Penn Web Connects You to Penn and the WWWorldSuppose it's Saturday evening. You're in a restaurant with your spouse. Nursing glasses of wine and waiting for the appetizers, she breaks a long silence extending back to the ride in the car.
"Honey," she ventures tentatively, "you could have saved yourself a lot of grief--and time--if you had just stopped and asked someone for directions to the hotel."
Here we go again. "We got here, didn't we? Where's the food, I'm starved!"
"Yeah, but only after going north on the expressway before realizing we needed to be heading south. We had to leave the city to turn around."
"We had a map," you snap. "The problem is you don't know how to read it."
"That man at the hot dog cart was trying to give me directions. At that point we were only four blocks from the hotel. Why didn't you listen to him?"
You empty the glass of wine with two gulps. "You got to see the waterfront, didn't you?"
"...and the zoo, the cathedral, the shopping and historic districts, that neighborhood of bombed-out buildings with rats running through the weeds, and the northern suburbs. Twice--once in each direction."
You refill your glass. "Everything was fine until you put us on the expressway going out of the city."
"You can't blame me for that. All those different-colored lines on the map crisscrossing in every direction. You might as well dump the guts of a computer in my lap and tell me to get it running. The fat blue line we were following on the map was taking us to the hotel right up 'til we got to the guy at the hot dog cart; I thought we should just stay on it."
"That's ridiculous. How can you even think like that? It's so...so IRRATIONAL!"
"'The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence,'" she responds smugly as if reading a text, "'rather it is a condition of it.'" She crowns the quote by citing its author, "Kierkegaard," as if the thinker somehow bestowed legitimacy upon her skewed logic.
But now you've got her. Summoning up your Penn liberal arts education, you counter triumphantly, "Nietsche said that, not Kierkegaard."
On the SAS home page you click on Academic Programs and then Academic Departments. From the list of departments that unscroll, you select Philosophy. On the philosophy Web page, you click on Web Resources, under Philosophy Links, and then select Guide to Philosophy on the Internet. This link presents you with a copious display of Internet resources. You could click on Philosophers, which would yield a long list of hyperlinks from Abelard to Zeno, but knowing that both Nietsche and Kierkegaard are the "fathers of existentialism," you choose Topics. That choice presents you with another set of hyperlinks--actualism to zombies--from which you select the topic Existentialism and Beyond.
Along with each existentialist philosopher on this Web site, there are links to Works and Quotes. Tasting victory, you click on Nietsche, then Quotes and confirm that your wife's quotation is in fact aphorism 332 from Human, All Too Human.
He shoots! He scores!
Following a victory dance, you pursue your spouse around the hotel room, gloating and dogging her with reminders of your superior and cultivated Penn-educated mind. Unperturbed, she sits down at the computer and clicks on Kierkegaard. "'How ironic,'" she reads from the screen of quotes, "'that it is by means of speech that a man can degrade himself below the level of a dumb creature.'"
Once again she snatches the laurels of victory from your brow. How does she do it?
Penn's Web site may not help to answer that question, but chances are it's a good place to start a search for information pertaining to just about anything else. Penn Web literally puts at your fingertips the resources of a great research university. As a point of departure for searching virtually any kind of information outside the University, Penn Web can serve as a kind of navigator too, orienting you in the best "direction" to find what you're looking for as you embark upon that vast ocean of information called the World Wide Web.
Penn's home page (http://www.upenn.edu) is your entry into both Penn Web and the World Wide Web. It offers four distinct ways to navigate University information: topical menus for those unfamiliar with Penn's organizational structure, penn a-z for those who have a pretty good idea of their destination site, a menu of sites of interest to particular Penn constituencies (alumni, faculty, staff, students), and a comprehensive campus-wide search utility. The home page includes online directories, campus maps, University-wide events calendars, a Web guide, information and news about Penn, and links to Penn jobs as well as online career planning resources.
The SAS alumni link on the home page of the School of Arts and Sciences (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/) connects to Web sites for the College Alumni Society, a calendar of SAS events and programs, Penn Arts & Sciences, PennLink (a University-wide service for all alumni), and more. By using the Divisions link, browsers will be led to information on lifelong learning opportunities at the College of General Studies. The link for Academic Resources will get you to, among other sites, Penn's library system (see below) and the University Archives (for historical questions about Penn). There is also a search utility for the SAS Web site.
Penn Web can also be a conduit to a wealth of medical information. OncoLink, for instance (http://oncolink.upenn.edu/), is a multimedia oncology information resource for health care professionals, and patients and their families. Maintained by the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, OncoLink disseminates a range of cancer-related information including facts concerning pertinent financial issues, up-to-date information for medical specialists, survival stories and emotional support, prevention data, information about new treatments, and more. The Internet site for Penn's Center for Bioethics (http://www.med.upenn.edu/bioethics/), which includes a "virtual library" of articles by Center faculty, explores many of the difficult ethical, legal, social, and public policy issues in health care. The site for the Nurse Midwifery program in the School of Nursing has a set of useful links (http://www.upenn.edu/nursing/grad/nm_resources.html) related to pregnancy, birth, and women's health.
When venturing out beyond Penn Web, starting out from Penn's academic departments is not the only way to orient yourself for surfing the Internet. Penn's libraries maintain a Web site (http://www.library.upenn.edu/) that is a virtual cornucopia of information resources and links. In general, most of the library's electronic databases are restricted to current Penn students, faculty, and staff, but there are a number of unrestricted resources that alumni can access. Particularly noteworthy is the Reference Shelf on the library home page, which links to online dictionaries, encyclopedias, and directories. The library home page has assembled an extensive collection of Internet and Penn links--from anthropology to veterinary medicine--under Web Resources by Subject. These links are like a cyber switchman that gets you pointed in the right direction to find what you are looking for on the Internet.
So, whether you can read a map or prefer to follow the links and figure it out for yourself, a bookmark in Penn Web provides a useful starting point for your Internet travels. If it doesn't help, you probably could use a marriage counselor.