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partnerships:articles:basics1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Internet Basics
 +===============
 +
 +\
 + ​[Peter Mason](mailto:​peter@scip.org.uk) \<​peter@scip.org.uk\>​ wrote
 +this article in 1997
 +
 +## About the Internet
 +
 +### How it started
 +
 +The Internet has evolved from an an experimental computer network
 +created by the USA's Department of Defense in the 1960's into a global
 +network spanning over 160 countries, linking over 60 million users
 +worldwide. Since the introduction of standards for the World Wide Web
 +were devised and developed at Europe'​s CERN laboratory, there has been a
 +rapid uptake in the use of the Internet by individuals,​ governments and
 +corporate organisations.
 +
 +### How it works and Who owns it
 +
 +The Internet is not a single network but rather a "​network of networks"​
 +of computers, which all conform to standards maintained by mutual
 +consent. [The Internet Society](http://​info.isoc.org/​)
 +(http://​info.isoc.org/​) 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 and in this
 +sense, no-one owns the Internet.\
 +\
 + The standard format means that any file may be sent to or requested
 +from anyone who is attached to the network. 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
 +effectiveness of email as a communications tool, 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.\
 +\
 + To send and receive emails and to publish information on the Internet,
 +however, requires a permanent connection. As this means maintaining an
 +(expensive) open communications channel to the Internet, intermediaries,​
 +known as **Internet service providers**,​ host files, mailboxes other
 +services on a permanently connected computer, an Internet server. Their
 +customers may then temporarily 'dial up' or telephone the server when
 +they want to retrieve files from other computers on the Internet, or
 +email messages which have been sent to them\
 +\
 + ​**Optional:​ About ISPs**
 +
 +The [London InterNet eXchange](https://​www.linx.net/​)
 +(https://​www.linx.net/​) is a not-for-profit association representing the
 +28 largest ISPs in the UK. It manages the hub at which they connect
 +their networks together to exchange over 90% of UK Internet traffic. Its
 +members all operate their own International links to the global
 +Internet, and a majority of them provide access services to UK
 +customers.\
 +\
 + Most of the other service providers resell connections to the Internet
 +locally by reaching an agreement with these major providers,. Many of
 +them are members of the [Internet Services Providers Association of the
 +UK](http://​www.ispa.org.uk/​) (http://​www.ispa.org.uk/​),​ a recently
 +established trade association representing the interests of the Internet
 +industry. It has developed a Code of Practice for its 60 members, many
 +of them service providers
 +\
 +
 +Internet Tools
 +--------------
 +
 +### Electronic mail (email)
 +
 +Email is probably the most useful example of the transfer of files
 +between computers. It is;
 +
 +-   ​**Cheap** - It is a way for users of ordinary desktop PCs to send
 +    private messages and files to any number of other e-mail users next
 +    door, across town or around the world, for the price of a local
 +    phone call *and* you don't need paper, stamps or envelopes.\
 +    \
 +-   ​**Flexible** - An email is like a fax, a personal letter or a memo,
 +    depending on its use, and can include pictures or any other file as
 +    an attachment. For example, it can be a great way to distribute
 +    newsletters or communicate with staff internally.\
 +-   ​**Fast** - Email messages will arrive at their destination within a
 +    few minutes and usually a few seconds. Incoming messages wait in
 +    your mailbox on your service provider'​s computer until you're ready
 +    to collect them which leads to uninterrupted working and no engaged
 +    tones or voice-mail messages\
 +-   ​**Easy to use** - Just type your message, connect to your service
 +    provider and press send. On reading a message, a simple click is all
 +    that's needed to reply, forward, copy, print, delete or file the
 +    received message for future reference, all without handling or
 +    creating any paper. Email software presents the user with a list of
 +    incoming messages, showing the subject of each message and the
 +    identity of the sender and usually has an email address book.
