Math and iPads and other web tricks

When it comes to the Internet, I admit it.  I’m a Wikipedia whore. Yup.  Ever since that monumental study came out revealing that Wikipedia was no more error-prone than Encyclopedia Britannica, with far more detailed information about every single season of Star Trek, I have used the great crowd sourcing marvel for everything from quick questions (who did invent phrenology, after all?) to finding the majoritarian impression of Salvador Allende’s death: suicide or assassination? (Suicide is the more common interpretation.  Not if you are at a museum dedicated to his memory, though.)

I also find the plethora of open-source journals available online to be a huge boon to detail-specific research.  When I was researching my great-grandparents for a novel and wanted to find out what their lives as Norwegian immigrants would have been like, the Norweigan American studies journal was invaluable.  If you have a good library supplying your internet (I.e., you are a good KU student or employee), Jstor is the source of all scholarly goodness.
My day job as math teacher also must enlighten you at this time.  If you are mathematically minded, you should check out Wolfram Alpha, which is a sort of search engine for data that has a computer algebra system built in.  It compiles numerical and other data from all over the place and responds to searches with graphs and tables and is an incredibly powerful engine.  The literary minded compare it to the computer in Star Trek or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the struggling math student compares it to a magic machine that does all basic math calculations and a whole lot more.  But it is a great research tool that gives an alternate perspective to all kinds of queries.  The iPad app is also great.*

And finally, I have to put a plug in there for Information is Beautiful, which highlights a magnificent blend of writing, data, and art.  (You could never guess that all my recent writing centers around curriculum for statistics could you.) I find the site to be the future of graphical creation.  It inspires my writing and also asks me how the web will lead graphic organizations of our future literary efforts.  

*I have been writing on my iPad a lot recently, but I am not sure the definitive programs for writers using iPads have been written yet. Scrivener promises to be available soon, someday, and that would be a boon, but I do think you might want to stick with the laptop for a while yet.  Other writers, please inform and disagree with me!

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