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Internet Basics

Table of Contents

"What's This Thing Called The Internet?!"

The Internet is a "network of networks" owned by no one and governed by the Internet community at large (although the Internet Society (ISOC) provides "leadership in addressing issues that confront the future of the Internet"). The Internet is a radically evolving entity. You should be aware that nearly as soon as something about the Internet is documented, it is out-of-date, but I hope that the following pages will help you build a foundation of how the Internet came to be, some of what the Internet is, and a few educated "guesstimates" of what the Internet may become.

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What is the Web?

Prior to 1992, researchers using the Internet were limited to text-based, command-line computer interactions to share data and information with one another. Tim Berners-Lee and other researchers at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, believed that there should—and could—be a way for that sharing and interactions to occur in a visual medium that would be easier to use. The result of that goal was the World Wide Web (also known as the Web or the WWW).

On the Web, individuals, businesses, government, education—nearly anyone with access to the Internet—can create a Web site. Home pages (also called Web pages) are created and placed on the Web site. Except in those cases where those pages or sites are protected by password or other restriction, all of the Web is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser.

Although there are numerous Web browsers, the two main participants in this field are Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Dominance in this field shifts primarily between these two based on their marketing efforts and users' personal preference.

Due to the popularity of the World Wide Web and the enormous publicity that it gets from both print and electronic media sources, many people now say "I'm on the Internet!" or ask about a site's "Internet address" —meaning the URL of the Web site. The Internet, that "network of networks," has many functions that transpire over it. The Web is but one application on the Internet. When someone sees a Web address—a Uniform Resource Locator (URL)—that address identifies a specific location, a specific computer, on a network, somewhere on the Internet.

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Network Connectivity

Sample diagram of a LANOften it is difficult to conceptualize the relationship of just how networks fit together (and sometimes just what a network is!)—and how your ow computer fits into the "greater scheme of things.

A network is two or more devices (usually computers) that are able to communicate with one another over some type of communication media such as telephone lines, satellites, microwave and cable TV. In order to communicate, the devices must be using the same protocol—the set of rules that both understand.

Generally office networks are Local Area Networks (LANs). LANs provide network services over a limited distance, usually within one department or building and have data lines that do not cross public thoroughfares. LANs are primarily one of two types: token ring or ethernet.

In token ring networks, each computer and peripheral (printer, scanner, fax machine, etc.) is attached in a "ring" configuration. The ring operates by passing an electronic token to each machine individually in sequence. When a machine has a task to perform, it accepts the token, causing the other machines to wait for their turn with the token. To prevent one busy machine from monopolizing the network resources, the amount of time that each machine can hold the token is limited. Thus, each machine performs a part of its tasks each time it accepts the token. Usually, the speed of the network is great enough that you, as a user, are hardly aware of your machine waiting to perform its tasks.

In ethernet networks, each computer and peripheral (printer, scanner, fax machine, etc.) is attached by a single connection to an ethernet "line." This is referred to as a bus configuration. You can think of the ethernet as a busy multi-lane highway. As each machine has tasks to perform, it sends the work over the connection where it becomes one "car" of several "cars" on the highway.

LANs are connected by an ethernet connection to a backbone. The backbone is limited to a length of about two miles and is capable of transmitting hundreds of millions tiny bits of information per second. The backbone provides connections for each LAN to the shared computing resources (such as the E-mail and Web servers), as well as connections to additional networks.

Connection lines are actual, physical cables connecting various installations. Most newer cables are laser optics and are capable of transmitting hundreds of millions of tiny bits of information per second. These lines are primarily owned and maintained by the various telecommunications companies such as your local and long distance telephone companies.

At home, you aren't connected directly to a network. The diagram below shows how your home computer sends a digital signal (your information) to your modem (MODulator-DEMulator). Your modem then converts the digital signal to an analog signal that can be transported over your regular phone lines to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP's modem converts the analog signal back into a digital signal and then sends your information wherever you want it to go. Once your information gets to the place you send it, then the process is reversed through the recipient's ISP, modems and lines.

