Chapter 2: The Internet and World Wide Web
- Discuss how the Internet works
- Understand ways to access the Internet
- Identify a URL
- Search for information on the Web
- Describe the types of Web pages
- Recognize how Web pages use graphics, animation, audio, video, and virtual reality
- Define Webcasting
- Describe the uses of electronic commerce (e-commerce)
- Explain how e-mail, FTP, newsgroups and message boards, mailing lists, chat rooms, and instant messaging work
- Identify the rules of netiquette
This chapter introduces one of the most significant innovations of the past half century – the Internet. The Internet is defined, and the history of the Internet is detailed. You discover how the Internet works and learn about Internet service providers and online services, connecting to the Internet, how data travels the Internet, and Internet addresses. The World Wide Web, search engines, and multimedia on the Web are explained. You become familiar with Webcasting, electronic commerce, Web publishing, and other Internet services including e-mail, FTP, Telnet, newsgroups, mailing lists, chat rooms, and instant messaging. Finally, netiquette, the Internet code of acceptable behavior by users, is described.
1 | Discuss How The Internet Works
The Internet is a worldwide collection of networks that links millions of businesses, government offices, educational institutions, and individuals. Data is transferred over the Internet using servers, which are computers that manage network resources and provide centralized storage areas, and clients, which are computers that can access the contents of the storage areas. The data travels over communications lines. Each computer or device on a communications line has a numeric address called an IP (Internet protocol) address, the text version of which is called a domain name. Every time you specify a domain name, a DNS (domain name system) server translates the domain name into its associated IP address, so data can route to the correct computer.
2 | Understand Ways To Access The Internet
You can access the Internet through an Internet service provider, an online service provider, or a wireless service provider. An Internet service provider (ISP) provides temporary Internet connections to individuals and companies. An online service provider (OSP) also supplies Internet access, in addition to a variety of special content and services. A wireless service provider (WSP) provides wireless Internet access to users with wireless modems or Web-enabled handheld computers or devices.
Employees and students often connect to the Internet through a business or school network that connects to a service provider. For home or small business users, dial-up access provides an easy and inexpensive way to connect to the Internet. With dial-up access, you use a computer, a modem, and a regular telephone line to dial into an ISP or OSP. Some home and small business users opt for newer, high-speed technologies. DSL (digital subscriber line) provides high-speed connections over a regular copper telephone line. A cable modem provides high-speed Internet connections through a cable television network.
3 | Identify A URL
The most widely used service on the Internet is the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web (WWW or Web) consists of a worldwide collection of electronic documents called Web pages. A browser is a software program used to access and view Web pages. Each Web page has a unique address, called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), that tells a browser where to locate the Web page. A URL consists of a protocol, domain name, and sometimes the path to a specific Web page or location on a Web page. Most URLs begin with http://, which stands for hypertext transfer protocol, the communications standard that enables pages to transfer on the Web.
4 | Search For Information On The Web
A search engine is a software program you can use to find Web sites, Web pages, and Internet files. To find a Web page or pages, you enter a relevant word or phrase, called search text or keywords, in the search engine’s text box. Many search engines then use a program called a spider to read pages on Web sites and create a list of pages that contain the keywords. Any Web page that is listed as the result of the search is called a hit. Each hit is a link that can be clicked to display the associated Web site or Web page.
5 | Describe The Types Of Web Pages
There are six basic types of Web pages. An advocacy Web page contains content that describes a cause, opinion, or idea. A business/marketing Web page contains content that promotes or sells products or services. An informational Web page contains factual information. A news Web page contains newsworthy material including stories and articles relating to current events, life, money, sports, and the weather. A portal Web page offers a variety of Internet services from a single, convenient location. A personal Web page is maintained by a private individual who normally is not associated with any organization.
6 | Recognize How Web Pages Use Graphics, Animation, Audio, Video, And Virtual Reality
Many exciting Web pages use multimedia. Multimedia refers to any application that integrates text with one of the following elements: graphics, sound, video, virtual reality, or other media elements.
A graphic is a digital representation of information such as a drawing, chart, or photograph. Two common file formats for graphical images on the Web are JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), which use compression techniques to reduce the size of graphics files and thus speed downloading.
Animation is the appearance of motion created by displaying a series of still images in rapid sequence. One popular type of animation, called an animated GIF, uses computer animation and graphics software to combine several images into a single GIF file.
Audio is music, speech, or any other sound. A common format for audio files on the Web is MP3, a popular technology that compresses audio. More advanced Web audio applications use streaming audio, which transfers audio data in a continuous and even flow, allowing users to listen to the sound as it downloads. Video consists of full-motion images that are played back at various speeds. Video files often are quite large in size. The Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) defines a popular video compression standard. Streaming video allows you to view longer or live video images as they are downloaded.
