Web Sources: Part 1
Many of us spend most of our time on the web visiting a handful of sites. These sites vary by country, but in the U.S., we spend much of our time on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, TikTok, Wikipedia, and a few others.
That's fine, of course, but the web is composed of billions of web pages, and many are worth knowing and exploring.
We also spend most of our time on a variety of domains.
This includes sites ending with .com, .org, .edu, etc.
But remember that you've already learned how to search the web,
and if you're interested in learning more about what's out there,
I encourage you to add a
:site operator to your web queries
if you want to vary things up every once in a while.
Remember that there about 1,500 top level domains,
and it can be fun to add random ones to your searches:
asthma site:health (linux or windows or macos) site:computer
That said, in this and the next section I want to cover a few specific sites that are great information resources.
The Internet Archive is a "non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more."
For example, you might be interested in playing some old PC games that your parents played when they were younger:
The Archive also provides the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is an archive of the web from its early days to the present. It's fun, for example, to use it to see what the web looked like years ago. For example, this is likely UK's first web page and was captured by the Wayback Machine in 1997:
But the Wayback Machine is also useful to retrieve web pages and sites that have been shutdown or removed. That is, if you have a broken URL, you can enter the URL in the Wayback Machine and see if the original page was archived.
The Internet Archive is also a library, and as such, offers collections on a vast range of topics and links to all sorts of media, including text, audio, video, and images.
You can view its main collections on the home page of the Internet Archive. You can also search. I've found, for instance, scanned yearbooks from my college.
The Internet Archive also oversees The Open Library. You can use the Open Library to check out and read books for free, just like you would use a physical library.
The DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) is a shared repository of content that brings together digital and digitized sources from libraries, museums, and archives across the U.S.
The DPLA is great for browsing, but they also provide guides for those interested in using the DPLA for Education, Family Research, Lifelong Learning, and Scholarly Research.
Like a library, museum, or archive, the DPLA offers:
- featured exhibitions
- primary source sets
- the ability to browse by topic
- the ability to browser by contributor
- and more.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress provides a list of bibliographies, research guides, and finding aids on a vast range of topics. Many of the links in this list go directly to digital libraries that focus on specific topics or areas. For example, check out this fun collection of resources on dance manuals published from 1490 through 1920.
The Library of Congress also provides access to digital collections on subjects ranging from American History, War & Military, Art & Architecture, Sports & Recreation, Science & Technology, and more.
Various Government Resources
The United States Census Bureau is the best way to get various demographic and some economic information about the U.S. You can also get Quick Facts about your local area. You can, for example, also compare demographics by location. Here's a population comparison between Lexington, KY and Cincinnati, OH.
NASA's website offers tons of sources on all of its major projects. From its homepage, you can download apps, audio & ringtones, e-books, and podcasts. The site also provides information on various missions, like the recent James Webb Space Telescope as well as exciting image and video galleries.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the go to site for job and economic information. The site takes some exploration to learn all that it offers, but I can provide two examples.
The Data Tools dropbox box provides employment change data for various sectors of the U.S. As of June 2022, we see that manufacturing jobs in the U.S. increased by an estimated 29,000, government jobs decreased by an estimated 9,000, and overall non-farm jobs increased by 372,000.
The CPI Inflation Calculator shows how the value of the dollar has changed over time. For example, I can see that $1.00 in June of 2021 has the same buying power as $1.09 in June of 2022, which shows that, on average, what costs me a $1.09 in June 2022 cost me a $1.00 the summer prior.
This calculator is useful in a lot of ways. For example, the tuition to attend UK for the 2002-2003 academic year was $1,740 per semester, and for the 2022-2023 academic year, it is $6,340. The CPI calculator shows that if tuition increased at the same rate as inflation, then today's tuition cost should only be $2,865.93 per semester (from June 2002 to June 2022). That means the extra $3,564 spent on tuition today increased due to other (complicated) factors.
You can also see how home prices have changed. The house I rent was purchased for $101,650 during the summer of 2001. Today the owners could easily sell for around $250,000 (estimated by realtor.com). But inflation only accounts for a $171,016 price tag. Thus the extra $70,000 or so is factor of other market forces.
Property information like this is generally public information. Fayette County, the seat of Lexington, KY, provides this information at https://fayettepva.com/. You can check your local municipality's website for comparable information. In fact, many city and county websites make available lots of data.
EDGAR: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
EDGAR is a go to site if you're thinking about investing in a public company. Of particular interest are the 10-K and 10-Q reports. The 10-K report is an annual report that public companies are required to submit to the SEC. The 10-Q report is the quarterly version.
The 10-K report:
Provides audited annual financial statements, a discussion of material risk factors for the company and its business, and a management's discussion and analysis of the company's results of operations for the prior fiscal year (Form Type Description)
The 10-Q report is unaudited.
The EDGAR search page is pretty straightforward and offers autocomplete as you type. My search query in Figure 1 is a search for Google's (specifically, Alphabet's) last 10-K report, which was filed on February 2, 2022.
If you read the report, you can see that, for example, more than 80% of Google's (or Alphabet, specifically) revenue is based on advertisements, and that changes in privacy policies and technologies that protect privacy is a concern for them.
Lastly, I would like to refer you to MedlinePlus, which is part of the National Library of Medicine. The purpose of this site is to serve as a health and medical reference resource for the general public. Although no online site can take the place of professional medical help, MedlinePlus can be an important resource for becoming more informed about various health topics.
Instead of googling that next symptom or condition, I highly encourage you to visit MedlinePlus first. The site also covers wellness topics and provides recipes for a wide range of meals.
Although it's important to know how to search the web well, it's also handy to know about specific go to resources on the web that can provide more in-depth information or that provide more coverage than most Google etc searches can yield. In order to highlight this, in this section I covered a few, I think, super interesting and helpful sites that include the:
- Internet Archive
- Open Library
- Library of Congress
- U.S. Census
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- EDGAR (SEC)
Be sure to explore these sites, as well as others you find, because many of these just don't come up in your everyday kind of search.