Sample illustration of how a home computer attaches to the Internet

Simplified illustration of the Internet BackboneTo complicate things just a little, the Internet is a packet system. This means that your information gets divided into smaller packets. This allows the network lines to send each of the pieces through whichever line (see diagram on the right for a simplistic view of the major trunks—notice that there are a variety of segments that you could use to get from point to point) is the least congested. At the receiving end, once all the pieces arrive, the system puts them back together in the right order and delivers it to its intended receiver. All of this modulation, demodulation, conversion, packet separation and joining is a pretty complicated procedure. So the next time your information doesn't arrive—you will better understand why; and the next time it does arrive, you can marvel at all the things it went through to get it there so quickly (and correctly)!

Of course none of this is really as simple as these descriptions and diagrams indicate. In fact, if you show this to a "techie," they'll probably cringe. But it's close enough to give you an idea of how things work.

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Netiquette is "the rules of conduct as established in a networked society." It is important because each user on the Internet has access to many resources and many other individuals from many different world-wide locations. It provides (often unwritten) guidelines for communication and other network activities. Although there is no official Internet netiquette documentation, new users can (and should) review some of the available guides for netiquette—most of them are excellent sources of prescribed netiquette.

Here is an online one for you to review:

Network information may pass through many different systems on its way to its ultimate destination. Most of these various sites allow users to freely access their systems and use their resources. If the general network community does not act responsibly, the local users of a system may be inconvenienced, forcing the site to limit its outside access to specific times of day or to restrict outside use altogether. A good thing to keep in mind is that just because you can do something, does not imply that you should do it.

Forbidden Internet Activities

Certain activities are strictly forbidden on the Internet and may result in the loss of computing privileges. Other activities may be prohibited by specific networks. Forbidden activities include:

Electronic Communications—including E-mail, LISTSERV and other mailing lists, and newsgroups

Listed below are some points that you should consider when communicating electronically.

Appropriate subject lines. The subject line should correctly identify the contents/topic of the message. This helps your reader organize and prioritize his/her mail. Quite often, messages that are replied to or forwarded end up with subject lines that are not relevant to the topic being discussed as the topic shifts throughout the course of the conversation.

One message; one topic. When messages contain multiple topics, it makes it more difficult to prioritize and process the message. If the message, for example, contains, multiple requests for action, then the entire message must be kept by the reader until all of the components are addressed (or worse, it will be discarded and some tasks overlooked).

"Sign" your E-mail. Very often usernames don't look anything like real names. As a courtesy to your readers, include your "signature" (at least your first name) at the bottom of every message. If your message is likely to be read by a large number of people or those who don't know you very well, it is important to "sign" your full name.

Signature block. Including a complete identification block at the end of messages is very important for business communications where the recipient may need your title, company name and/or phone number in addition to your name. Even though it may seem redundant, be sure to also include your complete E-mail address since many mail applications hide that type of information. The footer should not exceed more than 4 lines.

Message length. While electronic communications are becoming more prevalent as professional communication, it is still important to consider electronic messages more like memos rather than letters. Keep paragraphs and messages short and to the point.

Format messages. Some E-mail applications can now format the text like word processors do or by using HTML. However, a large number still rely on text-only—which greatly limits the formatting that you have available to apply. You may be tempted to type in all caps in order to emphasize something, but remember that CAPITALIZING ALL WORDS IS CONSTRUED AS SHOUTING!!! in the world of the Internet. *Asterisks* or _underlines_ enclosing a word may be used to emphasize a point rather than all caps.

Forward messages. E-mail is easily forwarded and re-sent. You should always seek and obtain permission from the original author before forwarding personal E-mail to anyone for any reason. That said, keep in mind that that permission seldom is sought. Never send any E-mail message that you would not mind seeing on the evening news or on your boss's monitor.

