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Internet Basics

The Internet

How it started\ \ The Internet has evolved from a research programme of the USA's Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which developed ARPAnet, an experimental computer network. This network was designed to work with no central control on a “peer to peer” basis, so that messages would be able to go by any route to reach their destination. This method makes more efficient use of the resources available (because busy routes can be avoided) and means that if a route is disconnected or computer lost, the message can still get through an alternative path.\

How it works\ \ The Internet is not a single network but rather a “network of networks”, all conforming to a common set of “protocols” or standards for connection and traffic handling purposes. While these individual networks may be owned, nobody owns the Internet and nobody runs it. The only restriction is the underlying global telecommunications network that it runs on. Standards are maintained by mutual consent. The Internet Society is a voluntary organising body for this purpose; checking protocols and setting naming standards (domain names). It does not verify what traffic or service content is being provided.\ \ As computers working in a common language can talk to each other more easily, and because anyone can join the network as long as they adhere to the standards, the Internet has spread quickly around the world. The system can be used for discussion, sharing of ideas and research and exchange of large amounts of information. Email and the world wide web are simply examples of the types of file which can be sent between computers. The development of the web, with it's graphical presentation, and of the tool to view and access this information, Mosaic, were instrumental in advancing the popularity of the Internet. Mosaic was the first example of a web browser and has been developed for a wide range of computing platforms.\ \ The rapid take up has been driven as much (if not more) by individuals than by corporate organisations but has been taken up very quickly by Governments as well as by the private sector. It now provides access to vast information resources in over 150 countries with over 30 million users worldwide.\ \

The World Wide Web\ \ The World Wide Web (or Web) was devised and developed at Europe's CERN laboratory. It provides easy access to the vast range of networked information people have put on computers connected to the Internet. You simply send a request to another computer determined by it's unique address (see Internet Addresses) and the file is returned to your computer.\ \ The structure of these documents has been defined through a language called HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Your browser understands the HTML instructions which come in a document, and uses them to display the document or 'page' in an attractive graphical way. After viewing, these pages can then be printed or saved locally to be referenced later. The standard format of these files means you can also use your browser to access file archives, newsgroups, directory searches, a variety of media such as video, sound, and image files and so on.\ \ A key feature of HTML is Hypertext links - the user can follow a “trail” of information from one computer to others simply by selecting a highlighted piece of text or an image. Each highlight corresponds to a new unique address, giving access to a new document. This may be a new page, an email address or a sound file.\ \ Anyone with a computer attached to the Internet can therefore publish whatever they want. For this information to be permanently available, a permanent connection to the Internet is required. As this requires maintaining an open communications channel to the Internet, which is expensive, intermediaries, known as Internet service providers, host files and other services on an Internet server. Their customers may then temporarily dial up the server when they want to retrieve files from other computers on the Internet, or messages which have been sent to them, like email.\

