Posted by: njs44 | December 10, 2009

Top 10 websites

Today the Technology Guardian featured its top 100 websites which you can find here I can’t run to 100, but quickly jotted down (if that’s the right word for typing a list in Word) my favourite 10 websites, those I simply could not live without.

Top of the list is Google and all its various offshoots, such as Googlebooks, Googlemail, Picasa and so on. I suppose there are those who worry about Google trying to take over the world, but I am not of their number. Since I discovered Googlebooks, my life as a researcher has become much easier. When a book is found it can tell you if the book is held in a library anywhere in the world. It also gives you previews of certain pages of some books and this can be extremely useful. In some cases I have bought a book after having studied it in this way, so I don’t think having previews is detrimental to book sales. Of course, it’s not the same as browsing in a really good bookshop, but since it is open 24-7, has some advantages over these.

After Google, my next stop is the Guardian’s website. Even though my newsgirl delivers a printed copy to me every day, I still use the website to check things out, send links to friends and relations, and, in the good old days, when I had time to spare, to print out the Kakuro or Crossword. There are three of us in the house who do these, and only one copy of the paper, so being able to print it off is a great blessing.

Closely following on the heels of the Guardian is the other place I go for News, the BBC. As I never watch TV it is the only way I get to see moving images of World and National events. Also, even though I never watch sport, I do like to keep up with the results and the Live Text commentaries on football matches can be quite amusing to read sometimes.

After current affairs have been taken care of I turn to Youtube for relaxation. I love listening to live performances and Youtube has many of my favourite performers, like Kate Rusby, Karine Polwart and Flook. My musical tastes come and go, and recently I listened to Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, in instalments, on Youtube. Like book-previewing, this method of sampling sometimes leads me to buy a CD and also leads me to discover all kinds of things I might otherwise never come across.

Another source of relaxation is Facebook, if only to check out what my daughters are up to. I don’t spend long there, but it is good for sharing photos and my holiday snaps usually end up there sooner or later.

Of the remaining 5 sites, two are connected with travel, one being the Transport for London Journey planner and the other which I find more useful than Googlemaps, although I know others prefer that.

Returning to the subject of books, if I am buying I usually look at Amazon first of all. I know I should support my local bookshop but they take so long to order things that it is quicker to go online. I can also reason that I am saving petrol, and therefore reducing my carbon footprint, by going online rather than driving to the shops when buying books.

If the books are not for purchase, then the British Library is my home. Their website is great, and, once you get used to the various features, extremely useful. I can download PhD theses for free, order any book for use at the St Pancras Reading Rooms for free, save a record of all the books I’ve ordered, earmark any books I want to get in the future, and when I am at the Library, I can get free wireless internet access. In fact I am typing this in one of the reading rooms at the moment.

Finally for a quick general overview of any subject under the sun you can’t beat Wikipedia. I know there is no guarantee that the information is correct but it is as good a starting place as any when the topic is one I know nothing about.



  1. No comment! Just playing around and now I cannot delete this non-existent comment.

  2. I agree with your top ten. Good choice.

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