July 15, 2024
Following are the definitions of some common Internet terms. Search by the first letter of the word you wish to know more about or scroll the entire list. If you don't find the term that you are looking for here, send an email to editor@upromote.com and we will send the definition and add it to our expanding glossary.

Alternatively, you can download the UPromote Terms Glossary in .pdf format.(61 K, 16 pages)


Access Provider: The remote computer system to which you connect your personal computer and through which you connect to the Internet. An access provider is the company that provides you with Internet access and in some cases, an online account on their computer system. An access provider can be a large commercial service like Compuserve or America Online, which will charge you by the hour for your Internet access, or a small local company, which might charge you a flat rate per month for unlimited hours. If you access the Internet directly from a company account, then your company is your access provider.

The range of services and the cost can vary widely depending on your geographic location and the number of service providers in your area. Of course, there is no limit on the number of providers you can have, and for various reasons you may find that you want or need more than one provider.

Ad banner: An ad on a Web page, often using moving images and sound as well as text. Clicking on a banner usually takes the user to an advertiser's Web site.

Ad request: An ad request occurs each time the user's browser requests information from an ad server. If a Web page contains an ad, the browser will automatically request the information from the ad server.

Ad view: Technically, an ad view (also called an exposure) occurs every time an ad is requested from an ad server. Or, on the front end, an ad view represents the number of times a banner ad is seen on a Web page.

ARPANET: The computer network system that gave birth to the Internet. ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Administration Network) began in 1969 as a U.S. Department of Defense experiment in packet-switched networking.

Backbone: A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. For example, National Science Foundation's network (NSFNET) was, for many years, the backbone of the Internet. See also Network.

Bandwidth: The maximum amount of data that can travel a communications path in a given time, usually measured in seconds. If you think of the communications path as a pipe, then bandwidth represents the width of the pipe that determines how much data can flow through it all at once.

Binary File: A file that contains more than plain text (i.e. photos, sounds, a spreadsheet, or a formatted word-processing document). In contrast to ASCII files, which contain only characters (plain text), binary files contain additional code information. A binary file is made up of machine-readable symbols that represent 1s and 0s. Binary files include sound files, graphics files, and software, and are frequently called binaries.

This all becomes important when you wish to transmit a file over the Internet. Let's say you want to download a neat piece of software called "Fitware" to help you keep track of your fitness regime. Depending on the software you use, you may find yourself confronted with a choice of file formats to download. If the file is a piece of software (like the "Fitware" program), a sound file, or a picture file, you will choose the "binary" option.

Bit: Short for binary digit, a bit is the smallest unit of data a computer can handle. Bits are used in various combinations to represent different kinds of data. Each bit has a value of 0 or 1.

BPS: Abbreviation for Bits Per Second and a measurement of how fast data is transmitted. BPS is usually used to describe modem speeds or the speed of a digital connection. See ISDN; T1 Line and T3 Line.

Browser: A software program that allows you to view and interact with various kinds of Internet resources available on the World Wide Web. A browser is commonly called a web browser.

Byte: A series of bits of a particular length -- usually 8. Computer storage space is measured in bytes. A Kilobyte (or 1K) represents 1024 bytes and a Megabyte (1Mb) represents one thousand "K" bytes, or one million bytes.

Cache: When you download a web page, the data is cached, meaning it is stored temporarily on your computer. The next time you want that page, instead of requesting the file from the web server, your web browser just accesses it from the cache. That way, the page loads quickly. But if the web page is updated frequently, as may be the case with news, sports scores or financial data, you won't get the most current information. By using the Reload button on your browser, this timely data is updated by downloading fresh data from the server.

Click-through: The number of times an ad banner is clicked on during a given period. Each time a user clicks on an ad banner--thus taking that user to the advertiser's site--it represents one click-through, or click.

Click-through rate: The percentage of times a banner ad is clicked on out of the total number of ad views. If a Web page containing your ad is seen by 10 users and one user clicks on the ad, the click-through rate is 10 percent. Expressed mathematically as clicks divided by ad views, the click-through rate is a measure of an ad's success. Often shortened to click rate.

Common Gateway Interface (CGI): The interface program that enables an Internet server to run external programs to perform a specific function. Also referred to as Gateway or CGI "scripts," these programs generally consist of a set of instructions written in a programming language like C or PERL that process requests from a browser, execute a program and format the results in HTML, so they can be displayed in the browser. Gateway scripts are commonly used to add interactivity to a web page by allowing users to do things like fill out and submit forms for processing (as in an order form for an online catalog); query databases by submitting search requests; and register or gain access to password-protected areas of a site. CGI scripts are also used to implement a variety of tracking and measurement systems on a web site.

