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Monday, September 24, 2012

My top ten, can't miss, websites

I think we, as genealogy bloggers, focus so much on genealogy sites, we sometimes ignore other websites that are extremely valuable, not just for genealogy but for lots of other uses. But the very idea of listing non-genealogy websites raises some interesting questions, such as whether or not to include archive sites that technically are not specifically for genealogy, but are very useful for research. For example, is a newspaper archive a genealogy site? Not really.

Also, do you list sites that have a huge number of resources simply because they have a huge number of resources? I think not. Size is only one of the criteria. I decided this list was based mostly purely on utility. Another question is whether you list search sites such as Google. Basically, I use Google all day every day but what's the point of listing it in a list of go-to sites? Every computer user on the Internet has likely heard of Google. At the same time, what about blogging sites. This list of websites could quickly become my top 100 or even top 1000 favorite sites, but then the word "favorite" begins to lose meaning. So for this reason, I do not include Google Books, which I use all the time.

Also, I am not including programs. So, for example, even though I use Skype and Evernote every day, they are not included in my list because they are online applications not websites as such. That' my distinction whether it makes sense or not.

I am also excluding social networking sites. Obviously, I use Google+, Facebook and Twitter almost daily. I did not list any legal websites, mainly because I don't go to them unless I have to use them.

So, I decided to list my preferred websites with a short explanation concerning how and why they got to be on the list. After thinking about it for a while, I just decided that sites went on this list because I thought they should be there. I can unequivocally say, that I use all of these site continually, some on a daily basis. But I also have to admit that I do not use some of them daily or even weekly. They are listed simply because I like the websites.

Here is my list:

#1. WorldCat.org
This is a huge site with over 1.5 billion entries (with a "b") but size is only one of the useful factors. This site is extremely valuable and easily takes my number one position. I use the site to find books and to automate citations. Very useful. Never underestimate the utility of using this site regularly.

#2. Library of Congress
I put this second because I really like the Library of Congress. I just wrote a blog post about the LOC and I guess I haven't changed my mind.

#3. Amazon.com
OK, you are saying, what good is a store? Think about it. I check here for equipment and many of my blog posts on technology are researched on Amazon.com. I also use the Kindle portion to download purchased books and check out digital books from the local library.

#4. Internet Archive (Archive.org)
Does this qualify as a genealogy site or not? Not really. It is a mixture of a lot of different things and I just find this to be a hugely interesting website with some really unusual stuff. Sort of like an online antique store.

#5. Hathi Trust Digital Library
Another book site. You are probably getting the idea that books and research sort-of dominate my life and you would be correct. This is a site with another few millions of books in fact over 10.5 million volumes online.

#6. Netflix.com
This is honesty time. I really like watching movies and have seen thousands during my lifetime. So my life is books and movies.

#7. LDS.org
This is my church's major website and I have to admit that I spend quite a bit of time and use the resources extensively. It does have some specific resources relating to genealogy also.

#8. Maricopa County Library
Back to books. When I started thinking about this idea, I guess I didn't realize that most of the sites would be about books in some form or another. I use the library site to gain access to HeritageQuestOnline.com.

#9. Pandora.com
I usually can't listen to music and write, but if I am editing photos or something routine like that, it keeps me awake and from falling off my chair.

#10. 360Cities.net
This is a site I go to frequently, not just because I post photos there, but because it is really neat to see the photos from other photographers. A few of my grandchildren love the site also.


So there you have the top ten for today. Of course, I may change my mind anytime, but these are really interesting sites and I would miss any one of them if they went away.

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