TITLE: Encyclopedia Britannica's Eblast
A guide to the Web's top sites, chosen by Britannica's editors
ACCESS: http://www.eblast.com/ or http://www.ebig.com/

Eblast cuts down on the frustration of Internet overload by narrowing choices to selected sites. Formerly known as Encyclopedia Britannica Internet Guide, this recently redesigned hierarchical index to the web is uncluttered and easy to use. Britannica editors choose, annotate, and rate each site as well as provide lots of other information, at a glance, to help you decide if a link is worth the visit. It is a great site for students looking for quality research.

Annotations generally include the title, author or responsible party, a star rating, and a concise description for the site. In addition, Site Statistics feature useful details such as site registration, number of visits, speed, and related topic links. The site's place in the Britannica subject hierarchy completes the annotation, providing links for further exploration.

Searching can be as simple or complex as you wish. Search by key word or phrase via a clearly marked search engine. More focused search options are a click away. In addition, you can choose from categorical subject listings until you find what you want. Various levels allow you to pick and choose along the way. Site of the day, site of the week, and related archives provide links to staff favorites.

The downside of any selective list is that there may not be enough links for your purposes. In fact, it appears that some topic areas here are more well developed than others. For instance, History/United States/Civil War provides superb sites that might be hard to find through Alta Vista or Yahoo. While Environmental Science, under Science Technology, and Math, is lackluster by comparison. Although Eblast provides a spot to hook into an Alta Vista search, it will not, as does Yahoo, do this automatically when your keywords fail.

In addition, you have to put up with advertising, which is comparatively unobtrusive, but still annoying. The site can also run slowly on older technology.

Still, Eblast is a good place to start for finding information on any topic because it is easy to use and the sites you find are generally worth the visit. The statement of authority alone, included in each entry, will save students and scholars hours of online guesswork in the quest for research-worthy sites.

Barbara Valentine
Linfield College

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