Web Sites Worth Getting Tangled In: Two destinations that impress with their depth of resources

By Alex Beckett


Teachers sending students to Bartleby.com for some specific purpose risk only that its wealth of fascinating information will distract them from their assignment.

Named for Bartleby the Scrivener, the title character in the book by Herman Melville, Bartleby.com is a collection of reference and literary works unequalled on the web.

On this site you can find the full text of major encyclopedias, books of quotation, dictionaries, thesauruses, writing guides and major works of literature (including Shakespeare’s 37 plays and 154 sonnets) as well as some less obvious choices like Gray’s Anatomy and Emily Post’s Etiquette.

In the case of Shakespeare and other major writers, the text is accompanied by complementary biograph-ical information from various sources. It’s the ability to search the full text of these resources that makes this site a remarkable tool. For example, I found 357 references to the word "blood" in Shakespeare. Not a bad start for a student writing about Shakespeare’s use of blood as a metaphor for … well, whatever.

Teachers and students looking for major Canadian writers will be disappointed. The site is based in the U.S. and its slant towards the American canon is obvious. But notwithstanding that disappointment, anyone will be impressed by what the site does offer. But be warned: a quick visit to scan what is available can often lead to hours of self-indulgent, yet fascinating, roaming throughout the site.


From the earliest days of the web, the index site has been the backbone of a good surfing experience. An index site is one on which users find categorized links to other resources on the Web. Yahoo.com is the grand-daddy of all index sites and even though search engine technology has improved drastically over the last few years, this directory, maintained by humans no less, continues to be one of the most used sites on the web.

DiscoverTeenergy.com is a little garish, and lacks Yahoo’s polished simplicity, but as an index it is a direct descendant. It features an admirable collection of links specifically for Canadian teens in categories such as Leadership, Never Be Bored, Party Time, Volunteering and many more. At first such categorization seems a little trite, but the user is soon impressed by the sheer number of links, many to small yet interesting sites that might not appear high on search results. There’s also a growing collection of original content on the site. Teachers searching for teen-oriented resources on the web will find this a useful starting point.

Alex Beckett is the College’s web site editor. He can be reached at abeckett@oct.ca.

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