Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wait a minute...what's a Shmoop?"

I just put some goodies upstairs, stickers and bookmarks, which all say "Shmoop" on them, so I thought I would be a good and responsible person and tell you what Shmoop is before you all come ask me why I'm making up words again.

I do that sometimes.

But I cannot take credit for the word "Shmoop," as I didn't coin it or anything.

Bored already? Then go explore.

Shmoop (go up and click on the link up there) is an online source for study guides and the like, covering literature, history, civics, biography, music, etc. It was created by the same people who create most of our cool new online resources, bored grad students and bored former grad students. It's amazing what creative people can come up with given enough boredom.

Boredom is an amazing force of creativity. How else would my brother and I have managed to fall into the river so many times? We have one right by our house--it isn't like we went looking for it or anything.

So say you have a history test tomorrow, and you just don't know why you need to study the French and Indian War, when it just doesn't make any sense that the French and Indians totally fought on the same side (mostly) and not against each other the way it sounds in the name of said war, and since the U.S.A. was totally not even a country back then, why do we have to study it for U.S. History?

Shmoop dumbs it down so that people like me, an avid hater of all things nonfiction, will actually read the entries all the way through. Then, they follow it up with this great little section entitled, "Why Should I Care?" When I first saw that section I laughed so hard I needed my inhaler*. I mean, that was my job all through high school, to convince my fellow classmates that learning about whatever we happened to be studying was worthwhile for whatever reason I could think of at the moment.

The glory of this site, the thing that makes it so much better than, say, Wikipedia (which I still love, but don't trust) is that actual people with actual degrees are writing what you find on Shmoop, so it isn't some unshaven illiterate basement dweller deciding what the entry for the French and Indian War should say, it's someone who bothered to study the French and Indian War in grad school, and though they may still be an unshaven basement-dweller, they are far from being illiterate.

So go, explore, maybe pick up a fancy sticker upstairs on the manga/graphic novel shelf, and hopefully you might end up liking your history, lit, or government class a little more than you did before you read this today.

*You should know that, even though I've had asthma for like four years, I still can't spell the word "inhaler" without the computer fixing it for me. That's a little sad, isn't it?

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