Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Something to Blog About

Two nights ago, I was watching a Simpsons re-run with my fiance (it's one of the few tv shows we can agree on, along with Jeopardy, Cash Cab, and Dirty Jobs). It was a very touching episode that gave a reference book a brilliant moment in the sun. Homer has to do marketing research to try to get more business for the bowling alley so he can get a raise. He put on his reading glasses and is reading Advanced Marketing at the dining room table. That ends up in the trash as he moves on to Beginning Marketing. That also ends up in the trash. Then he is seen with the New American Dictionary, looking up the word "marketing."

I wanted to possibly use this clip in the instruction classroom. It would bea great introduction to reference books and getting students to start at the beginning. However, I hardly ever watch the show and couldn't think of how I would possibly figure out which episode it was.

Within seconds of starting my search, I found the exact episode title, season, summary, and list of cultural references on Wikipedia. It has its own entry for every single episode of The Simpsons through the summer of 1999 (the later DVD's are apparently not available yet). I am completely blown away, and this is a great way to illustrate how Wikipedia covers popular culture much better than any print encyclopedia... I highly doubt any pop culture encyclopedia has its own entries for every Simpsons character, episode, and location!

I looked up Gil Grissom, a character from CSI, and the entry includes the character's life story, first appearance, and have individual entries for episodes of that show as well... Print Preview shows it would take 9 pages to print this article. ER also has a list of episodes with summaries, but not individual entries.

I know Wikipedia was extensive, but I never realized how extensive. It has been incredibly helpful to me today, now I can get that season of The Simpsons on DVD if I want to show it in class, as well as finding new ways to procrastinate at work (which I hardly need)!

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