You should always analyze the contents of a site before accepting its information as factual. The internet allows virtually any user to share whatever information they please whether fact or fiction. With such easy entry to publishing it is important to decipher an authoritative website from a mess of junk. The following is an analysis of five websites that focus on the era of the 60s.
The Lone Star College website American Cultural History from 1960-1969 appears to be an authoritative site. The second paragraph begins with “The purpose of this web and library guide is to help the user gain a broad understanding and appreciation for the culture and history of the 1960s”, leaving no confusion as to what the site is all about. At the bottom of the page, Susan Goodwin and Becky Bradley are identified as the web page writers who last updated the site in July of 2010. Their names are also linked to their e-mail accounts, which allows the reader to contact them if necessary. The site begins with a brief write up for the decade and statistical information regarding population size, unemployment rate, national debt, average salary, etc. The body of the website includes a general discussion of categories such as art, literature, education, fashion, historic events, technology, music, film, and sports is included with many links to other websites as well as book suggestions for more information.
The website A Trip Through the Sixties does not appear to be a very authoritative voice, especially because there is no identified author. You have to search through the home page to read that hippy.com is an anti-war free speech site that allows any registered member to submit articles, videos, pictures, etc. From the articles I found the writers do not include links to support their information or provide alternative sources. It appears to be more of a recreational, interactive site for members than an informational website on the 60s era.
While The Almost Great Society was better than hippy.com, it is not as authoritative as it should be. Stanley Schultz is identified as the author of the website, which includes lecture notes from his history class at the University of Wisconsin. The text itself is grammatically correct and appears to be intellectually written but there is no linking out within the body of the site. Two of the four links at the end of the lecture notes are broken, while the fourth does not appear to be an authoritative site in itself (no author identified, no evidence or record of using outside sources, etc). Also, the page copyright is 2006 and recent updates are not identified.
The Psychedelic ‘60s website is an older page design, but it does not render itself to be a bad website because of its age. I say this because the body text found within each category (foreward, introduction, 19thC Precursors) does not include links to other sites or sources. However, the Special Collections Department at the University of Virginia Library is identified as the primary source for the website which was last updated in December of 2009. The foreward link gives an introduction to the website and goes on to identify two literary collections as the sources of information for the creation of the website. Each category has pictures identifying the sources of information.
The Sixties Project is an authoritative website that allows the reader to dive into the history of the 60s as a ‘sixties survivor’, a ‘casual surfer’, or a ‘scholar’. While the site isn’t eye-catching and the design looks outdated the Sixties Project link clearly identifies the sites purpose: “The Sixties Project began as a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the Sixties.” Kali Tal is identified as the author from the University of Arizona and her contact information is provided. While the site does not contain in-text links the resources section of the website provides additional sources such as scholarly articles, filmographies, and primary documents.
When deciding whether or not a website contains credible information it is important to consider a few things. Remember to look for someone who is responsible for the content on the site, regardless of whether this is identified as an individual, an institution, or a company. Figure out if the site is trying to inform or persuade you and look for simple clues such as grammar and spelling. Also, check for works cited and be aware of how the links (if any) work.