eHow tells you how to do it

August 2000

Thank you to a reader for suggesting that we take a look at eHow. It's an extraordinarily rich site, telling you how to do just about anything imaginable, from changing a tire to resigning from a job to getting a date.

The idea behind that site is that you need to know how to do things and that often you get that information from friends, sales clerks, reference works, etc. And typically you solicit advice in regard to the steps, elements involved or items needed, tips, and warnings. eHow endeavors to do all of that for you--to give you a fast and easy way to accomplish a variety of real-world activities.

The site offers thousands of sets of instructions, all organized in 20 main categories, called Centers, and 120 subcategories. You can find out how to throw a knuckleball, negotiate a raise, choose a car stereo, and more. The main categories include automotive, computers & electronics, careers & education, college, family & relationships, finance & business, health, food, hobbies & games, holidays, home & garden, parents, personal care, pets, real estate, sports, travel, wedding, and more. That's quite a scope.

So let's take a look at automotive. Within each section you can simply type in what you want to do, such as "change a tire." There is also a top 10 list, which in the automotive category includes "eHows" on buying a care online, choosing a car stereo, and protecting your battery in winter. Other subcategories include selections of eHows on road trips, summer driving, and tinkering with your car.

In education you can learn how to go about buying school supplies, choosing a backpack, selecting college courses, or changing your major. Workplace instructions help you cope with getting laid off, fire an employee, resolve conflicts, and resign from a job.

The site gives good advice in regard to the latter: keep it positive and impersonal so that you don't burn bridges. This eHow, like all the others, contains the necessary steps, such as writing the letter of resignation. Each eHow also has tips, in this case telling you how much advance notice to give. And there are also warnings--things you should watch out for. You are invited to share your own tips, and you can read tips from other users. One user suggested that when you resign from a job it's a good idea to ask you employer what you should finish up before leaving and to offer to train your successor.

Each eHow contains links to related eHows, as well as related Internet links and opportunities to buy related items, such as books on the topic.

© 2000 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

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