Cookies: A cookie is a file sent to a web browser by a web server that is used to record one's activities on a web site. For instance, when you buy items from a site and place them in a so-called virtual shopping cart, that information is stored in the cookie. When the browser requests additional files, the cookie information is sent back to the server. Cookies can remember other kinds of personal information --your password, so you don't have to re-enter it each time you visit the site; your preferences, so the next time you return to a site, you can be presented with customized information. Some people regard cookies as an invasion of privacy; others think they are a harmless way to make web sites more personal.

Most cookies have an expiration date and either reside in your computer's memory until you close your browser or they are saved to your hard drive. By the way, cookies cannot read information stored in your computer.

You can use a text editor to view cookie files. For Windows users of Navigator, the file is called cookies.txt and is located in the the same folder as Netscape. Mac users can find it in the Netscape folder in the System/Preferences folder. Explorer creates separate files for each cookie and stores them in folders named "Cookies" or "Temporary Internet Files."

CPM: Cost per thousand ad views. (The M stands for the Latin mille, meaning "a thousand.") The cost of the ad per 1,000 ad views.

Dial-up Account: A type of account available for connecting to the Internet. Having an account on a computer system means you have a login name and a password that lets you access some parts of that system. A dial-up account through an Internet Service Provider allows you to use your modem to make a connection to your provider's system. Once you have dialed your provider's local number and are connected, the provider then connects you directly to the Internet, where you can run any Internet navigation software (like a web browser), just as you would if you had a direct connection to the Net.

Different types of dial-up accounts are available. A SLIP or PPP account allows you to navigate the World Wide Web directly from your Windows or Mac operating system. A UNIX shell account allows you to use UNIX commands on your service provider's system.

Also see Access Providers.

Directory A system that your computer uses to organize files on the basis of specific information. Directories can be organized hierarchically so that files appear in a number of different ways, such as the order in which they were created; alphabetically by name or by type, etc.

Dithering: When working with a computer display system that supports 8-bit color (or fewer colors), the video card can display only 256 different colors at one time. Dithering is a technique to simulate the display of colors that are not in the current color palette of a particular image. It accomplishes this by arranging adjacent pixels of different colors into a pattern which simulates colors that are not available to the computer.

Domain Name: The unique name that identifies an Internet site. The Internet is made up of hundreds of thousands of computers and networks, all with their own domain name or unique address. Domain names always have two or more parts separated by dots. A given server may have more than one domain name, but a given domain name points to only one server.

For example, "whitehouse.gov" is the domain name belonging to the Whitehouse computer system. Once a system administrator registers a unique domain name, subaddresses can be assigned to the machines and people on the local network. So the President's e-mail address is "president@whitehouse.gov," the Vice-President's is "vice-president@whitehouse.gov," and so on. Each corresponds to a unique IP address. The machine that serves up the Whitehouse web pages is called www.whitehouse.gov.

Domain names typically consist of some form of the organization's name and a suffix that describes the type of organization. For example, IBM has registered the domain name "ibm.com"; Xerox corporation has registered "xerox.com." Registration is on a first come, first served basis. The domain name suffix is assigned based on the type of organization. For U.S. domains, the suffixes are:

.com - corporations
.edu - educational institutions
.org - non-profit organizations
.mil - military organization
.net - network provider
.gov - government institution

In addition, non-U.S. sites have an additional extension that indicates the country where the domain is located. For example:

.au - Australia
.dk - Denmark
.ge - Germany
.uk - United Kingdom

In the United States, domain names are assigned and indexed by the InterNIC project (a joint project of the National Science Foundation, AT&T, and Network Solutions, Inc.). Each of these addresses is actually an alias of a numerical address (called an IP address). The IP number for the Whitehouse for example, is To access the Whitehouse Internet site, you could use the IP number if you like, but most people prefer to use the quasi-English domain name alias "whitehouse.gov."

There is much more information about domain names available at The InterNIC Home Page. To learn the IP address and to contact names for a particular domain name (such as whitehouse.gov), use the InterNIC WHOIS search form. You can also use this form to see if anyone has registered a domain name you may be considering.

