The British Libary has put over two million pages of 19th and early 20th century newspapers online. The 49 British national and regional titles cover events including the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the banks crisis of 1878 and the first FA Cup final in 1872. Searches are free, but users have to pay to download information.
The site also features a collection of research tools giving information about the history of newspapers and essays on key events and people.
Guardian.co.uk has country profiles on many of the current 192 member states of the UN, plus Kosovo, Taiwan and Vatican City. Facts and statistics include information on history, population, politics, geography, economy, religion and climate.
The World Digital Library was officially inaugurated today at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It has started small, with about 1,200 documents and their explanations from scholars in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. But it is designed to accommodate an unlimited number of such texts, charts and illustrations from as many countries and libraries as want to contribute.
U.S. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who launched the project four years ago, said the ambition was to make available on an easy-to-navigate site, free for scholars and other curious people anywhere, a collection of primary documents on all subjects and authoritative explanations from the planet's leading libraries. Full story >>
COMMENT There are already plenty of interesting documents which are worth browsing. I came across this poster, produced by Westinghouse during World War II as part of the national campaign in the United States to enlist women in the workforce. Now we know where Barack Obama got the inspiration for his campaign slogan!
In France this gesture would be considered very rude. It looks like the woman is doing a bras d'honneur—the French equivalent of giving someone the finger (US) or the V-sign (UK).
Are you stuck for a technical term in your own or another language? Do what the EU translators do and look in online language search resources. Links to online dictionaries and encyclopedias, term banks and glossaries, style and grammar guides, links to English and Irish institutional sites—it's all here.
An excellent resource for anyone who has to translate from or into English.
NationMaster compiles statistics from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Resources Institute, UNESCO, UNICEF and OECD. Here's how Luke Metcalfe, Manager/Developer, describes it:
The idea for NationMaster arose as I was surfing around the CIA World Factbook. It's a great read but I felt the individual figures (like number of TV's, or kilometres of coastline) didn't mean much on their own. They'd be more illuminating if they were placed alongside other countries and shown relative to population.
So I decided to put together a website that allowed users to generate graphs based on numerical data extracted from the Factbook. The next (rather obvious) realisation was that there's no reason I couldn't take in data from other sources. Why shouldn't the net have a central location that allows you to compare countries on any statistic you like?
But why did I do it? To promote education and understanding about the world. To make it easy to engage with the indicators that shape global commerce, health, politics and ecology. To make the facts easily accessible and meaningful. To bring the works of academics, public agencies and private researchers to a wider audience.
One intended use for this site is, during debates in discussion groups, people link to comparisons of specific countries. I hope students, educators and librarians will find the site a useful teaching aide. More generally, I hope the figures will spark people's interest and they'll want to read more.
An excellent research tool. The Encyclopedia is well worth checking out too.
For decades, The New York Times has not only been a newspaper, but a premier research tool, available in virtually every library around the country through the Times Index, which dates back to 1851.
Topic pages extend that rich tradition into the Internet age, offering archival material on more than 14,000 subjects.
Each topic page collects all the news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files published on topics ranging from Madonna to Myanmar. This treasure trove is available without charge on articles going back to 1981.
Comments A wonderful source of information. Before automatically turning to Wikipedia, check out the Times topic pages.
Not sure whether ‘determine’ is an easier word than ‘terminate’, whether ‘perpetrator’ is easier than ‘wrongdoer’, or whether ‘while’ is more common than ‘whilst’? The Plain English Lexicon enables you to make informed decisions about the familiarity and frequency of 1,200 words that sometimes occur in public-information documents. The lexicon draws on 2 important pieces of research evidence: the US ‘Living Word Vocabulary’ and the British National Corpus of 100m words.
Serge Bohdjalian sent me an e-mail about about a new online dictionary/thesaurus that he's just published. It's called Memidex and here's how he describes on his About page:
Memidex is a free online dictionary/thesaurus and more. The original Memidex database was derived from the WordNet database developed by Princeton University. Several features have been added or exposed, and tens of thousands of additions and corrections have been applied to the initial database.
The unique features of Memidex include:
• detailed information for each sense • more cross-references • convenient hierarchical links • full listing of inflected forms • no obscure abbreviated labels • quick search for exact matches • complete, easily browseable index • easy-to-link-to URLs • clear, simple, uncluttered layout • frequent, recorded updates
The online user-generated encyclopaedia Wikipedia is considering a radical change to how it is run.
It is proposing a review of the rules, that would see revisions being approved before they were added to the site.
The proposal comes after edits of the pages of Senators Robert Byrd and Edward Kennedy gave the false impression both had died.
The editing change has proved controversial and sparked a row among the site's editors.
Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, is proposing a system of flagged revisions, which would mean any changes made by a new or unknown user would have to be approved by one of the site's editors, before the changes were published.
This would mean a radical shift from the site's philosophy that ostensibly allows anyone to make changes to almost any entry. Read full story >>
Do you have trouble remembering facts? One way you can improve your memory is by using mnemonics. A mnemonic (pronounced nuh-monic) is a word, short poem or sentence that is intended to help you remember things such as scientific facts or spelling rules. For example, the rhyme "i before e except after c" is a mnemonic which helps people remember how to spell words such as 'ceiling' and 'believe' (as always, there are exceptions to the rule; 'weird' is one).
One website that promises to help you memorise information by using mnemonics (or links) is Thinkalink. The site is run by a teacher called Andy Salmon, who originally set it up as a hobby. There's a wide range of categories on the site and Andy welcomes suggestions from users.
Verdict: Thinkalink is an attractive site with plenty of interactive features. For example, you can rate links, add new facts and links or suggest a new category. What's more, many of the memory techniques featured on Thinkalink could be used for learning vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Why not sign up for the e-mail link of the week?
"Bartleby.com is a website that allows the intellectually curious to find a full suite of English-language reference works - encyclopedia, dictionary, usage guides, quotation database - to get the answers that they might be looking for," says Steven van Leeuwen, the head of Bartleby.com.
The site's free, online reference shelf includes the Columbia Encyclopedia, the American Heritage Dictionary, Roget's Thesaurus, and many other high-quality reference works.
You can listen to WOW online or download it. A complete transcript is available on the VOA site. You can also find over 200 previous WOWs in the archive.
Verdict: For learners, WOW is a good way of discovering new sites and improving your listening and reading skills at the same time. It's a shame there's no podcast subscription service, however.