Networks and Tools
The World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is not the Internet, but a network of its own... just one part of the Internet. One can think of the Web as the publishing house of the Internet.
The Web Browser, client software for "browsing the Web", makes it easy to access this global network of computers. Select a highlighted or underlined link in the text; or a graphic for graphical link; and you are taken to the page, topic or site that the link points to.
Electronic Mail or Email
With email, you can communicate with someone across the globe, almost instantly. Email a valuable tool for exchanging ideas and information.
Newsgroups or Usenet.
These are a massive collection of electronic bulletin boards devoted to almost every conceivable topic.
To keep informed on a topic of interest, you can subscribe to a mailing list. The contents of the list are sent to you by email.
Be Careful... Some mailing lists have a lot of postings!
IRC or Internet Relay Chat
You can talk, or to be more exact type, to others online in real time using IRC. There are chat channels for most topics you care to mention.
FTP or File Transfer Protocol
FTP is the worker application. By FTP you ask other computers to send you files, that is to download files from other computers and receive them in one piece.
How do you upload or place files from your computer onto another computer? You use FTP.
Search Engines: How do you find things on the Net? A Search Engine is dedicated software that allows users to search through the mountains of information on the Internet. Most index the Web, but some also search newsgroups and other areas of the Internet.
Gopher and WAIS
No discussion of the history of the Internet could be complete without mentioning Gopher and WAIS. These tools are all but obsolete, having been superseded by the Web's search engines, however they were once invaluable for digging out information.
WAIS was used for extracting information from databases and catalogues.