DPI (Dots Per Inch): A measurement of print image resolution and quality. A larger number of dots allows for more detail and therefore a higher resolution image. The average laser printer has a resolution of 300 x 300 dpi which means it can print 300 dots per inch horizontally and 300 dots per inch vertically, 90,000 dots per square inch. A high-resolution, professional quality laser printer prints at 1200 dpi.

Email List: A way of having a group discussion by electronic mail. Also used to distribute announcements to a large number of people. A mailing list is very much like a conference on a bulletin board system, except the conversation comes to you in your e-mail box. Each time you or any member of the list posts a reply to the conversation, it is distributed to the e-mail box of every member of the list. All of this traffic is automated and managed by programs called mailing list managers (MLM's) or mail servers. The two most frequently used programs are Listserv and Majordomo.

Mailing lists are the most basic form of Internet conferencing. They can be public or private and, unlike Usenet newsgroups, which require additional software to run, all you need to participate is an e-mail address.

A mailing list is said to be "unmoderated" if all of the messages sent to the list are automatically forwarded to each member of the list. In a "moderated" list, all messages are sent first to a list moderator, who makes decisions about which postings will or will not be sent to everyone on the list.

If many people are on a mailing list, the traffic in your e-mail box can be overwhelming. One way to deal with this is to subscribe to the "digest" version of the list (not all mailing lists have digest versions). In a digest version, postings are collected into a single file and distributed to the list on a regular basis (usually daily). In this way you receive only one big file at regular intervals rather than hundreds of small ones everyday.

You join a mailing list by subscribing to it - also termed Opting-In or Opt-in Direct Email. This doesn't mean you have to pay money, it just means you are asking to have your e-mail address added to the distribution list. To get off the mailing list, you have to unsubscribe from the list. You do both by sending an e-mail message to the list administrator with the following in the body of your message:

subscribe name-of-list your e-mail address
unsubscribe name-of-list your e-mail address

The exact way of doing this varies a little from list to list. It's best to request information about the list first and that will tell you exactly what you need to do. Once you've subscribed to a list you will receive an e-mail message with details about how the list works and how to unsubscribe.

Firewall: A combination hardware and software buffer that many companies or organizations have in place between their internal networks and the Internet. A firewall allows only specific kinds of messages from the Internet to flow in and out of the internal network. This protects the internal network from intruders or hackers who might try to use the Internet to break into those systems.

Flaming: A combination hardware and software buffer that many companies or organizations have in place between their internal networks and the Internet. A firewall allows only specific kinds of messages from the Internet to flow in and out of the internal network. This protects the internal network from intruders or hackers who might try to use the Internet to break into those systems.

Forms: Forms are web pages comprised of text and "fields" for a user to fill in with information. They are an excellent way of collecting and processing information from people visiting a web site, as well as allowing them to interact with web pages. Forms are written in HTML and processed by CGI programs. The output can be sent as an e-mail form, stored online, printed, and/or returned to the user as an HTML page. When you enter a keyword in the search field of an Internet directory, you are filling in a form. It is then processed by a CGI program, returning a list of possible matches with your keyword. Forms are also used for online catalogs, surveys, requests for information, and conferencing.

FTP: An acronym for File Transfer Protocol -- a very common method of transferring one or more files from one computer to another. FTP is a specific way to connect to another Internet site to retrieve and send files. FTP was developed in the early days of the Internet to copy files from computer to computer. With the advent of the World Wide Web, and web browser software, you no longer need to know arcane FTP commands to copy to and from other computers. In your browser, you can use FTP by typing the URL into the location box at the top of your screen. For example: ftp://name.of.site/directory/filename.zip will transfer filename.zip to your computer's hard disk. You can also use ftp://name.of.site/directory/ which will give you a listing of all the files available in that directory. If you are using a web browser that doesn't have built-in FTP capability, or if you want to upload files to a remote computer, you will need to use an FTP client program to transfer files. To use FTP you need to know the name of the file, the computer where it resides, and the directory it's in. Most files are available via "anonymous FTP," which means you can log into the machine with the user name "anonymous" and use your e-mail address as your password.

GIF or .gif: Acronym for Graphics Interchange Format. This graphics file format uses a compression scheme originally developed by CompuServe. Because they are compressed, the file sizes can be quickly and easily transmitted over a network. That's why it is the most commonly used graphics format on the World Wide Web.

