Surfing the internet: electronic library and archival resources for historians

M. Organ, University of Wollongong
C. McGurk, University of Wollongong

Document Type Journal Article

This article was originally published as: Organ, MK & McGurk, C, Surfing the internet: electronic library and archival resources for historians, Provenance - the electronic magazine, March 1996, 1(2).


The Internet is a phenomenon which has gained widespread recognition in a relatively short period of time, whilst the term `Surfing the Internet' is a popular one with the media and computer buffs. It is also an appropriate way of describing a decidedly non-physical activity which, like its more strenuous counterpart, takes us on a journey - nay, an adventure! - in which we are at the mercy of the elements, be they natural or electronic. `Surfers', whether on board, ski, or as body-surfer, catch waves certain of one thing only, namely that they will ultimately end up on the beach. The process of getting there is dependent upon the forces of nature (i.e. the surf) and the skills of the individual. Likewise, `Surfing the Internet' is an adventure into the unknown, fraught with trepidation and danger for the inexperienced.One is liable to take a direction which is unforeseen and uncontrollable, until finally `thrown up upon the beach' at a desirable or satisfactory destination. Alternatively, one can find oneself 'dumped' by the computer. Whilst `Surfing the Internet' may be just as exhilarating (intellectually speaking) as catching a wave, do not expect to emerge from the encounter sun tanned and refreshed, for in reality the majority of Internet surfers are pale-faced and bleary eyed.