Information Exploration and Retrieval:
A Brief Introduction to the Internet
North Carolina State University
Department of Statistics
Compiled from several network sources by
Table of Contents
The Internet - what is it? We certainly see and hear allusions to
this vague and vast term seemingly daily. Is it going to be the basis for
the "information highway"? Perhaps. Many basic information exploration
and retrieval tools are already available to virtually all computer
The Internet is broad and vast not only in geographic area but also
in the tools available to users. New users joining the Internet
community usually have the same questions: How do I get connected? Once
I am connected, what can I do?
This manual attempts to answer several such questions. Beginners
should scan the whole document first to get a conceptualization of the
exciting power of the Internet. Also, an overall view of the Internet is
needed since many of the information browsing tools work jointly to
perform a specific task. After that? Buckle up and try it!!
Loosely defined, a network is a set of computers using the same
protocol to communicate among themselves. In a general sense, a protocol
is the set of rules used in communicating.
The Internet is a large collection of networks, all of which run the
same protocol (TCP/IP). The Internet started with the ARPANET, but now
includes such networks as NSFNET and NYSERnet. There are other major
networks, such as BITNET and DECnet, that are not based on the same
protocol and are thus not really part of the Internet. However, users
on these networks still may have some access to the Internet: Gateways
are established to allow for inter-network communications. Gateways are
computers that physically link the various networks and translate the
protocols among them. Gateways are usually not noticeable the people who
Once on the Internet, you have access to
- all the resources on
your own Internet host,
- on any other Internet host on which you have
an account, and
- on any other Internet host that offers publicly
The Internet gives you the ability to move
information between these hosts via file transfers (generically known as
ftp-ing). Once you are logged into one host, you can use the Internet
to open a connection to another, login, and use its services
interactively (this is known as telnet). In addition, you can send
electronic mail to users at any Internet site and to users on many
There are various other services you can use. For example, some
hosts provide access to specialized databases or to archives of
information. The Internet Resource Guide provides information regarding
some of these sites. The guide is published by the NSF Network Service
Center (NNSC) and is continuously updated.
The files which make up the Guide
may be obtained through electronic
mail by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
individual files, include the FILE command in the message body. Some
The LS (or DIR) command may also be used to get a directory listing of
the Guide. Use the following command in the message body:
The Resource Guide is also available via anonymous FTP to ds.internic.net.
The /resource-guide/overview file is a good place to start.
Military, governmental, and educational institutions usually have
full access to the network. Recently, commercial vendors have begun
offering connections for companies and persons not affiliated with such
If you just have a personal computer and a modem, you can obtain a
list of internet access providers to whom you may connect via modem. The
list is called PDIAL and may be retrieved by sending e-mail to:
with this message:
There is also a web site with a PDIAL
For more introductory information, see the
PDIAL FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions.
O'Reilly and Associates has a mail server that provides a list of
Internet Access providers who offer dedicated line connections (a
direct link from your computer to the Internet).
Send e-mail to:
email@example.com with an empty message body.
By using electronic mail (abbreviated as e-mail), you are able to
send messages or entire files at your convenience to anyone, anywhere on
the network. Just as with postal mail, the receiver need not be present
to receive the message and may in turn read it at his/her convenience.
One great difference between postal and electronic mail is that messages
delivered via the latter often arrive within minutes, regardless of the
distance that must be travelled.
To send a message, you must know the addresses of persons to whom
you wish to send e-mail. E-mail addresses can be quite complex. There
are a number of address directories on the Internet; however, all of
them are far from complete. Generally, it is still necessary to ask the
person for his or her e-mail address.
E-mail on the Internet uses addresses of the form user@location.
user is generally the account name of the mail recipient. location
identifies the name and place of the computer housing the recipient's
account. The '@' merely acts as a separator between these two
Much information regarding who sent the electronic mail can be
gleaned from breaking down location into its one or more components. The
parts of location are separated by '.' (periods). The rightmost part is
always the domain. Networks outside the United States are identified by
two-letter codes: CA for Canada, ES for Spain, TW for Taiwan, UK for the
United Kingdom, and so forth. Generally speaking, networks within the
United States are still identified by the nature of their owners: COM
for commercial companies, EDU for educational institutions, GOV for
government facilities, MIL for military sites, NET for network support
groups, and ORG for other miscellaneous organizations. It is becoming
more common, though, to see the .US domain in addresses for institutions
in the United States.
The next rightmost part of location is the subdomain. The subdomain
usually identifies the organization (company, military base, university)
where the sender is located. Sometimes a second subdomain is added to
distinguish different areas of the same organization.