Find your "voice." Electronic communications are devoid of the body language, tone and inflection that help listeners understand our intent during face-to-face conversations. You should be very careful when using sarcasm and humor in electronic communications since your joke may be viewed as criticism.

Cultural differences. As the Internet minimizes physical and geographical boundaries, it becomes even more important to be cognizant of cultural differences when communicating across the "transparent boundaries" of networks. If your audience is (or may be) composed of members of cultures other than your own, you need to careful of the words and phrases you use. Remember that even across the United States there is a huge difference in the way that people speak, both the mannerisms and the words used—the difference intensifies if we then are also communicating across nationalities, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds.

"Corporate ladder." In this day and age when it seems that everyone has an E-mail address, it is important that you don't "jump over the head" of your superiors. It may be easy to write to your boss's boss in an effort to resolve differences, or to get or share information, but you should always be aware of the protocols of your own environment. When in doubt, save your message and think about it a while before you send it off (and remember the point above about seeing your words on the evening news).

"re: re: re: re: re:" As messages are replied to, many E-mail applications add an "re:" to the subject line, indicating that the the message is a reply to an original message. Consider deleting each extra "re:" so that the subject line remains pertinent and easily read (unless you just want to "play a game" and see how many the maximum might be!). Also consider including only that part of a post that is directly applicable to your reply—just enough to jog the reader's memory about the topic—so that the messages don't become unbearably long and tedious.

"Flames." Don't be hasty in replying to E-mail that irritates or angers you—that's how flame wars get started. Write your reply, then hold it for a day and re-read it before sending it, or have a neutral person read the message before you send it (and then heed the advice if the individual recommends re-writing or "toning down" the language or tone of the message!).

Discussion lists. When you subscribe to or join a list, most often you are sent a confirmation letter for reference. Be sure to save the message because it often provides instructions on participating on the list, as well as removing yourself from the list.

Other Network Services

Telnet and ftp are two services that were extremely popular and frequently used prior to the advent of the WWW. While Telnet is still used frequently by those who have access to multiple, geographically diverse computing systems and ftp is used by individuals between those systems, anonymous ftp has, for the most part, been "moved" to the Web.

Telnet/Remote Login

Anonymous ftp

Application Sharing

There is a multitude of software available via the Internet, and particularly the Web. There are generally three types of software available: for purchase, freeware, and shareware. For purchase is just that—software that may be purchased and downloaded, then installed by the user at home or at the office. Freeware is software that the developer has created and then made available free of charge to anyone who wants to download, install, and use it. Shareware is software created and made available for a small price, generally able to be downloaded, installed, and used for a period of time without charge, or as a "crippled" or partially functional version of the paid version.

If a shareware program is beneficial to you and you continue to use it, pay any registration fee that was requested by the developer; software fees enable developers to continue creating and sharing applications.

If you doubt the legitimacy of applications you find (you know the old adage—if it seems to good to be true...it probably is), don't use them; there have been occasions in which non-licensed software has found its way onto ftp or Web archives (and be wary—some of these unauthorize applications have had viruses placed in them!).

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About E-mail, Web & Computer Addresses

E-mail is addressed to a specific person at a specific address in this form: user@address. Using the Internet addressing form, John Smith's address might be: jsmith@posie.university.edu, where jsmith is the John's user name, posie is the specific machine where John receives his E-mail, and university.edu is the host or educational institution.

In the United Kingdom, JANET (Joint Academic NETwork) is the equivalent of the Internet. Within that network, addresses appear to be "written backwards." In this scenario, John's address would appear: jsmith@university.edu.posie.

Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are the addresses for Web sites. URLs are written as: http://www.university.edu/~jsmith/class/file.html

HINT: if you are provided a URL that returns a "page not found" or other error when you type it into the Web browser, delete sections of the URL from right to left, from / to /. For example, if the above URL didn't work, I would try: http://www.university.edu/~jsmith/class/ then http://www.university.edu/~jsmith/ then http://www.university.edu/ very often you can get to a spot where you can see a page and perhaps locate the page that was moved or renamed.

