Coming up with a list of the 7 best websites for research and recreation is tricky because everyone’s definition of research and recreation is different.
Keeping this in mind, let’s venture forth! Some of these websites you will have heard about, but you may not be aware of some of their hidden features. Additional links will therefore be provided – mostly of interest for “creatives” and developers.
Before we provide a review, let’s list and link to these beauties! (each opens on a new tab)
- Wayback Machine
- Internet Archive
- Project Gutenberg
- GOOGLE Earth, Maps and Street View
“The musical time machine”
This is a ridiculously awesome website (but don’t blame me if it makes you procrastinate!). The first thing you’ll notice is the onscreen display: so simple, yet so instantly functional.
Choose an era (from 1900 to now); select a country from the world map (zoom in and navigate with your mouse) and optionally – choose a music style from Slow, Fast or Weird. The music will autoplay and it will continue to do so, – with recommendations based upon your selected criteria.
Sit back and enjoy, or open a new tab and work on in musical style. An audio time machine worthy of a visit!
Did you know?
- Click the TAXI button to choose a series of time zones and destinations – for a unique musical time list.
- Sign up for to be a part of the Radiooooo.com community or find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
2.) Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine is a massive project which aims to take periodic snapshots of the Internet, allowing you to visit a website at various times in the past – even if the website no longer exists. In fact to be honest – that’s the whole point of it.
The result is a fascinating resource containing some 502 billion web pages – and it’s not just for digital historians and webmasters who’ve lost important pages. Ever wondered what a certain website looked like in a certain year? Well worth a bookmark.
3.) Internet Archive
“Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.”
- eBooks and Texts
- Audio Archive
- Moving Image Archive
- The Internet Archive Software Collection
- The Images library.
The resources available are worthy of many blog articles – it really is a massive online resource. Great for mixing research and recreation.
Did You Know? –
Internet Archive will happily host your audio or video for free, and they allow you to embed or share it anywhere.
4.) Project Gutenberg
A volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks.”
One of the founding fathers of digital archival, Gutenberg is the home of out-of-copyright books. They have thousands. Bonus: there’s no fee or registration required!
Browse their catalog, and if you can’t find the book you are looking for check out Project Gutenberg Australia.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Wikipedia! Knowledge became free with the World Wide Web; access was not. Wikipedia changed things. The site is many peoples’ starting point for knowledge – it’s introducing more video and continues to grow, in English and non-English languages. It’s currently the 6th most popular website in terms of numbers of visitors.
While Google aren’t the only company mapping the world, their system is the cleverest – and the possibilities are endless.
The website version allows you to move around the map and change the image from map to satellite, but for me, the fun REALLY begins when you drop the little yellow man on to a road – and enter Street View Mode. At any time, it’s possible to copy the URL and share this location and with regular updates. Street View is beginning to allow a form of visual time travel – a slider to move you back in time is available. Worth experimenting with.
Did You Know?
For the more serious user, all these features and many more are available on Google Earth – the downloadable version which requires a live internet connection.
Google Earth allows you to
- Drop Pins and measure distances around the globe
- Go under the ocean
- Switch to 3d Mode to see cities and mountains cleverly recreated
- Anaglyph 3d Glasses mode (oldtime 3d!)
- Switch on a variety of “layers” – to see everything from earthquakes to roads and personal campaigns
- Simulate the stars
- Use Virtual Flying Mode
“The Urban Legends Reference Pages”
Snopes describes itself as the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. It’s certainly a form of research and creation rolled into one. Truth can be hard to come by nowadays, and fewer people fact check before clicking the SHARE button. Hence, before believing those rumors, give this site a check.