Reference: What the Internet's Really All About

Once upon a time, there was this thing called a card catalog. It was big and bulky and everyone hated it because only librarians knew how to use it to find the reference materials they needed for information.

So what happened was that some very smart people decided to put all the facts and information they possibly could into computer hard drives and then send that information through cables that make it accessible for everyone anywhere in the world to use a reference. Pretty cool, huh?

And that's where you're reading this from now, the World Wide Web - also called the Internet, or what many of us call the Superhighway. The terrific thing is that Internet reference possibilities truly are endless. You can use it for anything from finding a recipe to getting an instant online insurance quote to buying books, music and movies to looking up your family genealogy.

Most people think of search engines when they think about how to find reference information on the Internet. Google and Yahoo are heavy hitters in this arena. There's also Lycos, MSN and at least a million others. Don't believe it? Go to Google and type in search engines, and you'll be amazed at how many hits you'll get.

You can also go to individual sites for the reference information you need. Ask Jeeves is a very popular reference site. is another. Most companies and businesses have their own sites where you can also go to for information about particular products or services.

There are also directories where reference information is broken down into categories and subcategories. For example, you can search a directory for reference information on, say, poetry. You'll get a page with the word poetry broken down into categories like poems, poetry magazines, poetry journals, etc. When you click on one of those phrases, you'll go to another page where you'll get that information broken down into further categories, and so on. Web directories are great when you need reference material on a specific subject that's extremely well-defined.

But don't think of the Internet as just a place to look for information. It's a great reference for finding people too. Missing your best friend from grade school? Try the online yellow pages and see if you can find him or her. It may take you several tries and different sites, but if you stick with it, you will no doubt be able to find the person you're looking for. Which just goes to show you that the old saying "You can run, but you can't hide" has never been as true as it is today, thanks to the reference capabilities of the big world wide web.

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