For more information: How
to Find People's Email Addresses
You see a strange looking address?
There are several networks accessible via e-mail from the Internet,
but many of these networks do not use the same addressing conventions
the Internet does. Often you must route e-mail to these networks
through specific gateways as well, thus further complicating the
address. Messages that go through several gateways often include a
"bang" (!), a percent sign (%), or double colons (::), suffixed to the
person's user id.
Additional reading on electronic mail:
Frey, D. & Adams, R. (1990) A Directory of electronic mail
addressing and networks. Sabastopol, CA: O'Reilly Associates.
A mailing list is really nothing more than a nickname for multiple
users: Electronic mail directed to the list is sent to all those users.
Mailing lists are usually created to discuss specific topics. Anybody
interested in that topic, may (usually) join that list. Some mailing
lists have membership restrictions, others have message content
restrictions, and still others are moderated.
There is a "list-of-lists" file available on the host
that lists most of the major mailing lists, describes
their primary topics, and explains how to subscribe to them. The file
is available for anonymous ftp in the netinfo directory under the name
interest-groups (that is, the path is: netinfo/interest-groups). It
can also be obtained via electronic mail.
Send a message to
with the body of the message reading,
(or for a directory of files:
and the file (a large one!) will be returned in moderate size pieces
via electronic mail.
Mailing lists are sometimes called LISTSERV or as electronic
discussion groups. LISTSERV stands for "list server". Originally,
LISTSERV was a mailing-list programmed to make group communication
easier. Similar programs now exist on the Internet, and although they
are not technically the same, most people speak of "listserv lists" as a
People with a common interest (e.g. network protocols, issues
related to handicapped people in education, system administration
problems) may join or subscribe (although there is no exchange of money)
to a list. Merely send the following e-mail message to the host computer
(it "owns" the list):
subscribe list-name Your Full Name
where list-name is the name of the desired electronic discussion
Messages sent to the list are automatically distributed to all
subscribers. Any member can reply to the message and this reply will in
turn be distributed to every one else in the group. The electronic
conversation continues as long as anyone is interested in discussing the
subject at hand. Then someone else raises a new issue and the process
Another tool available to Internet users is electronic file transfer
via a facility generically know as FTP (which stands for file transfer
protocol). Network software packages generally include such software in
the distribution. It should be noted, however, that only the "client"
side of the software is generally available. That is, the software to
contact a host computer and subsequently send or receive files. This is
usually sufficient for most users. Your network software documentation
should outline the commands available to you within the ftp facility. If
you wish to set up a host computer for other Internet users to contact
for file transfers, you will have to locate the "server" side of an FTP
Generic FTP allows authorized users to contact a host machine and
perform file transfers. An authorized user generally already has an
account on the host machine.
Anonymous FTP allows guest users to have restricted access to many
information archives on the network. To allow this wider class of
Internet users to perform file transfers, system administrators
authorize a generic anonymous userid. Users merely enter that name when
prompted for user-id and are allowed to access certain disk directories
on the host computer. At the password prompt, reply with your electronic
To access an anonymous ftp site you must know the address of the
site. For example, nic.ddn.mil, is the address of the Network
Information Center of the Dept. of Defense Network. It is generally a
good idea to list the contents of possible directories before
transferring a file via anonymous ftp. Look for files named readme or
index first. Names and locations of directories and files may change
over time. By checking your listing of possible directories and files,
you increase your chances of successfully transferring a file.
The procedure for accessing an anonymous ftp site follows:
Step by Step Explanation
- type: ftp nic.ddn.mil
- Connected to nic.ddn.mil
- 220 NIC.DDN.MIL FTP Server Process at Tue 30-Jul-91
- Name (nic.ddn.mil:msmith) : anonymous
- Password (nic.ddn.mil:anonymous) :---------
- 331 ANONYMOUS user ok, send real ident as password.
- 230 User ANONYMOUS logged in at Tue 30-Jul-91
- at the Unix prompt, user ftp's to nic.ddn.mil
- user is connected to ftp site
- site notes the time of user login
- user login as anonymous
- user types address (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) which does not appear
- system acknowledges user login and notes time
- ftp prompt
To transfer a file, you may have to change directories to the
directory that your file is located in. It is a good idea to list the
contents of the directory before attempting to transfer a file.
Unix Commands for Retrieving Files
dir) command lists the contents of the active
cd directory name command enables the user to change directories (move
up or down the hierarchy)
cd .. command allows the user to return
to the previous directory.
