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Website of the Week Archive


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HowStuffWorks.com (June 26, 2004) — "It's the place you go when you want to find out how anything works," says founder Marshall Brain, who started the site as a hobby. Now, five million people a month visit the site to learn how anything from diesel engines to nuclear weapons work. And Mr. Brain stresses the news-driven nature of the site. When the first private rocket plane made it into space, HowStuffWorks.com had an article to explain it.

Beliefnet (June 19, 2004) — "Our mission is to help people meet their spiritual needs," says CEO Steve Waldman. Four million people a day receive Beliefnet's newsletters or visit the site, which has articles and other resources for "people who want to learn more about their own faith and those who want to learn about others."

Wikipedia (June 12, 2004) — Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia with a difference. Anyone can contribute to it, writing new articles or editing existing ones. "It's truly global, and we have versions and projects underway in, I think, around 50 languages," says Wikimedia Foundation head Jimmy Wales.

Sky and Telescope (June 5, 2004) — The online version of the venerable astronomy monthly makes no effort to duplicate the content of the magazine. Instead, Editor in Chief Rick Fienberg says it includes "a lot more basic, user-friendly, beginner-friendly material on the website" in addition to the latest developments in astronomy.

Gmail Swap (May 29, 2004) — This site is no longer online. Google is testing a popular, if controversial, new email service, called Gmail. Invitations for a Gmail account are highly prized, and typically sell for $30-40 on Ebay. But Gmail user Sean Michaels, in a throwback to the less commercial days of the Internet, thought a barter system might be a better way. "This is really ... an attempt to put a human face on these types of transactions," he said.

Chemistry.org (May 22, 2004) — The main web site of the American Chemical Society features a wide range of information about chemistry on its site. Much of the information is geared to students, educators and professionals, but there's a lot for interested laypeople, too, including a Molecule of the Week. "Aspirin, caffeine, fructose, ... DNA and capsaicin (which makes peppers hot)" are some of the everyday items that have been featured, according to marketing manager Robin Steffek.

Hubblesite (May 15, 2004) — The official online home of the Hubble Space Telescope includes every released image captured by the orbiting observatory as well as information about the Hubble instrument itself. "We try to keep up on the latest information that has been going on in the [Hubble] project," said Hubblesite news chief Stratis Kakadelis. "It's often hard to find that information in other places."

Librarians' Index to the Internet (May 8, 2004) — There are 12,000 Internet resources listed here, searchable and catalogued by professional librarians to separate the wheat from the chaff. "It is impartial, it is noncommercial, it is evaluated by librarians, and we try to cover as many topics as possible," said director Karen Schneider. Their motto is, "Information you can Trust."

Center for History of Physics (May 1, 2004) — This site includes exhibits on legendary figures such as Marie Curie and Albert Einstein. "They feature voice clips and lots of good photographs and authoritative text," said Spencer Weart, director of the Center. "And we keep it up to date. ... For example, when new letters came out saying a bit more about Einstein's love life, we had to go in and change the text of the exhibits a bit."

NOAA Ocean Explorer (April 24, 2004) — This site, from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, highlights discoveries from beneath the waters that cover three-quarters of Earth's surface. "You join them, when they saw them for the first time, share in the excitement of discovery and the science associated with it," explained NOAA's Fred Gorrell. "It's a great site to go and explore the ocean bottom and, you know, nobody gets wet when they do it in front of their computer."

UNESCO World Heritage Center (April 17, 2004) — The United Nation's cultural organization has named more than 750 sites to its World Heritage list, wonders both natural, such as the Grand Canyon, and human, like Vatican City. "Countries around the world can nominate natural or cultural sites ... which means that site will be protected for future generations," explained editor Karalyn Schenk. The website is in both English and French.

Internet Archive (April 10, 2004) — One reason for this site's popularity is that it periodically takes snapshots of the World Wide Web so, for example, you can see what your favorite site looked like four years ago. But founder Brewster Kahle wants the Internet Archive to be a digital library of sweeping scope. "The idea," he told us, "is to be able to build a library that can be comprehensive, so that a kid in rural Uganda can walk for a day to get to a library and have access to it all, the best works of humankind."

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Website of the Week is a feature of "Our World" and is compiled by program producer-host, Art Chimes.

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