Review of Personal Web Pages



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Personal Web Pages

This review has a short tale behind it. A number of years ago, when surfing the Web first became popular, Dr. Linda Jones Roccos, then Assistant Director of the U.S. Center of the Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), and I were having some problems with our computers. Various minions would fiddle with various things and inevitably no matter what was fixed, something else got broken. Dr. Roccos got tired of recreating her bookmarks and decided that she would put all those links on to a Web page, which, indeed, proved stable. At the same time she solved my problem with bookmarks. Why should I bother bookmarking all those sites, when Dr. Roccos had already done it for me? All I needed to do was bookmark her page and I had most of what I needed. What remained was easy for me to control. So, in this review I would like to recommend the heights of personal web pages. There are depths, but you can find those on your own or read John C. Dvorak's article, "Vanity Fair," from PC Computing and posted on his own site [www.dvorak.org].

I begin with my favorite personal web page, that of Dr. Roccos of course, who is now fittingly an electronic services and reference librarian at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. Her personal web address is: www.library.csi.cuny.edu/roccos/. While the site tends to resemble Heraclitus' stream - Roccos often fiddles with its layout, background, and pictures, not to speak of the actual links - it always remains useful. One of the best things about it is that she has kept it simple so that it loads really quickly. In its current incarnation, the main or home page is divided into two groups: direct links and her web pages of links. I find both sections incredibly useful. For example, Roccos has collected all the major web search engines on one line. She has direct links for major associations and libraries, with a slight emphasis on the New York area. The bottom section with her special web pages are more idiosyncratic, but because of that sometimes more useful than the upper half. Like most personal web sites, she provides personal information like her curriculum vitae and e-mail address. So far, she has resisted the temptation, unlike many others with similar sites, to post a photograph of herself, her children, or her pets.

The meat of the bottom section for us, however, is the line labeled "Archaeology," for here she has selected - unlike the wonderful omnium gatherum of Sebastian Heath (classics.lsa.umich.edu) - some of the best sites with pithy summaries. Those summaries save an enormous amount of time. She has sorted the links into major categories: Archaeology, Excavations, Art History, Museums, Classics, and Mythology. Each major category is then subdivided into logical sections.

Let me give you an idea of how I use her site. Last year I needed to figure out whether a LIMC entry to a piece in Birmingham meant a museum in Birmingham, Alabama, or Birmingham, England, since the LIMC, like most publications in our field, does not distinguish between European cities and their "offspring." (Toledo in the LIMC actually refers to the museum in Toledo, Ohio, rather than Toledo, Spain, but then the LIMC has no references to El Greco.) So I went to Roccos' web page, selected the link to her page for Museums where I immediately found the site that lists all museums in the world. I was then able to check out the museums in both Birminghams to confirm my suspicion that the LIMC Birmingham meant England. (In the process, I discovered the Museum of Lawn Mowers, but that's what the Web is about.) I could have found the general Museum listing in other ways, but going to Roccos' page was the fastest way for me to do it. The secret to the utility of other people's personal web pages is finding the ones that are also useful to you.

To keep this review within bounds, I only mention one other "personal" web site that I found useful. [Truth in Review: the following site was chosen independently by me and has nothing to do with the fact that the site belongs to one of the editors of BMCR.] James O'Donnell's site [ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/] resembles Roccos' in certain ways: it is both personal and extraordinarily useful to others. In his case, I'm not going to focus on the basic links he provides to sources in the field, but on the extensive material he provides for how to use the Web in teaching [ ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/teachdemo/teachdemo.html; also available via Roccos' site]. He explains what MOOs are. He posts his classes on his web site so you can get an idea of how to do it well. He even includes some of his students' assignments, which at times I have found quite interesting for demonstrating how good students can be and, alas, just how bad. The combination, however, is salutary.

Many professors are now making parts of their courses available on the Web. Often these sites are more what I would consider "personal" rather than "official" department-based web sites. How do you find them? Roccos gives some in her list, but even more interesting is that Roccos links to a site that is devoted precisely to keeping track of "Homepages of the Classicists," mounted by Beau David Case. That address is aptly named: http://aleph.lib.ohio-state.edu/~bcase/hoipolloi.html. [April 8, 1999: URL corrected; previous listing showed the same domain and directories, but index.html rather than hoipolloi.html. The previously listed URL led to the Ohio State University Libraries home page. - ed.] If you would like to be listed, go to the site and follow the instructions. From surfing this list, I found that the majority of links are to American pages, but there are a smattering of foreigners, whose pages resemble ours. That is, a curriculum vitae appears along with an occasional photograph and links to their favorite sites, which tend naturally to be more in Europe than here and therefore a useful balance to our general listings. As a minor aside, O'Donnell's address is given here, but not that of Roccos.

Occasionally I have bumbled into personal web sites of non-classicists with equally interesting results. At Rutgers, a computer scientist listed bookstores that give discounts on computer books. I bookmarked those bookstores, but not his site.

As for me, I still don't have my own web page, but I do bookmark more than I used to and the range is curious. I have bookmarks for the weather (a permanent one for New York City where I live and temporary ones for where I'll be traveling), currency conversion [The Universal Currency ConverterTM at www.xe.net/currency/], computer sites for the hardware and software I use, and stuff to do in New York City. On the more professional side, I have listings for all kinds of bookstores (I love buying books) including ABE Book Search [abebooks.com] for out of print books, recommended by a secondhand book dealer. I also have links for searching the web in related academic fields. I give the following in hopes that they may prove useful:


Addendum, July 1999

For the information of avid re-readers of reviews, I would like to bring to their attention the following URL, which was brought to my attention by its owner, Peter Riedlberger, after reading this review. Dr. Riedlberger has a site containing links to a number of bookstores, both used and new, in Europe. With these links you can shop online for books in classics and classical archaeology. To spend your money, go to: http://www.riedlberger.de/.



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