To transfer a document:
To view the document while still connected to the ftp site:
get filename |more
For more information: FTP
There are literally thousands of interesting programs, datasets, and
documents freely available on the Internet. Two tools to aid in the
location of such interesting information are archie and wais.
The archie service is a collection of resource discovery tools that
together provide an electronic directory service for locating
information in an Internet environment. Originally created to track the
contents of anonymous ftp archive sites, the archie service is now being
expanded to include a variety of other online directories and resource
Users can access an archie server either through interactive
sessions (provided they have a direct Internet connection) or through
queries sent via electronic mail messages (provided they can at least
gateway electronic mail messages onto the Internet).
Interactive access to archie may be through a conventional telnet
session to a machine running an archie server or through an archie
The archie server automatically updates the listing information from
each site about once a month, ensuring users that the information they
receive is reasonably timely.
Users with direct Internet connectivity can try out an interactive
archie server using the basic "telnet" command (available at most
sites). To try this, telnet to the host archie.mcgill.ca and login as
user archie (no password is needed). A banner message giving latest
developments and information on the archie project will be displayed and
then the command prompt will appear. First-time users should try the
help command to get started.
Users with only email connectivity to the Internet should send a
message to email@example.com, with the single word help in
either the subject line or body of the message. You should receive back
an email message explaining how to use the email archie server, along
with details of an email based ftp server operated by Digital Equipment
Corporation that will perform ftp transfers through email requests.
Documentation for the archie system is still limited, but what there
is is also available for anonymous ftp from the same host
(archie.mcgill.ca) under the directory bunyip-docs/archie.whatis.
The second information tool, WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers),
not only locates files based upon their names (as archie does), but also
by knowing what is in the files. Wide Area Information Servers,
pronounced "wayz," allow you to search through archives of files for
which indexes exist. The program searches the text itself, not just the
file name, for your desired term. The results are then presented in a
weighted list, with those judged "best" listed first, and others listed
in decreasing order of relevance. You may then select items you want to
see in full, and the system will retrieve them for you.
The major drawback is that WAIS can search only those documents that
have been specially formatted to make them compatible to the WAIS
software. Unfortunately, this includes only a small percentage of the
files available on the Internet.
How Can I Find Out More About Wais? There is a mailing list that has
weekly postings on progress and new releases; to subscribe send an
email note to
firstname.lastname@example.org the word 'help' in
the body of the message.
For more information:
A basic Internet service is the provision of interactive login to a
remote host. Telnet is both a protocol and a program that enables you to
do so. It is the standard TCP/IP remote login protocol. You must know
the Internet (IP) address of the remote host computer before you can
initiate a session with telnet. Many remote hosts require you to have an
account to log in (You must have a user id and a password). However,
some remote hosts do not require that users have accounts (as in the
archie example above). Users can log in with a general user id such as
info or guest (or some other word that is published in guides to the
Internet). Passwords are usually not required.
UseNet is the formal name, and Netnews a common informal name, for a
distributed computer information service that some hosts on the Internet
use. UseNet handles only newsgroups and not mail. It uses a variety of
underlying networks for transport. Netnews can be a valuable tool to
economically transport traffic that would otherwise be sent via mail.
UseNet has no central administration.
Hundreds of forums, called newsgroups, can be found on UseNet. They
differ from LISTSERV mailing lists in that each article is posted only
once, for all to read and reply to, rather than having separate messages
sent individually to each reader. It functions like an electronic
It should be kept in mind that UseNet is a very different entity
from the Internet. The Internet is a wide-ranging network but it is only
one of the various networks carrying UseNet traffic.
To help hold Usenet together, various articles are periodically
posted in newsgroups in the news hierarchy. It is recommended that new
users subscribe to and read the group news.announce.newusers since it
will help to become oriented to UseNet and the Internet.
The following sites have sources to the current newsreader software:
The archie service can be used to locate ftp archives containing
various news software packages.
What is the "FAQ" list?
This list provides answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" that
often appear on various USENET newsgroups. The list is posted
every four to six weeks to the news.announce.newusers group. It
is intended to provide a background for new users learning how to
use the news. The FAQ list provides new users with the answers to
such questions, helping to keep the newsgroups themselves
comparatively free of repetition. Often specific newsgroups will
have and frequently post versions of a FAQ list that are specific
to their topics. These FAQs are themselves treasures of information
on a vast array of topics.
For more information:
A FAQ about FAQ's
With the Internet Gopher you can easily access publicly available
information stored on many of these connected computers. Gopher
combines features of electronic bulletin board services and databases,
allowing you to either browse a hierarchy of documents, or search for
documents that contain certain words or phrases.
