Beyond Google

Reference & News

Illustration by Jim Ludke
Illustration: Jim Ludtke
I am fighting a hereditary condition that impels me to accumulate clutter and to fill basements with boxes of junk at an alarming speed. So I save as little paper as possible, including old books and magazines. With these thorough reference sites, who needs 'em?

Online directories: The jam-packed Refdesk.com is full of facts and figures, updated news, and links to sources from phone books to world clocks. The site virtually speed-dials the answers to you. (Warning: If you're a word-of-the-day type, you may get sucked in by its many language goodies.) If Refdesk.com doesn't satisfy your trivia jones, browse to Gary Price's Fast Facts page, where you can consult a directory that covers everything from baseball to plastics.

For another one-stop facts and reference shop, consider Martindale's The Reference Desk, with links to world clocks, boating knots, international copyright information, travel tips, and scientific libraries. Also fast and furiously helpful is the Open Directory Project's reference search. Assembled by volunteers, the site lists diverse categories of information and is ad-free.

Homework helpers: The Yahoo Education page is especially handy for kids' research projects. This site lets you search current reference titles, including world fact books and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, and it won't overwhelm young researchers. Or try Wikipedia, a volunteer encyclopedia with a global flavor, for data on topics from math to mythology to the arts.

Education: The Educator's Reference Desk (see FIGURE 1

Figure 1: Teachers and parents alike will find useful education resources at the Educator's Reference Desk.
) has resources, answers, articles, and links to organizations for parents and teachers. Topics include peer counseling, safety, and distance learning, among others.

Associations: The American Society of Association Executives' Gateway to Associations Online lets you search more than 6500 associations, using keywords or any word that appears in the association's name. These groups often corral the best, most current information on topics for work and home.

News or magazine articles: All of the major search sites have their own feature-packed news pages. When you can't find a current story or topic at news.google.com, visit Daypop, which searches more than 59,000 news sites plus Web logs. Looksmart's FindArticles allows you to search on a topic, though strangely, not on an author name. To search for magazine articles on a topic or by author name, consult with MagPortal.com (see FIGURE 2

Figure 2: Get quick access to magazine articles on dozens of popular and academic topics at MagPortal.com.
), a site that rounds up articles on such subjects as computers, health, business, entertainment, and politics. When you find an article that helps, the site scouts out more like it. To access current opinion pieces from about 600 English-language publications, visit the Opinion-Pages.

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