To learn is to fuel wonder. I was late to learn to read, or so I am told. Perhaps I didn't see the use of it. All this changed when my parents introduced me to the public library. As a child, the concept amazed me. Row upon row of books, arranged by category, free for me to explore. The non-fiction section had a strong hold on me, and I grew to love the dewy decimal system [Dewy Decimal Categories]. I have a vivid store of memories with libraries as their setting.
Although I am still drawn to books and libraries, the Internet now provides much of the fuel for my sense of wonder. The following is a description of how I search and discover on the Net.
The easiest way to search answers.com is two query the word directly through the URL. For example, I would enter http://answers.com/who into the location bar of my web browser, to query the definition of the word "who". (Side note: Grammar nerds should read the who/whom usage note provided with the definition.)
Google allows you to search for definitions from around the Web. Enter the following into Google:
The returned definitions may vary greatly, but the results are often enlightening.
I've recently started using the Simple English Wikipedia in conjunction with the standard version. "[The] Simple English [Wikipidea] uses fewer words and easier grammar than the original English Wikipedia." The entries and clear, concise and written in Dunstan Ramsay's "Plain Style". ;)
Broad Topic Net Searches
Google is still king when it comes to general Internet searching. Reference the Google Cheat Sheet for more precise results. I rely on a mix of quotations and + and - symbols to narrow down my searches. Try to imagine the page you wish to find. Then, search for words and quotations present on this imagined page.
If you are looking for a specific category of information, try exploring DMOZ, the open directory project. It's reminiscent of an older yahoo, but like Wikipedia it's maintained by volunteers from around the world.
The Internet is forever in a state of flux. Anyone familiar with the concept of Memes will be aware of the impact the Net has had on the transmission of cultural information. The Internet is a digital extension of the Noosphere [ChefQuix's thoughts on the Noosphere]. Much like the toughts processed by our brains, information and ideas on the Internet can be forgotten, archived, or reinforced through conscious use/retrival.
Picture the Net as external memory for humanity. Through our use of the Net, we add our individual consciousness to the consciousness of the whole. There are various tools that can be used to view a snapshot of our external consciousness.
For example, we can use blogdex to see what WE -a digital extension of the Royal We- are currently thinking about. As I write this, WE seemed to be grieving the loss of Hunter S. Thomspon. (OUR thoughts will no doubt have shifted by the time I post this entry tomorrow.)
For a glimpse of what information WE currently find fascinating, we can turn to the world of social bookmarking. Gone are the days when you saved your favorite sites locally on your browser. Tools like del.icio.us, Spurl, Furl, and Stumble Upon allow us to share our Internet finds with the rest of the commune. A visit to Spiderous reveals which pages are currently peaking OUR interest.
Because these tools allow us to categorize and tag our findings, we can narrow our snapshot to a specific category. By entering http://del.icio.us/tag/politics into our location bar, we can see how the Net is reacting to our present (or at times past) political climate. Likewise, http://del.icio.us/tag/music or http://del.icio.us/tag/philosophy can provide hours of quality reading material. (Quality, in the sense that at least one person within the Internet commune found the page worth bookmarking. The number of users who saved the page can be seen below the link.)
I use Spurl to save my bookmarks, which in turns submits them to del.icio.us [My del.icio.us]. The best part of Spurling a link, is that not only is the link itself saved, but a copy of the page is also archived. This opens up the possibility to search the WWWW (Worthwhile World Wide Web). No longer must I waste time hunting through the commercial sites and the information pollution returned by a regular web search. To search Spurl is to search an archive of information pre-sorted by the commune, information ranked by praise. (Cory Doctorow's free book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, explores the idea of applying praise ranking to people.)
Ok. Enough chatter. Here are some links I've recently discovered (aka MLP):
- To know The Game is to play the game. One can never stop playing.
- To think of The Game is to lose The Game. Therefore, the object of the game is to forget that it exists.
- When one loses the game, one must announce that one has lost the game to everyone present (usually by saying "Darn! I just lost the game!").
- An optional (and often accepted) variant of the game: When a game loss is announced, all other players have an approximately 30 minute grace period which they may use to again forget about the game.
How very zen.
Hunt Roman - The Birth of A Type.
Learning to cook? How to cut anything, with instructions for lefties (handed, not political) too.
Translation, the debate continues.
Long time blogger Jason Kottke has decided to pursue his blog as a full time job.