Graphical User Interface (GUI): A GUI interface allows users to navigate and interact with information on their computer screen by using a mouse to "point," "click," and "drag" icons and other data around on the screen, instead of typing in words and phrases. The Windows and Macintosh operating systems are examples of GUI's. The World Wide Web is an example of a GUI designed to enhance navigation of the Internet, once done exclusively via terminal-based (i.e. typed command line) functions.

Hit: This term refers to the number of files that are downloaded from a web server. It's a way of measuring traffic to a website that can be misleading. The number of hits a site receives is usually much greater than the number of visitors it gets. That's because a web page can contain more than one file. For example, each graphic element is a separate file, so a page with nine graphics would count as ten hits, one for each graphic and one for the HTML file. In this scenario a page may have 10,000 hits, but only 1,000 visits.

HTML: Acronym for HyperText Markup Language, HTML is the computer language used to create hypertext documents. HTML utilizes a finite list of tags that describe the general structure of various kinds of documents linked together on the World Wide Web.

HTTP: HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol -- the method by which hypertext files are transferred across the Internet. Letās examine these terms one at a time. "Hypertext" was coined by Ted Nelson in 1965 to mean "text which is not constrained to be linear." When used with the web, it is text that is linked to something else. When you click on a word and you are shown another page (or a sound file or a picture), you are using hypertext. Hypertext allows you to jump around between files, following your own interests and train of thought. World Wide Web pages written in HTML use hypertext to link to other documents.

Hypertext transfer is simply the tranfer of hypertext files from computer to computer. When you are reading a hypertext document, say, at the Library of Congress site, you can click on a link that takes you to the NASA page. Of course, you haven't actually gone anywhere. A document simply has been transferred from NASA's computer to your computer, across the Internet.

Now what on earth is protocol? In computerese, a protocol is a set of standards used by two computers to communicate and exchange information with each other. To put it all together, HyperText Transfer Protocol is the set of standards used by computers to transfer hypertext files (web pages) over the Internet.

Hypertext: A way of presenting information in which text, sounds, images, and actions are linked together in a way that allows you to jump around between them in whatever order you choose. Hypertext usually refers to any text available on the World Wide Web that contains links to other documents.

Image Map: An image map is a graphic divided into regions or "hotspots." When a particular region is clicked, it calls up a web page that has been associated with that particular region. A typical example of an image map is a web site that offers national information organized by state. Clicking on a state on a map of the United States calls up the appropriate page.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): Also called access providers. The remote computer system to which you connect your personal computer and through which you connect to the Internet. ISPs that you access by modem and telephone line are often called dial-up services.

Intranet: You can think of an intranet as an internal Internet designed to be used within the confines of a company, university or organization. What distinguishes an intranet from the freely accessible Internet, is that intranets are private. Until recently most corporations relied on proprietary hardware and software systems to network its computers, a costly and time-consuming process made more difficult when offices are scattered around the world. Even under the best of conditions, sharing information among different hardware platforms, file formats and software is not an easy task. By using off-the-shelf Internet technology, intranets solve this problem, making internal communication and collaboration much simpler.

Intranets use TCP/IP to transmit information across the network, as well as HTML to create documents.Information is stored on one or more company servers and accessed by using a web browser, such as Navigator or Explorer. This self-contained, miniature Internet can have all the same features -- individual home pages, newsgroups, e-mail - but they are restricted to company employees and contractors.

IP Address: A numeric code that uniquely identifies a particular computer on the Internet. Just as a street address identifies the location of your home or office, every computer or network on the Internet has a unique address, too. Internet addresses are assigned to you by an organization called InterNIC. You register your address with InterNIC as both a name (whitehouse.gov), which is referred to as the domain name, and a number (, which is generally referred to as the IP address or IP number.

Because the numeric addresses are difficult to understand or remember, most people use names instead like whitehouse.gov or ibm.com. A software database program called Domain Name Service (DNS) tracks the names and translates them into their numerical equivalent so that the computers can understand what they are and find them. See Domain Name.

When you have a standard dial-up account with an Internet provider, you will either be assigned a "permanent" or "static" IP address (i.e. its always the same), or the system will use "dynamic" IP addressing, which assigns you an address every time you log on. If you are an organization and want all of your employees' computers to have Internet access, you can apply to the InterNIC for a range of IP addresses. Most likely, the InterNIC will assign you a Class C address, which consists of 255 unique IP numbers for you to assign to your employees.