 +
 +When used in conjunction with mail attachments and mailing lists, email
 +can enhance collaborative working, help you to keep in touch with others
 +in the same field and participate in discussions. While it may not
 +replace face to face interactions,​ it can certainly make these meetings
 +more efficient, giving participants a chance to review agendas, previous
 +minutes and other material beforehand.\
 +\
 + ​Although email is text-based, 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 recipient has the same or compatible software, you
 +can attach a file, such as a drawing or a spreadsheet,​ 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.\
 +\
 + ​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. Material for
 +this book was discussed and distributed using this method.\
 +\
 + ​**Optional:​**
 +
 +> **Joining a list**\
 +>  Lists can be set up manually, where someone has to update the list by
 +> adding and subtracting members, or automatically where computer
 +> software does this by reading commands in your email. To subscribe to
 +> either type of mailing list, you simply send an email to the
 +> coordinating address with the correct information in it. The exact
 +> command will depend on what type of manual or automatic list it is.
 +> The main automated mailing lists (mail servers) are Listserv,
 +> Majordomo and Listproc.\
 +>  **Other services**\
 +>  Mailing lists may offer other services, such as FAQs for beginners
 +> and digests of topics discussed for those who just want to keep
 +> informed about what's been decided. This keeps down the amount of
 +> unnecessary activity on the list.\
 +> \
 +>  **Moderation**\
 +>  A list may be run by a particular individual or group which vets who
 +> joins the list and removes troublesome members.
 +>
 +> -   Open Discussion List - Anyone can sign up and anyone who is signed
 +>     up can post to the list.
 +> -   ​Partially Restricted List - Only those authorised by the list
 +>     ​administrator can sign up to the list. Once signed up anyone can
 +>     post messages to the list.
 +> -   ​Closed (moderated) List - For distribution only. Only those
 +>     ​authorised by the list administrator can sign up or post to the
 +>     list.
 +
 +**On the web**:
 +
 +-   For finding email addresses:
 +    [www.four11.com](http://​www.four11.com/​),​
 +    [www.whowhere.com](http://​www.whowhere.com/​),​
 +    [www.bigfoot.com](http://​www.bigfoot.com/​)
 +-   For a list of community networking-related mailing lists, see
 +    [Communities Online mailing
 +    lists](http://​www.partnerships.org.uk/​internet/​listsl) (local)
 +-   ​[Liszt Directory of Email discussion groups](http://​www.topica.com/​)
 +    (http://​www.topica.com/​) has a searchable database and topic menus
 +
 +### Tools for Interest groups:
 +
 + ​Forums,​ Conferences,​ Newsgroups, Bulletin boards and 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. There is likely to be a forum about
 +anything you can think of - and some you couldn'​t even imagine!\
 +\
 + They can either be open to anyone - as are **newsgroups** on the
 +Internet - or limited to subscribers to a particular service like
 +Compuserve or GreenNet, 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, often appearing as FAQs or resource files, which 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.\
 +\
 + Note: **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.\
 +\
 + ​**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. For example,
 +individuals wanting to make information available to friends directly
 +may provide a computer, modem and a telephone number which participants
 +then use a modem to dial into, without needing an Internet account or
 +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 to keep up to date. The
 +increasing use of the world wide web means that bulletin boards are
 +slowly being superseded.\
 +\
 + A proper balance of email, mailing lists, forums and bulletin boards
 +can greatly improve communications.\
 +\
 + **On the web:**
 +
 +-   ​[Conferencing on the
 +    Web](http://​freenet.msp.mn.us/​people/​drwool/​webconf) by David
 +    R. Wooley (at http://​freenet.msp.mn.us/​people/​drwool/​webconfl),​
 +    is a very comprehensive guide to Web software for asynchronous group
 +    discussions using stored text messages.