Computers also have addresses. Although most computers are now identified with a name (such as posie or www, in the examples above), a computer's "real" address is the unique four-part IP (Internet Protocol) number. IP numbers are written in the form of The first part (e.g., 134.68) identifies the institution. The middle part (e.g., 174) identifies the sub-net, or specific location within the institution. The final part (e.g., 68) identifies the specific computer.

As a way to identify computers and networks in words rather than/in addition to IP addresses, domain names were established. The image below shows the original domains:

Illustration of a map indicating primary domain names and locations

There are strict guidelines as to which domain names are available to different types of institutions and entities. For example, .mil domains are used only by U.S. military agencies; .gov domains are used only by U.S. government agencies, and .edu domains are used only by U.S. four-year colleges and universities. Additionally, with the growth of the Internet, most of the available domain names have been used. For these reasons, several new domains were opened in 2000 and 2001 including .biz (business), .vc (venture capital), and .tv (television).

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The Ten Commandants for Computer Ethics

from the Computer Ethics Institute

  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
  3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's files.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  6. Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid.
  7. Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization.
  8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
  9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write.
  10. Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration and respect.

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Smileys (Emoticons)

Because we can't hear voice inflection and tone in electronic communications, it can be difficult to correctly interpret sarcasm, laughter, sadness, or anger. Similarly, we don't have benefit of body language to help us interpret communications. Network users have developed the smiley to assist in this nonverbal communication. Listed below are some examples of the more standard (and the more bizarre) smileys that have evolved. Check out more smileys.

:-)   Happy (basic) smiley; used to portray a happy statement.
;-)   Winking smiley; a "don't flame me for what I just said" smiley.
:-(   Frowning/sad smiley.
%-)   User has been staring at a computer screen too long.
8-)   User is wearing sunglasses.
B:-)   User is wearing sunglasses on head.
:-{)   User has a mustache.
{:-)   User wears a toupee.
}:-(   User wearing toupee in an updraft.
:-@   User is screaming.
:-P   Nyahhhh!
:-D   User is laughing (at you!)
:-X   User's lips are sealed.
:-o   Uh oh!
[:-)   User is wearing a walkman.
<:-I   User is a dunce.
    The invisible smiley ;-)
X-(   User just died.
}:>#})   Updrafted bushy-mustached pointy nosed smiley with a double-chin. (seldom used... :-)

Japanese smiley trivia:

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Most of us find ourselves hurrying through electronic correspondence and the 'Net community is no exception. In recognition of that, here are some of the more common abbreviations that have found their way into standard electronic correspondence.

BTW   By The Way
FYI   For Your Information
IMHO   In My Humble Opinion
TIA   Thanks, In Advance (offered after posting a question to a group)
LOL   Laughing OutLoud
ROFL   Roll On Floor Laughing

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General Network Guides


Estrada, Susan. Connecting to the Internet: A Buyer's Guide.

Kehoe, Brendan P. Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's Guide.

Krol, Ed. The Whole Internet: User's Guide & Catalog, academic edition.

Krol, Ed & Connor-Sax, Kiersten. The Whole Internet: The Next Generation.

Lawley, Elizabeth L., Summerhill, Craig. Internet Primer for Information Professionals: A Basic Guide to Internet Networking Technology.

LaQuey, Tracy L., ed. Users' Directory of Computer Networks.

Tennant, Roy, et al. Crossing the Internet Threshold: an Instructional Handbook.

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Fun Things To Do On The Net

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Viruses are programs written and distributed with the intent to cause harm to computers or data (and if you're reading through this tutorial from top to bottom, you'll remember that is one of the forbidden Internet activities!) Although most creators initially create and distribute the virus intentionally, viruses are then usually spread by unwary users through networks or by sharing infected diskettes or software programs. This is why networks are particularly vulnerable because most of the applications are shared by many users. As the Internet and the ease of transferring data has exponentially grown over the last few years, the vulnerability to virus infection has grown for all of us.