If you need more than 255 IP address, you can apply for a Class B address, which will give you over 65,000 unique IP addresses. Class A addresses are for very large companies. Both Class A and Class B addresses are very hard, if not impossible, to get. Usually, companies will get multiple Class C addresses. Actually, we're quickly running out of IP addresses. So the Internet Engineering Task Force, which standardized the IP protocol, is working on a solution, described in IP: Next Generation. The document is rather technical, so beware.

ISDN: An acronym for Integrated Services Digital Network. ISDN lines are connections that use ordinary phone lines to transmit digital instead of analog signals, allowing data to be transmitted at a much faster rate than with a traditional modem.

ISDN converts audio signals - your voice for instance - into digital bits. Since bits can be transmitted very quickly, you can get much faster speed out of the same telephone line - four times faster than a 14.4 kbps modem. In addition, ISDN connections are made up of two different channels, allowing two simultaneous "conversations" so you can speak on one channel and send a fax or connect to the Internet over another channel. All of these transactions occur on the same twisted-pair phone line currently plugged into your telephone. To find out if you can get ISDN, contact your local phone company or call around to a few local Internet service providers.

ISDN is a powerful tool for Internet communications, but it is not available everywhere. Traditionally, it has been used in urban business zones and large corporate settings with special digital switching equipment, but residential ISDN service is expanding rapidly. If you are shopping for an Internet access provider that offers you ISDN, be sure to thoroughly evaluate the equipment costs. An ISDN line can offer you inexpensive, high-bandwidth connections, but you may have to buy special equipment (like routers and switchers) that allow ISDN to communicate with your internal networks.

Java: Java is an object-oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. to create executable content (i.e self-running applications) that can be easily distributed through networks like the Web. Developers use Java to create special programs called applets that can be incorporated in a web page to make it interactive. A Java-enabled web browser like Sun's HotJava is required to interpret and run the Java applets.

Like a gateway (CGI) script, Java is activated by a special HTML tag on a web page. But unlike gateway scripts, which require information that exists on the server to run applications or process input, Java enables developers to create content that can be delivered to and run by users on their computers. This software can support anything that programmers can dream up, from spreadsheets and tutorials to interactive games and animation.

JPEG: Acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group, an industry committee that developed a compression standard for still images. JPEG refers to the graphics file format that uses this compression standard. You will find JPEG files on the World Wide Web with the file extension .JPG.

Link: Generally refers to any highlighted words or phrases in a hypertext document that allow you to "jump" to another section of the same document or to another document on the World Wide Web.

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension): MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension, a standard system for identifying the type of data contained in a file based on its extension. MIME is an Internet protocol that allows you to send binary files across the Internet as attachments to e-mail messages. This includes graphics, photos, sound and video files, and formatted text documents. MIME has to negotiate many different operating systems and types of software to perform this amazing feat. Its invention has been a major step forward in the exchange of non-text information over the Internet.

E-mail programs that allow you to send and receive these types of files are said to be MIME-compliant. Many of these programs now incorporate MIME and have made it practically invisible to the user. You are probably using MIME when you send e-mail with an "attachment" of a formatted file. If not, then your mail program is using something very similar called UUencoding and UUdecoding to achieve the same result.

Mirror: An FTP server that provides copies of the same files as another server. Used when an FTP site is so popular that the volume of users accessing it keeps others from getting through. A mirror site provides an alternate way to access the same files.

Navigation Tools: Navigation tools allow users to find their way around a website or multimedia presentation. They can be hypertext links, clickable buttons, icons, or image maps. Navigation tools are usually present either at the bottom or top (sometimes both) of each page or screen and typically allow users to return to the previous page, move forward to the next page, jump to the top of the current page and return to the home page.

Netiquette: A form of online etiquette. This term refers to an informal code of conduct that governs what is generally considered to be the acceptable way for users to interact with one another online.

Newsgroups: Electronic discussion groups consisting of collections of related postings (also called articles) on a particular topic that are posted to a news server which then distributes them to other participating servers. There are thousands of newsgroups covering a wide range of subjects. You must subscribe to a newsgroup in order to participate in it or to track the discussion on an on-going basis. Unlike with a magazine or newspaper, subscribing to a newsgroup does not cost anything.

Newsgroups are found primarily on Usenet. Usenet is the collection of computers that participate in a global conferencing system that make newsgroups perhaps the largest distributed bulletin board system in the world. Newsgroups are one of the oldest and most widely used services on the Internet. There are more than 13,000 of them, with new ones coming online all the time. Not all newsgroups are carried by Usenet, and Usenet is carried by networks that are not on the Internet.