 +
 +### FTP and file archives
 +
 +File archives are a way of making documents, programmes, pictures and
 +other files available, either to anyone, or to those with the correct
 +password. These files are created, updated and read by special software
 +called an ftp client. The files can then be copied - or ftp'd - to and
 +from any computer on the Internet. These files may also be accessed
 +through a web-browser (see below)\
 +\
 +
 +### The World Wide Web
 +
 +Often confused with the Internet, the World Wide Web (or Web) provides
 +easy access to the vast range of networked information people have put
 +on computers all over the world. It is the multimedia publishing side of
 +the Net and anyone can '​publish'​ by placing files on a computer
 +connected to the Internet\
 +\
 + To access the vast amount available, you simply send a request to
 +another computer determined by it's unique address and the file is
 +returned to your computer. The data is often free, and the cost of
 +transfer again the price of a local call.\
 +\
 + The structure of these documents (or web pages) 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, although extra software may be required to interpret them and the
 +transfer of large files, such as video, will be slow.\
 +\
 + A key feature of web pages are 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, for
 +example, a new page, an email address or a sound file.\
 +\
 + **Web publishing: Creating Web pages\
 +** Until recently, creating a web page meant learning the language,
 +HTML, that these files are written in. There are now many editors to
 +choose from which work like a word processor or DTP package, allowing
 +direct entry of text and formatting. These documents are then sent to an
 +Internet server, usually using ftp, allowing anyone in the world access
 +to your this information. Although this is an efficient means of
 +distributing information,​ there is an overhead. When a leaflet or
 +newsletter is sent to print, that is the end of the process. However,
 +web pages will require continual maintenance to ensure they stay up to
 +date.\
 +
 +### Searching the Web
 +
 +As it is so easy to publish and as educational institutes have invested
 +in the opportunity for information sharing, there is an incredible
 +amount of data available on the web. Unfortunately,​ the nature of the
 +web means it is impossible to index all of this data. However, there are
 +ways of finding what you want.\
 +\
 + You can use a '​**search engine**'​ to hunt through the enormous
 +databases of titles or content of web pages or use menu and subject
 +driven systems such as Yahoo. The databases contain indexes of words and
 +phrases associated with URLs and your task is to come up with words that
 +match this index to list web pages or discussion areas which might be of
 +interest to you. These search engines are amazingly powerful - but
 +unless you are careful in specifying your search criteria you can end up
 +with thousands of '​hits'​.\
 +\
 + ​Another option is to enlist the help of someone who has already
 +organised the data for you and created a **gateway** page. This may be a
 +national organisation specialising in a particular field, or a hobbyist.
 +Either will usually present a list of useful links to sites of
 +interest.\
 +\
 + ​Finally,​ if you require an answer to something, you can ask an expert.
 +This requires monitoring relevant mailing lists and forums and posing
 +the question there. Beware that you don't waste people'​s time by asking
 +for something that might be found in an FAQ list or file archive.\
 +
 +### Internet Addresses
 +
 +Internet Addresses are based on **domain addresses**. These take the
 +form:\
 +**domain-name.domain-type.country-code**\
 +
 +Generally, the domain-name is the name of a company or an organisation,​
 +here indicated by **xxx**. Domain-types relate to the type of
 +organisation:​\
 +
 +Academic
 +
 +Commercial
 +
 +Government
 +
 +USA military
 +
 +(Non profit)\
 + ​Organisation
 +
 +Network provider\
 +
 +xxx**.ac**,​\
 + ​xxx.**uni**
 +
 +xxx.**co** or\
 + ​xxx**.com**
 +
 +xxx**.gov**
 +
 +xxx**.mil**
 +
 +xxx**.org**
 +
 +xxx**.net**
 +
 +\
 +
 +The country code is optional; users in the US and international
 +organisations often omit it, while a university in the UK would be, for
 +example, xxx.**ac**.uk\
 +\
 + ​**Examples**\
 + Our own domain name is "​communities"​ and our Internet domain address is
 +**communities.org.uk**. The domain address for the UK Government'​s
 +Department of Trade & Industry is **dti.gov.uk.\
 +\
 + On the web:** See [Registering Your Own Domain
 +Name](http://​www.vois.org.uk/​etongarages/​phillipa3l)
 +(http://​www.vois.org.uk/​etongarages/​phillipa3l) by Phillipa Gamse
 +for guidelines on registering your own domain name.\
 +\
 + ​**Email addresses**\
 + To send a message (or email) to an individual you then need a further
 +identifier for that person, for example <​dwilcox@pavilion.co.uk>​ or
 +<​info@communities.org.uk>​\
 +\
 + **Web addresses**\
 + To request a web page (or HTML) document from us, you'll need to
 +specify a URL (Unique Resource Location). For example, this page can be
 +found at www.communities.org.uk/​. This is usually prefixed by "​http://"​
 +to indicate that it's a hypertext file, but most web browsers will
 +default this in for you. www indicates that it's on the world wide web.