There are many types of attacks against your computing resources. You may hear of viruses, logic bombs, trojan horses, and worms. Each has a slightly different official definition and characteristics, but suffice it to say that each of them are malicious and should be avoided at all costs through diligence and careful computing.

Another type, the macro virus, take advantage of "mini programs" that many applications can run—macros. Macros are written in order to automate routine tasks that a user performs. Because macros are so prevalent and the applications (such as word processed documents or spreadsheets) that use macros are so widely used, macro viruses can be particularly insidious. While it was once correct to say that you could not catch a computer virus through E-mail, with the increasing use of attachments and the number of applications that can interpret macros, the macro viruses cause this statement to no longer be correct. To be safe, you should always set your application options to check for macro viruses and make sure that your virus detection/cleaning software is up-to-date.

Even viruses that are considered nuisance viruses, meaning that they display statements or graphics when you least expect them, are still problematic since they disrupt your computing activities and may be spread through unwary people to other systems. Fortunately, these types of viruses do little harm other than disrupt your work. Other types (unfortunately, increasingly common), however, place themselves in critical portions of your disk, such as the file allocation table, the partition time or the boot sector. These viruses effectively destroy your data.

Although very few systems are completely immune from virus infection, some simple precautions will make you far less susceptible of becoming infected with a computer virus:

Almost as annoying as viruses themselves are those notices from well-meaning individuals who warn you of impending viruses. In a majority of cases, those warnings are hoaxes and should be ignored. One clue that a notice may be warning of a hoax, are those messages that tell you to "spread the news to everyone you know!" I would encourage you to always check a reputable site that lists known Internet hoaxes prior to passing along a virus warning (and also encourage you to tell the friends who sent you the message about these hoax listings!).

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Copyright Issues

A particularly important consideration when using the Internet is copyright. It is important to remember that the intellectual property rights associated with creative works found on the Net—such as captivating graphics and stimulating E-mail messages, not to mention everything else—generally—belong to the creator(s) [there are some exceptions such as work-for-hire that go beyond the scope of this tutorial].

Just because the Internet has, in most instances, eased information retrieval does not mean that you may freely use the content without permission. An oft-cited misconception is that as long as you give proper credit, your use of something is O.K. While you do have a right of fair use for many educational pursuits, you must also realize that an educational purpose alone does not make the use "fair." Moreover, posting materials on the Internet for the world to see may go far beyond your likely objective of serving education. You are responsible for learning about copyright, for understanding fair use, and for securing permissions when required.

A particularly useful document is the Fair Use Checklist. The checklist allows you to consider the reasons you want to use a copyrighted work and whether or not that use would constitute "fair use" as defined by the Copyright law. I strongly encourage you to print, complete, and retain a checklist for each copyrighted work that you want to use in your projects.

