Introduction to the Internet

Sections:
1) Introduction
2) Web Directories
3) Search Engines
4) Understanding a URL

5) Five Types of Webpages
6) Evaluation Criteria
7) Quiz

Introduction to the Internet
The Internet is a vast, worldwide network of interconnected computers, actually a network of networks that are constantly exchanging data. This giant network links large corporate and government computers, universities, and personal computers through telephone and cable systems.

The Beginning
In 1960 the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) funded a project to link computers together through telephone hookups. ARPA was interested in developing a secure military research system that could withstand power outages. Previously, ARPA had relied on one line to link its computers together. If one computer went down, the entire network would fail.

ARPA researchers developed a new software program called Internet Protocol (IP) that sent data in packets through a network of communication lines. Packets carried bits of information from one network node to another. Once these bits of information reached their destination, a computer on the other end was able to reconstruct the information. The scientists who developed the Internet did most of their work at universities. They discovered new ways to communicate electronically; one of these new means of electronic communication was e-mail.

How it Evolved
The National Science Foundation developed five supercomputer networks called ARPANet in 1986. Traffic was so heavy on this network that it soon became overloaded. NSF came to the rescue by providing more communication lines and faster computers. Up to this time only researchers at universities and a few governmental agencies used the Internet. The five supercomputer networks were increased to 15, and thousands of colleges, research companies, and governmental agencies now had access to the Internet. This new network was called NSFNET. Soon, the National Research & Educational Network (NREN) expanded NSFNET to include K-12 schools and community colleges. Vice President Al Gore was instrumental in spearheading this legislation.

The Internet Today
No one controls the Internet; it does not belong to any one person, government, or private entity. Anyone with access to a computer with a modem and telecommunication software can connect to the Internet and publish on it. The only authoritative body over the Internet is the Internet Society, a non-governmental international organization whose main function is to foster worldwide cooperation in the use of the Internet.

Most of the cost of the Internet is assumed by the various networks, which pass on the cost to their customers. Universities and colleges pay for connection for faculty and students.

Millions of people from every walk of life and from all over the world use the Internet every day. They use it for communication, entertainment, to access information on a host of subject areas and topics, to conduct business, and for education and research. Much of the information on the Internet cannot be found anywhere else, but some does duplicate printed material. Information on the Internet can be very up to date, which is important for people involved in such fields as science and business, who need access to the most current information. The instant a newspaper is printed it is available on the Internet, and so are court cases and federal regulations.

Some Definitions

E-mail. There are numerous ways to exchange information on the Internet. One way is through e-mail. E-mail is a message sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to large numbers of addresses, via listservs.

World Wide Web. The term "World Wide Web" is often used synonymously with "Internet." In fact, the Web is a graphical way of viewing the information that is transmitted via the Internet. Information on the Web comes in various formats, e.g. text, sound, images, and video.

Web Browsers. Browsers are powerful tools for reading HTML documents. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the most widely used Web browser; a popular alternative is Mozilla's Firefox.

HTML (Hyper Text Mark Up Language) is a coding language used to create documents for use on the Web. All web browsers, e.g. Netscape, Microsoft Explorer, and Firefox, can read HTML.


Works Cited:
Guernsey, Lisa. c 1998. College.Edu: On-Line Resources for the Cyber-Savvy Student. Alexandria, VA: Octameron Associates.

Bolner, Mytle S. and Gayle A. Poirier. 1997. The Research Process: Books and Beyond. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.