Newsreader: A software program that lets you subscribe to newsgroups as well as read and post messages to them. A newsreader is like a friendly librarian who keeps track of the articles posted to the newsgroups you like to read and locates them when you want to read them.

Object-oriented Programming: A programming technique that speeds the development of programs and makes them easier to maintain through the re-use of "objects" that have behaviors, characteristics, and relationships associated with them. The objects are organized into collections (also called class libraries) which are then available for building and maintaining applications. Each object is part of a "class" of objects, which are united via "inheritance" and share certain characteristics and relationships.

Packet/Packet Switching: A packet is a chunk of information sent over a network. Packet-switching is the process by which a carrier breaks up data into these chunks or "packets." Each packet contains the address of origin, the address of its destination, and information about how to reunite with other related packets. This process allows packets from many different locations to co-mingle on the same lines and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way.

Page view: Like an ad view but for an individual Web page. A page view occurs each time a Web page is requested from a server.

Pathname: A pathname indicates the location of a particular file or directory by outlining the route or "path" from the host name (if the file resides on a remote server) through the directory structure to the desired filename or directory name. Each name in the series of names that define a path are separated by a slash. If the file is located in the current working directory on your computer, it is referred to only by its filename.

Pathnames can be absolute or relative. An absolute pathname provides the full path (address) of a file, including the computer system, directories, and subdirectories (if any) it resides in. Relative pathnames are used to describe a file or directory location on the user's system relative to the user's current location on the system (i.e. based on which level of the directory structure the user is in).

PERL (Practical Extraction and Reporting Language): A robust programming language frequently used for creating CGI programs on web servers because it is faster than UNIX shell script programs, it can read and write binary files, and it can process very large files. The major advantage of PERL over C as a programming language is that PERL does not need to be compiled.

Pixel: A pixel (short for picture element) is the smallest element that can be displayed on a video screen or computer monitor, and is often used as a unit of measurement for image size and resolution. The number of pixels (width and height) in an image defines its size and the number of pixels in an inch defines the resolution of the image.

Plug-in: A plug-in extends the capabilities of a web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer, allowing the browser to run multimedia files. The term "plug-in" is used in two ways on the Internet. The technical definition of a plug-in is a small add-on piece of software that conforms to Netscape Navigator standard. Other browsers however, including Microsoft Explorer, support many Netscape plug-ins. But Explorer actually uses a different software standard, called an ActiveX control, instead of plug-ins.

PPP: PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) is a communications protocol used to transmit network data over telephone lines. It allows you to connect your computer to the Internet itself, rather than logging on through an Internet Service Provider's host computer and using UNIX commands through a shell. This type of connection lets you communicate directly with other computers on the network using TCP/IP connections. It is part of the TCP/IP suite of programs necessary to connect to and use the Internet.

If you have a dial-up account with an Internet service provider, you are using either PPP or SLIP to make your connection to the Internet. PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) is rapidly replacing SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) as the more common standard. Where as SLIP is easy to install and to use, it does not provide error correction or certain negotiation features that are built into PPP.

Where do you get PPP? If you bought an Internet package, a PPP program would be part of the collection of software programs you received. Some Internet Service Providers will give you a disk with the appropriate software when you sign up for an account. Others will point you to a BBS where you can download the software yourself.

Rich-media ads: HTML or JavaScript banner ads that may offer multiple functions, such as pull-down menus or search fields.

Robots: Programs that are designed to automatically go out and explore the Internet for a variety of purposes. Robots that record and index all of the contents of the network to create searchable databases are sometimes called Spiders or Worms. WebCrawler and Lycos are popular examples of this.

Shockwave: Shockwave is a set of programs that allow Macromedia Director animation files to be played over the Internet with a web browser. Possible uses for this type of animation on the Web include online advertising, games, training, and animated logos.

Signature: Text automatically included at the bottom of an e-mail message or newsgroup posting to personalize it. This can be anything from a clever quote to some additional information about the sender, like their title, company name and additional e-mail addresses they may have. Netiquette suggests that signatures be four lines or fewer.

Site traffic: An ambiguous term. Some consider the number of unique visitors during a given period to be a site's traffic. Others consider it the number of page views during a given period (usually a month).

SLIP: An acronym for Serial Line Internet Protocol. SLIP is a communications protocol that, like PPP, allows you to connect your computer to the Internet itself, using a telephone line. It is part of the TCP/IP suite of programs necessary to connect to and use the Internet.