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Online Research Resources

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Internet History Highlights

Detailed history information can be found at Hobbes' Internet Timeline

1969 ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency - later Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - Network) commissioned by U.S. Department of Defense for research into networking; designed to demonstrate the feasibility of building networks of computers dispersed over a wide area.
ARPANET consists of 4 hosts.
1971 23 connected hosts.
1972 ARPANET publicly demonstrated in Washington D.C.; connected about 45 universities and research facilities (each with military affiliations).
1973 First international connections by ARPANET to England via Norway.
ARPA study indicates that 75% of all ARPANET traffic is E-mail.
1976 Queen Elizabeth of England sends first E-mail.
1977 THEORYNET created at University of Wisconsin providing E-mail to over 100 researchers in computer science.
USENET established.
1979 Suggestion made by Kevin MacKenzie to add emotion to text-based E-mail messages by using symbols such as -) (MacKenzie was flamed for making the suggestion!)
1981 BITNET (Because It's Time NETwork) established, requiring participants to only need electronic mail capabilities rather than additional software.
A new host is added about every 20 days.
1982 Term Internet first used.
1983 Desktop workstations start being used, particularly at Berkley.
1984 Domain Name Server (DNS) introduced, no longer requiring users to know exact path (and IP addresses) to other systems.
Number of hosts breaks 1,000.
1985 purdue.edu is one of first 12 registered domain names.
1986 NSFNET (backbone speed: 56Kbps) created with the aid of NASA and DOE; five super-computing centers provided high-computing power for all.
1987 National Science Foundation signs a cooperative agreement to manage the Internet backbone with IBM, MCI and Merit Network, Inc.
Number of hosts breaks 10,000.
1988 The worm created by Robert Morris worm burrows through the 'Net creating millions of dollars of expense to many academic institutions throughout the United States to restore violated systems; affects approximately 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts on the Internet.
CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) is formed to address security issues such as the worm.
1989 Number of hosts breaks 100,000.
IUPUI connects to the Internet.
1990 ARPANET is disbanded.
First relay between a commercial electronic mail carrier (MCI Mail) and the Internet.
1991 Gopher released by University of Minnesota, providing a point-and-click way of navigating files on the Internet.
World-Wide Web created by Tim Berners-Lee is released by CERN.
WAIS released by Thinking Machines Corporation.
Internet backbone upgraded to T3 (44.736 Mbps)
1992 Internet links more 17,000 networks in 33 countries.
Number of hosts breaks 1,000,000.
Term "surfing the Internet" is coined.
1993 InterNIC created to provide specific Internet services: directory and database services, registration services, information services.
White House comes online.
Number of hosts breaks 2,000,000.
Over 100 countries are connected to the Internet.
Mosaic released; Web growth is 341,634% annual growth rate!
1994 Commercial users outnumber academic users two to one.
Number of hosts breaks 3,000,000.
Netscape is released.
Pizza Hut online pizza ordering becomes available.
10,000 Web sites online.
1995 NSFNet reverts to a research network and no longer supports the Internet backbone.
Venture capital firms invest $47 million in Internet companies in the first quarter 1995.
For the month of July, estimated of Internet users is 20-30 million.
A $50 annual fee is imposed for registration of domain names.
1996 BITNET access shut off at IUPUI.
MCI upgrades Internet backbone, bringing speed from 155 Mbps to 622 Mbps.
Approximately 40 million people are connected to the Internet.
1997 71,618 discussion mailing lists registered at Liszt, a mailing list directory.
Web sites number over 1 million.
1998 Hobbes' Internet Timeline released.
Web size is estimated between 275-320 MILLION pages in the first quarter.
1999 First Internet Bank of Indiana becomes first full-service bank available on the Internet.
MCI/WorldCom begins upgrading Internet backbone to 2.5 Gbps speed.
The business.com domain is sold for $7.5 million (purchased in 1997 for $150,000).
2000 Web size estimated at 1 billion indexable pages.
Number of Web sites break 25 million.
2001 Forwarding E-mail becomes illegal in Australia, seen as an infringement of personal copyright.

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Internet Glossary

A means of designating a specific machine (and, in the case of electronic mail, a specific user on a network); may include special symbols depending on the network being utilized: ! (called a "bang" - used in UUCP addresses); % (used as additional routing information), and @ (to denote the computer name where the user receives E-mail).
A person's E-mail address: user@somewhere.domain
A computer's name: somewhere.domain or (its IP address).
A Web address (the Uniform Resource Locator): http://somewhere.domain/path/file.html

Anonymous ftp
Accessing a remote host as a guest for the purpose of transferring copies of files.

Software written to access an index of ftp archive sites; tracks over 1,000 sites, storing over a million files.

A computer system that stores files for searching and distribution.

The first network in the Internet.

Primary connectivity mechanism of a hierarchical distributed system; ensures that all systems connected to an intermediate system on the backbone may be connected to one another.

