Here at Weekender we spend a lot of
time on the internet researching on the world wide web. It is a vital resource
for most office jobs in the modern era, and it’s hard to imagine a world
without it. At least that’s our excuse. Anyway, here are five sites that we
keep coming back to again and again.
The classic satirical American news
site is consistently brilliant as it lampoons the media world mercilessly while
concurrently pricking at anything or anyone self-important, bigoted and false.
The site is laid out like a ‘real’ online news source, complete with
brilliantly written stories and increasingly-sophisticated video reports.
Broadband is pretty much ubiquitous
these days but merely being online isn’t a gateway to anything unless you know
where to look. So many times, surfing the net for entertainment can tend to
lead you back to the same cycle of Facebook, Twitter, sports sites and, well,
whatever other sites you might want to view in the privacy of your own home.
The genius of StumbleUpon is that it acts as a random, personalised search that
will send you to sites that match your interests. Once you’ve told it what you
like, then a treasure trove of the obscure and the wonderful awaits. There are
sites you’ll find on StumbleUpon that wouldn’t even make it to page 150 of a
Google search and thus the web’s oft-referenced democratic side is showcased
perfectly for a change.
Not quite a hidden gem, but a
maddeningly exhaustive website of over 140 million second-hand books. AbeBooks
is the concept of the long tale writ large; some of the stuff for sale on there
has been out of print for years. AbeBooks brings together thousands of
booksellers in one easy-to-navigate place. Books are searchable by author,
title, keyword or ISBN. Since there’s no minimum purchase, you could pick up
that copy of Elvis Presley Speaks From Beyond The Grave by Hans Holzer for,
well, a dollar, plus shipping, as it turns out.
One for surfing at home, rather
than the office, this. Mousebreaker is a brilliant collection of online
flash-based games. Classics include the wildly-popular Blast Billiards series,
the footy game Jumpers For Goalposts – where you control the career of your footballer
from youth team to the World Cup – and the almighty genius of Kebab Van. That’s
a game where you control a kebab van. Mousebreaker has hundreds of games,
puzzles and interactive stuff. It’s the internet equivalent of the amusement
arcade, but here all the games are free.
The web’s greatest strength is also
its greatest weakness – and that is the sheer quantity of information and speed
of updates. Think back to the websites you first used to surf. Are they still
there? With the demise or expiry of host names or services, many of the older
sites have disappeared into the ether forever, leaving not a trace of the
information that used to be so vital way back when. Luckily, archive.org has
indexed and rescued many of these sites from the net black hole and features
the way back machine – a searchable database of old websites. It’s kind of like
an online library of out-of-print books, but there are sections designated for
moving images, live music archive, text and audio.