If you have a dial-up account to an Internet service provider, you are using either PPP or SLIP to make your connection to the Internet. Although SLIP is easy to install and use, it does not provide the error correction or negotiation features that PPP has. For this reason, PPP is rapidly replacing SLIP as the more common Standard.

SPAM: Originally just a canned sandwich filler product, now this term is also used to refer to the practice of blindly posting commercial messages or advertisements to a large number of unrelated and uninterested newsgroups.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL): A protocol developed by Netscape Communications Corporation for securing data transmission in commercial transactions on the Internet. Using public-key cryptography, SSL provides server authentication, data encryption, and data integrity for client/server communications.

T-1 Line: A high-speed digital connection capable of transmitting data at a rate of approximately 1.5 million bits per second. A T1 line is typically used by small and medium-sized companies with heavy network traffic. It is large enough to send and receive very large text files, graphics, sounds, and databases instantaneously, and is the fastest speed commonly used to connect networks to the Internet. Sometimes referred to as a leased line, a T1 is basically too large and too expensive for individual home use.

T-3 Line: A super high-speed connection capable of transmitting data at a rate of 45 million bits per second. This represents a bandwidth equal to about 672 regular voice-grade telephone lines, which is wide enough to transmit full-motion real-time video, and very large databases over a busy network. A T3 line is typically installed as a major networking artery for large corporations and universities with high volume network traffic. For example, the backbones of the major Internet service providers are comprised of T3 lines.

TCP/IP: Stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. This is the language governing communications between all computers on the Internet. TCP/IP is a set of instructions that dictates how packets of information are sent across multiple networks. Also included is a built-in error-checking capability to ensure that data packets arrive at their final destination in the proper order.

IP, or Internet Protocol, is the specification that determines where packets are routed to, based on their destination address. TCP, or Transmission Control Protocol, makes sure that the packets arrive correctly at their destination address. If TCP determines that a packet was not received, it will try to resend the packet until it is received properly.

Telnet: A software program that allows you to log in to other remote computers on the Internet to which you have access. Once you are logged into the remote system, you can download files, engage in conferencing, and perform the same commands as if you were directly connected by computer. You need an Internet account to be able to use a telnet program.

Unique users: The number of different users who access a Web site or page during a given period. To measure this, Web sites often employ a user registration system.

UNIX: UNIX is the trademarked name of the multi-user, multi-tasking, time-sharing operating system developed at AT&Tās Bell Labs in 1969. Many web sites are maintained on UNIX systems. While technically the name UNIX refers to only a few trademark-licensed versions, it is often used to refer to the many versions currently available on the market. The differences to the user are slight.

UNIX was originally designed on a "spare" minicomputer, to allow some folks to have a quick time-sharing system to simplify their documentation procedures. The moniker UNIX was given to it by the somewhat sarcastic users of the huge mainframes prevalent in those days -- pointing out that they considered it to be a somewhat underpowered operating system.

AT&T commercially released UNIX in the early 1970ās. By the late '70s, the University of California, Berkeley had developed its own version, called BSD (for Berkeley Software Distribution), which it offered for free to other colleges and universities

Because it could run on many different computer platforms, it quickly became the platform of choice for many researchers and students. Since networking and e-mail are both integral to UNIX, it was easy for two or more UNIX computers to "talk" to each other. That is why by the late 1980ās, UNIX ran on almost every machine on the Internet. In fact, the Internet's protocols were developed on UNIX machines, for UNIX machines. For example, Usenet, the loose confederation of computers that exchanges newsgroups and electronic mail by passing messages back and forth, was based almost exclusively on UNIX machines.

UNIX now runs on every hardware platform from PC and Macintosh to high- performance graphical workstations to multimillion dollar supercomputers. The big difference between versions and platforms is that the more expensive platforms run faster or support more simultaneous users.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): An acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. URL is the address for a resource or site (usually a directory or file) on the World Wide Web and the convention that web browsers use for locating files and other remote services.

Usenet: Usenet refers to the collection of newsgroups (sometimes called the Big Eight hierarchies) and a set of agreed-upon rules for distributing and maintaining them. More than 13,000 newsgroups exist around the world and the majority of them are a part of Usenet. However, a fairly large number of alternative newsgroups have emerged outside of Usenet.