Virtual reality (VR) is the use of computers to simulate a real or imagined environment that appears as a three-dimensional (3-D) space. A VR world is an entire 3-D site that contains infinite space and depth.
7 | Define Webcasting
Pull technology is a method of obtaining information that relies on a client such as your computer to request a Web page from a server. On the other hand, Webcasting, also called push technology, is a method of obtaining information in which a server automatically downloads content to your computer at regular intervals or whenever updates are made to the site. Webcasting saves time by delivering information at regular intervals and allows users to view Web content when they are offline, that is, when they are not connected to the Internet.
8 | Describe The Uses Of Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce)
Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is a financial business transaction that occurs over an electronic network such as the Internet. Today, there are three types of e-commerce. Business to consumer (B-to-B or B2C) e-commerce consists of the sale of goods to the general public. Customers visit an online business through an electronic storefront, which contains descriptions, graphics, and a shopping cart that allows customers to collect their purchases. Consumer to consumer (C-to-C or C2C) e-commerce occurs when one consumer sells directly to another. An online auction is an example of consumer to consumer e-commerce. Business to business (B-to-B or B2B) e-commerce, which is the most prevalent type of e-commerce, takes place between businesses, with businesses typically providing services to other businesses.
9 | Explain How E-Mail, FTP, Newsgroups And Message Boards, Mailing Lists, Chat Rooms, And Instant Messaging Work
A variety of services are used widely on the Internet, including e-mail, FTP, newsgroups and message boards, mailing lists, chat rooms, and instant messaging. E-mail (electronic mail) is the transmission of messages and files via a computer network. You use an e-mail program to create, send, receive, forward, store, print, and delete messages. To receive messages, you need an e-mail address, which is a combination of a username and a domain name that identifies a user.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is an Internet standard that allows you to upload and download files with other computers on the Internet. An FTP server is a computer that allows you to use FTP to upload files to, and download files from, an FTP site. With anonymous FTP, anyone can transfer some, if not all, available files. A newsgroup is an online area in which users conduct written discussions about a particular subject. The computer that stores and distributes newsgroup messages is called a news server. You use a program called a newsreader to access a newsgroup, read previously entered messages (called articles), and add (post) messages of your own.
A thread consists of the original article and all subsequent related replies. In a moderated newsgroup, a moderator reviews articles and posts them, if appropriate. A message board is a popular Web-based type of discussion group that does not require a newsreader and typically is easier to use than a newsgroup. A mailing list is a group of e-mail names and addresses given a single name. To add your e-mail name and address to a mailing list you subscribe to it; to remove your name, you unsubscribe.
A chat is real-time (meaning everyone involved in the chat is online at the same time) typed conversation that takes place on a computer. A location on an Internet server that permits users to chat is called a chat room. Some chat rooms support voice chats and video chats, where you can hear or see others and they can hear or see you as you chat. A chat client is a program on your computer that allows you to connect to a chat server and start a chat session. Instant messaging (IM) is a real-time Internet communications service that notifies you when one or more people are online and then allows you to exchange messages or join a private chat room.
10 | Identify The Rules Of Netiquette
Netiquette, which is short for Internet etiquette, is the code of acceptable behaviors users should follow while on the Internet. Rules for e-mail, newsgroups, and chat rooms include:
- Keep messages brief and use proper grammar and spelling.
- Be careful when using sarcasm and humor.
- Be polite and avoid offensive language.
- Avoid sending flames (abusive messages) and spam (unsolicited junk mail).
- Do not use all capital letters, which is the equivalent of SHOUTING!
- Use emoticons (such as 🙂 for smile) to express emotion.
- Use abbreviations (such as BTW for by the way) for popular phrases.
- Clearly identify a spoiler, which is a message that reveals a solution to a game or an ending to a movie or program.
- Read the FAQ (frequently asked questions) document.
- Do not assume all material is accurate or up-to-date.
- Never read someone’s private e-mail.
Expand Your Knowledge
- The Internet
- Accessing the Internet
- Searching the Web
- Types of Web Pages
- How Web Pages Use Multimedia
- Web Publishing
- Internet Services
Here you will find additional information that will expand and enhance your knowledge beyond that contained in your textbook. Compare this information to what may be provided in a traditional classroom by your instructor or peers.
1| The Internet
The Internet has had a profound affect on the world of computers. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates claims, “The Internet is pervasive in everything we’re doing.” The Internet also has assumed an increasing prominence in the world at large. Today, the letters “www” seem an omnipresent part of advertisements on buses, billboards, and magazines.
