The internet has provided people the world over with an increasingly important tool for gathering and keeping knowledge. Anyone and everyone now has the ability to find information freely on a wide variety of subjects from gross anatomy to how to easily dress your cat up like a cartoon character. Perhaps the most important thing the age of the world wide web has brought us is the ability to access reference material online.
Online reference is especially important to academics. Whereas before a history professor may have had to travel from his home in Buffalo, New York to the British Library in London to access very useful texts on Hadrian’s Wall, now much of that information may be accessible through reference material online. This clearly makes research and teaching easier to execute in an intelligent, informed way.
Of course, online reference isn’t universally as reliable as the annals of the British Library. Public sources of information such as Wikipedia allow users to add online articles on subjects that they feel they are well versed in. The issue with public knowledge databases like this is that they are often times not fact checked regularly. This sometimes leads to articles online which are revisionist or downright incorrect in their content. For obvious reasons, this can be troublesome for college students, journalists, and anyone else looking to learn.
Even with that being the case, the huge growth in availability of online references has certainly only helped the world. As you would when reading a newspaper, novel, or any other traditional form of information, you must be careful to consider the source. After that you can decide for yourself whether or not your source of online info is credible.