Usenet newsgroups are arranged hierarchically first by the name of the group, followed by the name of the subgroups. Each name in the hierarchy is separated by a period. For example, the discussion group about rose gardening is rec.gardens.roses. This means the conversation is in the general grouping of rec. (which stands for recreation), and a subgroup of recreation called gardens. In this particular case, an additional subgroup of gardens has been created for roses. Each additional subgroup in a hierarchy defines how narrow or specialized the discussion topic is. It's not uncommon to find newsgroups with several subgroups.

The Usenet Big Eight hierarchies are:
comp - computer science and related topics
news - information about the newsgroups
rec - hobbies and recreational activities
sci - scientific research and applications
soc - social issues, including politics
talk - debate on controversial topics
misc - anything that doesn't fit in the above categories

Not all newsgroups are part of Usenet. For example, the newsgroups with a prefix of alt. are not part of the core Usenet newsgroups, although they may look just like Usenet newsgroups to the average user. Another example of a non-Usenet newsgroup is the Clarinet news feed, which is a commercial information service that also looks like any other newsgroup to the end-user.

System administrators decide which newsgroups will be carried on their systems. Making newsgroups available to their users means dedicating hard-drive space for storage, so decisions have to be made about the allocation of those resources. Many administrators will not carry the "alt." groups. Some even refuse to carry any group with the word "sex" in the name. You have to check with your provider to find out what newsgroups they carry.

Visitor: An individual who interacts with a Web site. Several methods are being used to identify visitors.

Visits: A series of page requests by a visitor on a given site within a specified period, usually 30 minutes. Visits usually break down into the number of pages requested per visit per unique user. That way you know who visits your site, how often they come and how long they stay.

VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language): VRML is an open, platform-independent file format for 3-D graphics on the Web. It encodes computer-generated graphics in a way that makes them easily transported across the network. VRML requires a special web browser to display these graphics which simulate virtual reality 3-D "environments" or "worlds" through which the user can move and interact with objects. These 3-D "worlds" can contain objects that link to documents, other objects, or other 3-D worlds.

Webmaster: A person in charge of maintaining a web site. This can include writing HTML files, setting up more complex programs, and responding to e-mail. Many sites encourage you to mail comments and questions about the site's web pages to the web master.

Web Page: A web page is a document created with HTML (HyperText Markup Language) that is part of a group of hypertext documents or resources available on the World Wide Web. Collectively, these documents and resources form what is known as a web site.

You can read HTML documents that reside somewhere on the Internet or on your local hard drive with a piece of software called a web browser. Web browsers read HTML documents and display them as formatted presentations, with any associated graphics, sound, and video, on a computer screen.

Web pages can contain hypertext links to other places within the same document, to other documents at the same web site, or to documents at other web sites. They also can contain fill-in forms, photos, large clickable images (image maps), sounds, and videos for downloading.

Web Site: The collection of network services, primarily HTML documents, that are linked together and that exist on the Web at a particular server. Exploring a web site usually begins with the home page, which may lead you to more information about that site. A single server may support multiple web sites.

World Wide Web: The exact definition for the World Wide Web (popularly known as the Web) varies, depending on whom you ask. Three common descriptions are:

  • 1.A collection of resources (Gopher, FTP, http, telnet, Usenet, WAIS and others) which can be accessed via a web browser.

  • 2.A collection of hypertext files available on web servers.

  • 3.A set of specifications (protocols) that allows the transmission of web pages over the Internet.

You can think of the Web as a worldwide collection of text and multimedia files and other network services interconnected via a system of hypertext documents. HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) was created in 1990, at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, as a means for sharing scientific data internationally, instantly, and inexpensively. With hypertext a word or phrase can contain a link to other text. To achieve this they developed a programming language called HTML, that allows you to easily link you to other pages or network services on the Web.

If you encounter a page with a word that is highlighted in some way (usually in a different color and underlined), you can click on that word and "go to" the page or resource to which connects. Of course, you are not actually "going" anywhere when you do this, but rather, you are summoning the file or resource that the link points to. This non-linear, non-hierarchical method of accessing information was a breakthrough in information sharing and quickly became the major source of traffic on the Internet.

The basic elements of the World Wide Web are:

  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) - the set of standards used by computers to communicate and share files with each other.

  • URL's (Uniform Resource Locator) - the "address" of a resource (file or diretory) on the Web.

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) - the programming "tags" added to text documents that turn them into hypertext documents.

The World Wide Web Consortium at CERN continues to be the premier source of information about the Web. For more background information link to the history of CERN involvement in the Web and the Internet.