The Internet, as it is known today, was born in 1983 when ARPANET was split into two interconnected networks: ARPANET and MILNET. The size of the Internet doubled when NSFnet joined the Internet in 1986.
The Internet has proven to be a reliable means of transmitting data. Occasionally, however, transmission problems do occur. For 30 minutes in the spring of 1995, all of the traffic destined for MIT was sent through a small wire in Florida, a situation described as equivalent to routing all of the flights bound for O’Hare to a driveway.
2 | Accessing the Internet
National ISPs include AT&T, Earthlink, and WorldCom. Two popular OSPs are America Online (AOL) and the Microsoft Network (MSN). Some online services supply specific types of information. For example, Dow Jones provides financial and business news, and Imagination offers games and entertainment. WSPs include GoAmerica Communications, OmniSky, and SprintPCS. The role of WSP is expected to grow. Industry analysts predict that by 2003, more than 60 million people will use wireless Web-enabled devices to connect to the Internet. The CEO of Amazon.com goes even farther, projecting that in 10 years all Internet connections be wireless.
Although most ISPs charge a standard fee for dial-up access, to attract users (who view advertisements on an ISP’s home page) some ISPs now are providing free service. Following this lead, a California-based DSL recently advertised free, high-speed Internet access (a service that usually costs $50 a month) to users who agree to ads aimed at their demographic group.
3 | URLs
On a Web page, a link is a built-in connection to another related Web page or part of a Web page. A link can be a word, phrase, or image. URLs make it possible to navigate using links, because each link is connected to a URL. When you click a link, the Web site or document associated with the URL is displayed. Some people refer to this activity of jumping from one Web page to another as surfing the Web.
URLs are registered for a standard fee (usually about $70). To acquire an appropriate URL, some companies are willing to spend a great deal more for a URL that already has been registered. Recently, eCompanies paid an entrepreneur $7.5 million for a Web address. This more than doubled the previous record – Compaq’s purchase of altavista.com for $3 million.
4 | Searching The Web
The World Wide Web is an incredible source of information on almost any topic. There are almost 2.5 billion Web pages. Exploring this vast reservoir for the answer to a search engine user’s query, which usually is expressed in just a few keywords, is a daunting task. No wonder an engineering head at AltaVista described search engines as a combination of “wizardry and witchcraft.”
Often, simple search queries yield an overwhelming number of results. This is attributed to several factors:
The limitations of search engines. A query about mustangs on the American plains might produce results involving Southern Methodist University’s football team and the Ford car.
The nature of queries. While a traditional researcher, such as a librarian, uses queries averaging 14 words, the typical Internet query is just over one word.
The creators of Web pages. Developers of commercial Web pages sometimes distort results by repeating frequently requested keywords in the background, where spiders see them but people do not.
Despite these difficulties, search engines are among the most popular sites on the Web. When choosing a search engine, experts suggest that novice users, and users looking for obscure information, turn first to the larger search engines (AltaVista, Yahoo!, Lycos, and so on) because they are easiest to use and cast the largest net.
5 | Types of Web Pages
Advocacy Web pages established for political candidates, called “e-campaigning,” has become an important part of politics. Surveys show that more than 50 percent of Internet users turn to the Web for information about political topics.
Business/marketing Web pages used for shopping on the Internet are increasingly popular. In 1999, 17 million households shopped online. This figure is expected to grow to 49 million by 2004. A survey of back-to-school shoppers 34 years old and younger showed that 17 percent planned to shop online for their children’s school needs. Perhaps more significant, only 6 percent of surveyed shoppers reported being uncomfortable with buying on the Internet.
Educational institutions frequently publish informational Web pages. Today, most colleges have Web sites that offer course descriptions, information about the student population, and registration costs and deadlines. When shopping for college, surveys show that high school seniors use the Web more than catalogs or guidebooks; about 80 percent of college-bound students start looking at college Web sites as sophomores.
News Web pages are the most popular Web sites among Americans with access to the Internet. Although these Web sites often are associated with newspapers, magazines, television stations, or radio stations, some are published only online, without a related print or broadcast media.
Portal Web pages often offer the following free services: search engine, news, sports and weather, free personal Web pages, reference tools, shopping malls, e-mail, instant messaging, newsgroups, and chat rooms. The dictionary defines a “portal” as a door or gateway. Portal Web pages are gateways to a host of services.
Personal Web pages sometimes use Web cams to provide minute-by-minute views of life in a dorm room, an apartment, a new-born baby’s crib, or even the inside of a refrigerator. One devotee of these personal Web pages says visitors often develop a sort of “relationship” with the Web page developer. Perhaps this observation is true; some personal Web pages receive more than 1,000 hits a day.
