Recreational Surfing

By McGuire, Francis; Allen, Lawrence R. | Parks & Recreation, June 1997 | Go to article overview

Recreational Surfing


McGuire, Francis, Allen, Lawrence R., Parks & Recreation


"There is only one problem with the Information Age: there's entirely too much information. It keeps getting harder to find the needles, because the haystacks are always bigger:" --Alta Vista

The 1990s will be remembered as the decade when more information became available to more people than at any time in history. This information explosion is closely tied to the development of the World Wide Web, a way to find and make use of information on the Internet. Venditto (1996) indicated the Web included approximately 19 million home pages in early 1996 with the number of home pages doubling every four months. The result was over 150 million home pages expected by the end of 1996. The ability to use this information will be a significant factor in determining who will flourish and who will decline as we enter the new millennium.

According to British author/critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), "Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it." The value of the World Wide Web lies in the vast source of information about a subject it provides. However, the tremendous growth of this resource has made it difficult to find relevant information. There is so much out there, that sorting through it to locate what is significant is a daunting task.

The focus of most professional magazines, including P&R, is on providing information. This column will focus on providing information about where to find: information. Its purpose is to assist the recreation practitioner in identifying useful entry points to the Web.

Entering the words "parks and recreation" on Alta Vista, one of the most comprehensive search engines, yields over 100,000 matching sites. Certainly the vast majority of these are not germane to most parks and recreation professionals. Indeed, with a broad definition of recreation, some sites included Truckworld Online, Models and Stuff and the Sea Kayaking Discussion Page. However, there are also other sites that would be useful to many professionals.

This column will highlight sites on a variety of criteria identified by a number of authorities. When examining each site, we applied the following questions:

1. Does the site contain sufficient information of interest to large numbers of parks and recreation professionals? It may be interesting to know that there is a schedule for the Ocracoke Ferry to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but that is probably not something most recreation professionals need to know. On the other hand, knowing ADA regulations for accessible outdoor areas does relate to many parks and recreation operations.

2. Does the site provide links to other useful sites? Are these links clearly visible and explained? Are the links available? The value of the Web is the opportunity to travel to a variety of locations linked to each other. This allows the user to accumulate knowledge not typically available in one site. We will be looking for expansive sites which lead to interesting places.

3. Does the site provide information in an appealing way? We will look for interesting sites that make effective use of graphics and are easy to read.

4. Is the site updated regularly and is it maintained? Information can become obsolete or incomplete in a short period of time. Sites we include will be recent or recently updated.

5. Is the site easily negotiable? Only sites relatively easy to follow and get around in will be reviewed.

6. Is the information trustworthy? We will seek home pages created by knowledgeable sources with expertise in the parks and recreation field.

Getting Started: Useful Entry Points

National Recreation and Park Association (www.nrpa.org)

This is an excellent site with a great deal of useful information. The site includes P&R magazine, a state-by-state listing of state associations with links to several, an extensive listing of related web sites, a link to NRPAnet (access by membership only) information about playground safety, legislative updates, press releases and upcoming convention news. …

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