BITNET (Because It's Time Network)
A network organized to link academic research sites so that researchers could share information.

bps (bits-per-second)
Measurement of how fast something moves across a network. For example, a 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second.

A transmission medium capable of supporting a wide range of frequencies (e.g., data, video, voice).

A software application that allows access to the World Wide Web and other Internet resources.

CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire)
Now named European Laboratory for Particle Physics; created the World Wide Web.

Founded by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) in 1988 to support cooperative academic programs among the Midwest's major research institutions; considered to link the academic counterpart to the Big Ten Athletic Conference; funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation and is one component of the NSFNet infrastructure; connected to the NSFNet backbone at the University of Michigan, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; connects academic, research, nonprofit, and commercial organizations in a seven-state region (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio); approximately 250 organizations are connected directly by CICNet or the regional state networks which are, in turn, connected to CICNet.

Any host that requests the services of another computer system or process.

A small piece of information sent by a Web browser and stored on a local computer, to help the browser recognize the client workstation the next time the site is visited from that computer.

A hierarchical scheme for indicating logical and sometimes geographical venue of a system within a network. Top-level Internet domains in the U.S. indicate the type of organization: edu - educational; gov - governmental; net - gateways and other administrative hosts for a network; mil - military; com - commercial; org - private organizations). Domains outside the United States are generally country codes: e.g. au, jp, uk

Domain Name Server
A distributed name/address database used on the Internet so that users do not have to use IP numbers.

Electronic Mail (E-mail)
A tool used for communicating and exchanging information via local and remote computer systems over various types of networks.

A commonly used local area network specification where computers share the same data line.

Network links to remote users or sites that are, in effect, an extension of an organization or enterprise's intranet.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
A file containing frequently asked questions and their answers about a particular subject.

A biting, often rude, hastily composed E-mail message; usually about a particular person or the opinions expressed by that person.

Forum, see mailing list.

ftp (file transfer protocol)
Allows the copying of files from one computer to another.

NOT the computer manufacturing company; a special-purpose computer that links two or more dissimilar devices and routes data from one network to another.

gif (Graphics Interchange Format)
An image compression type, one of the two primary types of image formats viewable on the Web (the other type is .jpg).

A distributed information service that makes available collections of data in a hierarchical menu-driven system; generally containing textual material; created by the University of Minnesota.

Positive: someone who is enamored of and very good at working on and around computers. Negative: someone who breaks into other computers and systems.

Home page
A page on a Web site, traditionally the main or first page the sites expects the user to access.

A computer that provides centralized services, connected to a network and capable of communicating with other network devices; also known as a node.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
The coding language used with Web pages to create the formatting and appearance of the page.

An explorer of the Internet.

internet (lower case i)
Two or more connected networks.

Internet (upper case I)
An international network of networks using a standard transmission protocol; began as a single United States Department of Defense network; provides information services to universities, corporations, research institutions, governments, and military installations around the world.

Internet Explorer
A graphical way to explore the World Wide Web using Windows-like features and the mouse; created by Microsoft.

A network of two or more devices used by an organization as a private internet.

InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center)
A collaborative effort of three organizations established to provide network information services to the Internet community.

An internal network within an organization or enterprise, for the benefit and use of that entity sharing data internally.

IP (Internet Protocol)
A unique number (in the form of assigned to each host, identifying that computer to all other computers on a network; indicates the domain (e.g. 134.68), the sub-net (e.g. 57) and the specific machine (e.g. 12).

ISP (Internet Service Provider)
An organization that provides, usually for a fee, access to the Internet; may also include additional services such as Web hosting and electronic mail services.

jpg (Joint Photographic Experts Group format)
An image compression type, one of the two primary types of image formats viewable on the Web (the other type is .gif).

JUGHEAD (Jonzy's Universal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation And Display)
A tool for getting menu information from various gopher servers.

