novcover.jpg (13917 bytes)
December 1998

netwat.jpg (4487 bytes)

AG00041_.gif (503 bytes) Back to the College's Home Page

The Art of Surfing

If you select a term like "the arts," when you search the web, you soon see why so many call the World Wide Web the "World Wide Waste-of-Time." Make your searches artful.

By Brad Ross

Imagine doing a keyword search using "the arts." Let me save you a few minutes and tell you that "the arts" returned 750,000 hits. Even the greenest newbie will tell you that a simple search like that can be a colossal waste of time.

So, where do you begin when "the arts" encompasses everything from music, to drama, to sculpture, to the novel, to architecture and, well … you see the point.

This is not a primer on search engines and how to find a needle among needles. All of the major search engines and web directories have FAQs – frequently asked questions – on how to conduct useful searches on the web.

But you do need to consider, carefully, what it is you want from the web when you go looking. Are you conducting research? Are you looking to be entertained? Do you want the experience to be a passive one, or would you like to interact with what you find? Are you looking only for Canadian-based sites, or do you want a global perspective?

Defining your search criteria is key. Teachers who are teaching the new arts curriculum this fall might want to visit these sites. While they don’t address the curriculum document directly, they give a flavour of the diversity of sites out there and help you hone your own web searches to a fine art.

Writers in Electronic Residence

Administered by York University’s faculty of education, the Writers in Electronic Residence (WIER) program connects students from across the country with professional writers. The WIER site offers features that include the Cool Poem of the Week and a host of on-line resources for all grade levels interested in the writing process. An excellent resource for both teachers and students.

Zot’s List of Improv Games

This site won’t win any awards for graphics – there aren’t any. But it does offer some very creative games for drama students. Improv can be a lot of fun and is often cited as an excellent way for all students of drama – even the pros – to warm up. The games page is just one page of a larger site
,  but it demonstrates how careful info mining can return even the most obscure – and useful – sites.

Cinemouse Entertainment

The folks at Disney have nothing to fear, but this site is a good example of where digital art is going from a public performance perspective. Before the web (1994), digital art was relegated to small galleries and tiny corners at cultural festivals – all in big cities. You needed to live in New York or London or Toronto to see what these new artists were creating and where technology was taking them. The web, of course, allows anyone – including those with minimal talent– to share their wares with ’net surfers. Interesting stuff.

Music, the Universal Language!

The beauty of web rings is the ability to find web sites that are like-minded. A web ring is simply a ring of web sites dedicated to the same topic. Music, the Universal Language! is one such site. Web sites like this one, and those it links to on the ring, are built by people whose passion is the subject in question – in this case, music. They routinely share links and on-line games. While the array of graphics and multiple font types (web design is an art) can be jarring, this "music educator’s web site" is a good place to start your search for music-related resources.

Brad Ross is associate editor of Professionally Speaking and the College’s web editor. He can be reached by e-mail at