 +The last part of the address is the name of the file on the
 +communities.org.uk server.\
 +
 +## Getting Started
 +
 +Requirements for getting online are similar to getting a mobile phone.
 +You'll need the equipment (in this case a **computer**,​ a **modem** and
 +a **telephone line**) and a service provider (an **Internet Service
 +Provider** or ISP). As you use the service you'll incur telephone costs,
 +and in the case of an on-line service like America Online or Microsoft
 +Network, you may pay for time using the services
 +
 +#### Computer Equipment - Minimum Requirements
 +
 +To run email only, a 386 IBM Compatible PC or Mac Plus is sufficient,
 +although some mail packages will also run on a 286. To run a WWW
 +browser, a 486 IBM (Win 3.1) or Mac 68020 (O.S. 7.x), both with 8Mb RAM,
 +is required
 +
 +#### Modems
 +
 +At standard entry level, we recommend purchasing the fastest modem you
 +can afford, or get your hands on. As a minimum, this is 14,400 bps (bits
 +per second, the speed the data transfers, also called V32.bis) from£80,
 +although the standard is now 28,000 bps (or V34) from £120, 33,600 bps
 +are coming in and there are faster ones coming along all the time, with
 +57,600 bps expected in 1997.\
 + ​Modems can be internal or external to your computer, but external
 +modems are more mobile, you don't have to take computer apart and
 +there'​s less likely to be a conflict. Whatever type of modem you get,
 +make sure it has BABT (British Approvals Board for Telecommunications)
 +approval and, if it is external, that a cable is provided. You may also
 +need an adaptor for your existing phone line.\
 + **\
 + On the web:** At http://​web.aimnet.com/​\~jnavas/​modem/​faql,​ John
 +Navas maintains a 28800 Modem FAQ that might be of help.
 +
 +#### Software
 +
 +All may be downloaded free for charities or not-for-profit groups - your
 +Internet Service Provider should provide details.
 +
 +#### An Internet Account
 +
 +An Internet service provider (ISP) is your link to the Internet. You buy
 +the equipment and then pay them a monthly or yearly subscription to
 +attach you to the Internet. This will vary from about £7 per month up to
 +£15 but there will be variations in what you get for that as some offer
 +extra online services (for example Which? or Compuserve). They may also
 +charge you a set up cost, but if you pay this and then decide to change
 +service you'll lose money. Beware of providers which charge for time
 +on-line as this can quickly mount up. You'll may also want to check how
 +many email accounts you get, whether they offer ISDN - and whether that
 +comes at a higher cost.\
 + A service provider should provide:
 +
 +-   a local point of presence (so that your calls are local rate)
 +-   fast speed of access (so that your modem can run at full speed)
 +-   ​software to get you up and running
 +-   help and support - this is particularly important when you are
 +    starting out
 +-   Space on their computers which are permanently connected to the
 +    Internet where you can place files or web pages, sometimes for free.
 +
  
partnerships/articles/basics1.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)