Internet Addresses Academic users or,\ xxx.uni The individual is connected via a (US) University or other educational site An academic site in the UK. Higher education establishments, usually from the US Commercial users or\ A site owned and/or operated by or in the name of a commercial company The UK equivalent Government user US government offices or agencies Others countries take gov plus their country designation, France in this example USA military user Organisational user A non-governmental or not-for-profit organisation, communities online for example, or one that doesn't fit another category. Network provider \ At the “xxx” level, a new user applies for a “domain name”, for example our own domain name is “communities” and our Internet domain address is The domain address for the UK Government's Department of Trade & Industry is See Registering Your Own Domain Name by Phillipa Gamse from Total Net Value for guidelines on registering your own domain name.\ \ To send a message to an individual you then need a further identifier for that person, for example or\ \ To request a web page (or HTML) document from us, you'll need to specify a URL (Unique Resource Location). For example This is usually prefixed by “http:” to indicate that it's a hypertext file. www indicated it's on the world wide web. The last part of the address is the name of the file on the server, indexl\ \ The fact that you are using a computer means you need to get it right - the computer won't try to work out what you meant but it is easier to get it “right first time”. Once you have correctly entered someone's address into your computer's address book, all you need do is to select the person you want to mail, the computer will fill in the correct details.\ Electronic mail (email) \ Email is probably the most useful example of the transfer of files between computers. It is a way for users of ordinary desktop PCs to communicate with others around the world - or sitting next to you. It enables you to send private messages and files to other e-mail users conveniently, quickly and cheaply. It also provides an effective mechanism for the distribution of information to many people simultaneously. An email is therefore like a fax, a personal letter or a memo, depending on it's use, but has advantages over both fax and post. It is cheaper and faster than conventional mail, and cheaper than fax.\ \ To send an email message, you firstly compose your message without being connected. You then dial up your service provider, send the messages (which will take a matter of seconds), and disconnect again. Incoming messages wait in your mailbox on your service provider's computer until you're ready to collect them. When you wish to collect them, you dial up, download (or move) them onto your computer (again in a matter of seconds), and disconnect. This process may happen at the same time as sending your mail and the cost will be that of a short, local telephone call, even if the messages are from all over the world . You don't need paper, stamps, envelopes etc. and you can send and receive whenever you want using an existing telephone line\ \ A good email system presents the user with a list of incoming messages, showing the subject of each message and the identity of the sender. On reading a message, one can very easily reply, and then choose to copy, print, delete or file the received message for future reference, all without handling or creating any paper. This system can improve the handling and control of messages, making it possible to keep an ongoing, permanent record of discussions and forward messages to others at the click of a button.\ \ Mail Attachments and collaborative working\ \ Email is text-based. You can rework files on your computer or other's messages just as if they gave you a word processed file on disk, without re-typing it into the computer. However you may wish to exchange formatted text, data, audio or video material, for example to work on a word processor document with a group of people. This is where mail attachments can help. As long as the person you are sending it to has the same or compatible software, you can attach a file to an email message. The file will then be copied onto their computer when they pick up their email message. They may then decide to edit this copy and send it back to you in the same way.\ \ Mailing lists\ \ Collaborative working may also be realised through the use of mailing lists. Computers can be programmed to respond to specific e-mail messages. You send a message to an email address at an Internet computer which acts as an electronic forwarding office. This 'starbursts' your message out to anyone else who has subscribed to the list. You can keep in touch with many users at once and if any of them reply, their message will be sent to you, along with everyone else on the list. See mailing lists for more information.\ \ Kay Caldwell of the National Network of Community Business explains Email benefits for community business (local)\ Forums, Conferences and Newsgroups - Usenet\ \ Known as a newsgroup, discussion forum or conference depending where it resides on the Internet, forums are places where you can “post” and read articles or email, with an electronic post box where you can rummage through the messages. They can either be open to anyone - as are newsgroups on the Internet - or limited to subscribers to a particular service like Compuserve, or still further limited to a smaller or interest group, people who share a common interest in a particular topic. Some are moderated; either the content or members are controlled. Newsgroups are owned by the people who set them up and have rules of use and etiquette which usually appear as FAQs or resource files and should always be followed.\ \ Each participant can join the electronic meeting at any time, without incurring overheads of travel, meeting costs etc. When a new participant joins the meeting, he or she can catch up with what has gone before by reviewing recent activity - most such forums keep the last few hundred messages “on view” and important sets of messages can be made available to future participants through an archive. In a conventional network, if you miss a few meetings you quickly get out of touch. In the electronic meeting point, all discussion is visible even to those who aren't able to actively participate.\ \ Usenet is the term for all such distributed discussion systems. The majority of modern Usenet traffic is over the Internet but the term Usenet includes many other systems which use different software and different standards.\ \ Conferencing on the Web is a very comprehensive guide to Web software for asynchronous group discussions using stored text messages, maintained by David R. Wooley. This document links to and provides descriptions of free, commercial and “industrial strength” software. It also lists new resources chronologically, provides examples, and links to other related resources.\ Notice or Bulletin boards\ \ Bulletin board systems (or BBSs) are a place for private email, discussion forums and libraries of files. They can run on the Internet via a service provider or may be set up independently. Individuals wanting to make information available to the public or to friends directly provide a number which users need a modem to dial into, without needing an account with a service provider.\ \ While email is sent to you, a bulletin board is for public 'notices' - you need to go an look at the notice board The increase in the use of web pages means that bulletin boards are slowly being superseded.\ \ A proper balance of email, conferencing and bulletin boards can greatly improve communications.\ Information libraries and ftp\ \ These are sources of files and other resources which relate to a meeting place for a common interest group. They may contain summaries of mailing list topics, FAQs or useful software distributed by the maintainer of the forum, or be used by subscribers to disseminate their own information. During collaborative working, archived copies of work or background information may reside here, building up a library of valuable information. Although these files may be published as web pages, they are usually accessed by ftp using a special software program or via a web browser.\

partnerships/articles/basics.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)