Line Speeds
56k leased lines - dedicated lines leased from major telecommunications companies, providing data connections at speeds of 56 kilobits-per-second.
T1 lines - lines providing data connections at speeds of one million bits-per-second; equivalent to 24 64kps circuits.
T3 lines - special backbone lines, providing data connections at speeds of 45 million bits-per-second; equivalent to 28 T1 lines.

Proprietary software that manages membership lists, routes E-mail messages to subscribers of the list, and provides access to archives of messages of mailing lists; created by L-Soft.

Local Area Network (LAN)
Links computers over a limited distance, usually within one department or building; lines do not cross public thoroughfares.

The habit of reading mailing lists or newsgroups but never participating in the discussions.

A text-based browser for the World Wide Web.

Mailing List
A group dedicated to specific topics and subscribed to by people interested in like subjects; often (mistakenly) referred to by the proprietary name: LISTSERV.

A measurement of bandwidth.

A measurement of data storage; about a million bytes; technically 1024 kilobytes.

Modem (MOdulator DEModulator)
A device that converts digital (computer) signals into a form that can be transmitted over analog (telephone) communications lines and vice versa.

A graphical way to explore the World Wide Web using Windows-like features and the mouse; created by the NCSA; a precursor to Netscape.

NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications)
Developer of Mosaic.

National Science Foundation Network (NSFNet)
Collection of local, regional, and mid-level networks in the United States tied together by a high-speed backbone; accesses supercomputers across the United States; until 1993 supported the Internet backbone; now primarily a research network.

The rules of conduct as established in a networked society.

The linking of two or more devices (including computers) so they can share peripherals (such as printers and faxes) and software, and transfer data over a communication medium.

A graphical way to explore the World Wide Web using Windows-like features and the mouse; created by Netscape Communications Corp.

An electronic communication media characterized by threaded discussions conducted via postings to the group; similar in nature to a mailing list.

Node, see host.

A secret series of letters and/or numbers that, when combined, make up your "key" for accessing your computer account.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
Allows a computer to emulate a TCP/IP (network) connection, temporarily assigning the machine a unique IP number; allows non-networked computers to use client software such as web browsers.

A set of rules that govern how devices on a network exchange data.

Remote Logon, see telnet.

RFC (Request For Comments)
Documents created to announce official proposals regarding Internet policies and procedures, and to solicit responses to those proposals.

A crude response via E-mail indicating that the user should have read the manual rather than asking a question; NEVER used in polite society.

A networked computer that provides services to users or clients; may be focused on special services; e.g., mail server; Gopher server; Web server.

The act of flooding an E-mail service or other server with mass mailing of messages.

T1 Line
A leased line connection that carries information at approximately 1.5 million bits-per-second.

T3 Line
A leased line connection that carries information at approximately 44.7 million bits-per-second.

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)
Defines the routes that the various pieces of data travel over the Internet.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol(TCP/IP)
The suite of communications protocols which govern Internet operations.

An Internet service providing connection to a remote computer and the ability to run programs remotely.

Token Ring
A formerly commonly used local area network type where computers access the same data line one at a time.

Bulletinboard-like network featuring thousands of newsgroups.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
A method of specifying addresses on the World Wide Web in the form of: http://www.iupui.edu/it/copyinfo/Graphics/logo.gif; specifies the protocol (http://), the host (www.iupui.edu), the path (it/copyinfo/Graphics) and the specific file (logo.gif) to be accessed.

UserID (or Username)
Identifies both you and a specific storage area assigned to you on a server; generally the same as your personal "mailbox" for electronic mail.

VERONICA (Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Netwide Index to Computerized Archives)
A search tool for gopherspace; allows keyword searches of gopher directories and files.

A program written and distributed via diskettes or networks to cause harm to computers or data; other types of "mal-ware" (malicious software) include trojan horses and worms.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
Links computers over wide distances, linking throughout cities, states, or countries.

World Wide Web (WWW or W3 or Web)
An Internet-based information source that allows you to easily explore related topics using hypertext.

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