The world on your computer screen

By DEBORA RUBI

World Maps (http://www.justmaps.org) is a great site in researching sites around the world, be it to plan a vacation or find information for an article. As is self explanatory, in the simplest of functions the website provides maps from around the world. So, for now we’ll treat it as a virtual globe, spin around and see where we end up.

First, the maps are divided by continents. Once having chosen the African continent, the maps are divided by country. Unfortunately, the site does not include maps for every African country, but for this exercise we’ll choose the maps of Ghana. For this specific country there are four types of maps as well as maps for individual cities (obviously more popular countries would have a bigger variety of maps). There are road maps, maps based on topography, and maps based on population.

Here we already see that the site would be useful not only in finding locations if on a trip, but also finding important information about a country that could be useful to a story being written.

In addition, the site provides other great references. One of the most useful is a link to newspapers. The website provides a listing of international newspapers and media. For now, we’ll search for one related to Ghana. On the top banner are links to divide by regions to help narrow down our search to only African newspapers. The newspapers provided range from typical daily journals to journals of art, science, and politics.

This is not limited to newspapers. It brings up blogs, television stations, radio, magazines and even almanacs that could provide useful information on the region being searched. The searching method can be tedious at times if going through the specific sections, and searching Ghana on the top right search box yields no results.

There are options to search by country that are much simpler, although it quickly becomes clear that only ‘major’ countries at covered. At the same time, this is a great way to get in touch with local media of the country you wish to research. This helps provide a localized view of the country, rather than the at times detached voice of reference books or travel guides.

Going back to the home page of World Maps, we find a section for language courses. This provides links to language courses around the world, which while interesting serves little research value. Back on the home page there are also travel guides for a select group of countries that run across the bottom of the screen.

The media website is the most in depth research tool, but the addition of the maps and flags also available on the site would help to research and visualize and stories that may be in the works.

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