6 | How Web Pages Use Multimedia
Multimedia can bring a Web page to life, increase the types of information available on the Web, expand on the Web’s potential uses, and make the Internet a more entertaining place to explore. Because Web pages with multimedia take longer to download, most browsers allow users to turn off some multimedia elements (such as graphics) and show a text-only version, speeding the display of a Web page.
Choose a topic for a Web page, such as your school or your class. How could multimedia enhance the page? What multimedia elements would you use? How?
7 | Webcasting
Some people use Webcasting to download copyrighted material, such as music, from Web sites. Many young, unknown musicians see music Web sites as a way to gain exposure, but some already-popular musicians see sharing music on Web sites as little more than theft. The heavy metal rock band Metallica sued Napster (a music Web site) for copyright violations. A number of colleges have placed a ban on music Web sites. These schools maintain that students downloading and sharing music creates a tremendous amount of traffic, clogging the school’s computer systems. As a result, the schools are using filtering software to deny access to music Web sites. Several student groups have formed to protest this response.
Today, more than 50 percent of Web sites are commercial. Online product sales total more than $6 billion, which represents a twelve-fold increase in just five years. These numbers should be kept in perspective – in 1999, e-commerce still represented only 0.5 percent of U.S. consumer spending.
Business to consumer e-commerce often allows buyers to purchase directly from businesses, eliminating the middleman and thus providing goods and services at lower costs. Other advantages of e-commerce include:
- twenty-four hour access
- global presence
- two-way communication
- decreased costs
- lower product display and storage costs
- reduced salesperson costs
Businesses advertise with their own Web site or on another company’s Web site. The most successful Web advertisements are on popular sites, such as search engines. In terms of audience, advertising on the Web is expensive. The cost to reach 1,000 consumers is about $75 on the Web, $60 in a newspaper, $44 in a magazine, and $5 on television. Yet, Web advertisements do offer advantages:
Unlike traditional media advertising, which is passive (and often ignored by the audience), Web advertising is interactive. The audience expresses an interest in the product by clicking a hyperlink and choosing to view a Web ad.
For many products, Web users are the ideal customers. Web users tend to be students or highly educated consumers in their late 30s, with average incomes of about $55,000.
What products could benefit most from advertising on the Web. Why?
9 | Web Publishing
Deciding upon the purpose of the Web site and the audience for whom it is intended will make it easier to determine what should and should not be included on the Web site. Web publishing is an increasingly commonplace Internet activity. With the assistance of word processing packages, Web page authoring software, or Web sites that assist in the creation of Web pages, even elementary school children are developing personal Web pages.
10 | Internet Services
It is estimated that the number of e-mail users has increased 300 percent during the past five years, and the number of e-mail messages sent per day has increased 400 percent. While its growth has been phenomenal, not everyone is happy with e-mail’s ever-increasing use. In a business setting, some feel that e-mail can be counter-productive. They contend that employees spend too much time writing and reading e-mail on inconsequential topics – subjects they never would commit to paper. In a social setting, some wonder if e-mail is fitting in every situation. Although e-mail is suitable for casual messages, most believe it is inappropriate for more serious or formal communication, such as a wedding invitation. How do you feel about these reservations regarding e-mail?
Many files on anonymous FTP sites are public domain software, freeware, or shareware. Public domain software is not copyrighted and therefore can be distributed at no cost. Freeware also is available at no cost but, because it is copyrighted, it cannot be resold. Shareware can be downloaded and tried for free, but a license fee must be paid if the software is kept. Shareware users who pay the license fee may receive a manual, notification of new releases or tips, and access to technical support. The quality of freeware, public domain software, and shareware varies greatly.
The real-time character of chat makes chat rooms different from newsgroups or mailing lists. The extent to which a chat room is monitored varies. In some chat rooms, particularly those aimed at adults, a monitor’s presence hardly is noticed. Chat rooms intended for minors, however, often are monitored closely. Chat rooms can be an invaluable experience for children, letting them share thoughts and ideas with people their own age from around the country, or even around the world. Yet, to ensure that content is appropriate, parents may want to oversee a child’s first few chat room visits.
11 | Netiquette
Netiquette can be applied to all aspects of the Internet. Which netiquette rules are most important? Which rules are least important? Why? What rules, if any, would you add? In her book, Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium, syndicated columnist Judith Martin (Miss Manners) offers guidelines for use of the Internet and other technological innovations. Web sites such as http://www.fau.edu/netiquette/netiquette.htm also offer advice on Internet manners.