If you know your way around a mouse and a modem, you already
know that the Internet can be a very powerful and multi-faceted tool.
If, however, you're new to the vast online explosion, you may be quite
perplexed as to the terms, procedures, and protocols of this limitless
digital domain. As with any power tool, it's crucial to know the basics
before you tackle your designated project.
The purpose of this article is to start at the beginning and attempt
to explain in everyday, non-technical terms what the Internet is, how
it works, and what it can mean to you and your personal productivity.
It would take volumes to discuss every aspect, so we will try to focus
on the basics: getting started; basic terminology; how to get from here
to there (and back); and also touch on some minor troubleshooting. We
welcome and invite your input, feedback, questions, and suggestions.
It's called many things: the net, the web, the information super-highway,
the road to the future, and yes, even the road to ruin. Depending on
how you look at it, all are correct. While there are some down sides
to the internet, if used properly, it can be a positive resource for
all who choose to participate. The key element appears to be common
sense. You wouldn't spend 24 hours a day in say, a coffee shop, likewise,
it's not advised that you spend 24 hours a day in front of your computer
monitor perusing the plethora of online options. Similarly, most people
would walk right by a porn shop without venturing inside, so too the
rule applies online. Browse right on by, and you'll be fine. The same
goes for personal encounters. Would you believe everything a stranger
you met on the street told you about himself with out checking it out?
Of course not. Use the same (or stricter) standards with individuals
you might meet online. Okay, let's get started!
What exactly is the Internet, and is it the same as the World Wide Web?
The Internet is, simply, a network of networks. It began in
1969 as a way for the U.S. Department of Defense and research universities
to share information and also to protect that information in the case
of a nuclear attack (The thinking was that if a nuclear disaster occurred
at one location, the information would also be stored - and therefore
be safe - at another location). The Internet is separate from other
networks such as AOL, which is a privately owned network - but both
have the same access to web sites and online information. Michael Malazdrewicz
(An Internet Primer) explains it as the "third wave" of computing:
"The first wave was mainframe computers. One computer, many users.
The second wave was the personal computer. One computer, one user. The
Internet is the third wave since it allows a single user to access many
different computers. One user, many computers."
The World Wide Web (or "web") was developed in 1990, and is
actually a subset of the Internet. Simply put, the web consists of Internet
files that are specifically coded so they can be displayed graphically
on a computer screen (much like a magazine page, as opposed to pure
How do I get 'on' the net?
In order to connect (or "log-on") to the Internet, you must
- A computer with a modem (a modem - short for MOdulator/DEModulator
- is a device that coverts digital computer signals into a form that
can travel over phone lines, and vice-versa).
- A phone line.
- An Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Ionet,
Fullnet, AOL, CompuServe, EarthLink, etc. to provide the connection
(access) to the Internet.
- A browser (a browser is a software program - usually
free - that allows you to 'browse' or view the web pages. A browser,
such as MS Internet Explorer or Netscape merely 'translates' the code
into a readable form.
The simplest way to get connected is to call a service
provider and request service. This usually costs about $20.00 per month,
and each ISP can walk you through the simple process of installation.
Installation consists of inserting a CD-ROM into your drive and following
the on-screen instructions. Once you're 'connected', you're ready to
(pardon the overused cliché) surf the net!
Send your questions and/or comments to: email@example.com