The Wired Writer

by Sacha Elizabeth Cohen

If you’re new to the Net, there are abundant resources online to help you learn more about this growing medium. Granted, you may suffer from an acute case of information overload in the beginning, but after a few months you’ll be a pro.

The Net is full of netizens just itching to help out newbies. In fact, it’s part of the Net’s culture to give away information and advice. So, take advantage of all the free stuff that’s out there. Here are a few of the best sites to get you started:

The HelpWeb
Somewhat less information-packed then Learn the Net, this site is also less overwhelming for beginners. It covers all the basics, plus common concerns such as privacy, dealing with spam, and online scams.

One of the earliest sites developed to help, what else, newbies! The site’s splash page is overrun with bandwidth-hogging graphics, but once you get in the front door, you’ll find loads of good resources--plus you can subscribe to the site’s newsletter or sign up for a cybercourse.

Each time I begin a surfing expedition, I come across a few sites that really impress me. Either they are well-designed, incredibly useful, or just plain fun. And this is from someone who visits more than 3,000 sites a month! So, without further adieu, here are two Smart Site-worthy sites.

On one neatly organized page are some of the most useful resources on the Internet. It’s a great place to start for research or information on just about anything. The page has categories such as travel, business, sports, the Internet, and news. This is one place you’ll definitely want to bookmark.

Companies Online
Conducting some competitive intelligence on the Net? One good place to start is this site, where you’ll find information on more than 100,000 private and public companies.

If you’re like me, you probably have a list of bookmarks ranging anywhere from 10 to 1,000. Unfortunately for me, I’m on the latter end. So, to keep my bookmark file from becoming a hellish maze and a giant time waster, I follow these tips to keep my favorite sites within easy reach:

1. Create folders for special interests and research. For example, I have folders on writing, books, software, and business magazines. If you dump sites into the general bookmark folder, it can be frustrating to find what you’re looking for.

2. Use the “What’s New” function in the Bookmark file to find out if the URLs that you have are still current and if content has changed at a particular site. If you hit “cancel” before the What’s New function is complete, it will act as a counter and tell you how many bookmarks are in your folders.

3. Hit “Properties” to find out more about each bookmark. For instance, it will tell you when each bookmark was created, when you last visited the site, and what the site is about (if you’ve taken the time to add a description).

4. Use the “Sort” function to put all your folders and bookmarks into alphabetical order.

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