which isn't the WEB, its AOL, but she does have MSN, which isn't the WEB either, but it is closer to it than AOL. And she was surprised with what all is actually on the WEB. As the Desk explained it to her, "Everything from the Adolph Hitler home page to the perfect chocolate brownie recipe is out there."
First things first, your address bar, that white line up by the 'Back' and 'Stop' buttons (whichever browser you are using) is the page's location on the WEB. Literally its address. This will begin with that cryptic little abbreviation, http:// or occasionally something equally baffling. You do not need to know that that stands for 'Hyper Text Transfer Protocol... no, you don't. The Desk and Bill Gates do, and maybe the CNN webmaster does, AlGore doesn't have a clue, but that doesn't matter. All you need to know is that if it says anywhere before the .com or .net in the address something like AOL or MSN or something related to them, you are on their site, not on the Internet itself.
AOL and the others are 'portals' and to a large extent 'content providers'.
Think of it like this. We go out someplace and, say, look at some new shoes, then browse through automotive, get a snack, look through some videos and CDs, visit the ATM machine, and chat with a guy you went to school with... And we've been in Wal-Mart the whole time. MSN is like that, so are AOL and Yahoo and the other portals. You can shop, read the news, play a game or two, chat, watch some sports highlights, and check on your stocks, and you have never left their site. Which is exactly what they want. While you are checking your 401k fund, they are bombarding you with ads, tracking where you go and how long you stay there, and selling that information to other advertisers. And you are paying for the privilege.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this, if it is what you want.
If it is what you want, the safety of that big umbrella, that's fine.
The WEB can be a scary place, there is a lot of bad stuff out there, and it doesn't matter how you define the word 'bad stuff'. Not just what most people usually think of; porn and hate. Oh, yeah, there is plenty of that on the web, just typing the word 'porn' into a search engine returns over three million responses. And not all of them are 'girlie' sites. Everything from the Meese Report to blocking software was listed. 'Cars' came back with seven million eight hundred thousand plus! Everything from new car dealers to junk cars for parts. But unless you knew what you were looking for, that's a lot of pages to look through trying to find a shop manual for a Trabant.
Which is why 'Directories' like Yahoo, AnyWho, and the Open Directory Project exist. They are the Yellow Pages of the Web. All you need to do is figure out what general category your thing belongs in (let's find that shop manual for a Trabant) and see where it goes. A search through the Yahoo directories lands us in classifieds where there is a 1962 Trabant for sale in Canada, a manual is available in German, and an ad for a dealer that specializes in rare automotive books promises that if they don't have it, they can get it.
So, now that you are completely bewildered, sit back and let the Desk cruise the Web for you and put together a little directory of odds and ends that should get you used to the World Wide Web.
Oh, by the way, not all addresses on the Web begin with WWW. That's one of the great misconceptions of the Web. Also, not everything is .com or .net either, so watch those endings. www.bible.com is a completely different site than www.bible.ca and www.bible.net takes you to Gospel.com on a redirect, but don't worry about that now. If you want an experience, click in the address bar and type in pochtamt.ru (you don't need the http:// the browser will add that for you). Got it? Good. Welcome to Russia. Just in front of the word 'pochtamt' in your address bar, type in drleftover. (make sure you use the period between the words) Welcome to the Desk's Russian Web Site. Yes it is on a server in the former Soviet Union. It truly is the World Wide Web! [see link page for links]
So, where to begin... to the Desk's Best of the WEB list plus commentary.
"Just the links, ma'am."
Back to the Desk's Tech page