You can use gopher to search thousands of sites and millions of
documents without knowing a single Internet address, file name, or
locally idiosyncratic command. You just sniff around "Gopher Space"
like you would browse your local library, using structured menus to
guide you along the way.
Gopher systems are multiplying rapidly, and becoming more
sophisticated. And since they all connect to one another, as well as to
various WAIS and Archie servers, you can explore virtually any part of
the net using a single, relatively simple, interface.
The Internet Gopher software was conceived at the Computer and
Information Services department of the University of Minnesota. Software
developed at the University of Minnesota is freely distributable for
non-commercial purposes. The Internet Gopher works on a number of
platforms and operating systems.
Gopher supports a diverse range of data, all of which can be
accessed by a simple keystroke or click of the mouse. The most basic
information type in gopher is a directory. A directory is simply a list
of documents. Directories allow easy browsing of information since
items can be organized into specific areas.
There are several different special types of directories also. One
special type of directory called a link allows gopher to reference other
gopher directories on a different computer. This allows gopher to
traverse a hierarchy of information residing on multiple machines across
the Internet. These links are transparent: you won't even notice that
you're connecting to another machine.
Gopher also provides for a special kind of directory which allows
document searching. You can specify any number of keywords to a search
item. Only those documents that match the given criteria will show up in
the resulting list.
In addition to directories, items can be "documents". Usually
documents are plain text files. Other types of documents allow for
public telnet connection, "phone book" databases that allow you to
search, and multimedia file formats including images, audio and video
file formats. Images such as weather maps are available. Audio data,
including the presidential debates is available. Movies in Quicktime and
MPEG formats are available. Some Gopher servers will allow you to view
documents in formats other than plain text. Postscript is one of the
most popular formats.
When using Gopher, looking for information located in other
continents is as easy as looking for information residing on a computer
in the next room.
You may want to follow the paths in Gopher from level to level until
you find the data you're looking for (browsing). From the first level,
you can choose a topic, which leads to another level, and another, until
you finally come to an item that looks interesting.
Alternatively, you may want Gopher to do the work for you by using a
search item. For instance, you could select a search item called Search
Recipes. A message prompts you to type in the words you're looking for;
you type salmon. The server searches the text of a collection of items
and lists the ones that have the word salmon in them. You can then
examine these items until you find one that contains a recipe that
strikes your fancy.
If you merely wish to find interesting Internet materials using
gopher, you need only a gopher client program. Most of the software for
the Internet Gopher is available on the machine boombox.micro.umn.edu.
You may retrieve the software using anonymous FTP. Just look within the
/pub/gopher directory for the subdirectory that refers to your specific
computer type. Alternatively, if you cannot locate a gopher client, you
may telnet to any of the public gopher sites listed below and login
using the referenced special user account. Either way, you can be
quickly on your way to gopherland!!
Public Gopher Sites
Hostname Login name
For more information: Gopher
Closely linked to gopher is veronica (Very Easy Rodent-Oriente d
Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives).
Veronica evolved as a solution to the problem of resource discovery
in the rapidly expanding gopher world. Veronica offers a keyword search
of most gopher server menu titles in the entire gopher web. As archie
is to ftp archives, veronica is to gopherspace. A veronica search
produces a menu of gopher items, each of which is a direct pointer to a
gopher data source. Because veronica is accessed through a gopher
client, it is easy to use, and gives access to all types of data
supported by the gopher protocol.
If your local gopher server does not already have a link to
veronica, use gopher to go to the server at gopher.micro.umn.edu. Choose
the menu item "Other Gopher and Information Servers". Choose veronica
from that menu.
In addition to Veronica, GopherMail is a gopher client that uses
electronic mail to interact with the user. It is pretty clumsy to use,
but it works. Messages containing menus and gopher link information are
mailed to users in response to their requests. Users reply to these
messages and indicate which menu items they want. It lets people use
Gopher without requiring them to have an account directly on the
Internet, because it communicates through email messages instead of
direct "live" network connections. Thanks to the GopherMail program,
most of the resources of Gopher are now available to everyone with
email-only access to the Internet.
You can get started by sending mail to email@example.com with any
or no subject and any or no message body. GopherMail will reply by
sending you it's main gopher menu. You then use your email program to
reply to that message, including it in the text of your reply. Mark
which menu options you want to follow-up by putting an X anywhere near
the beginning of the line, before the menu numbers for those options.
From there you can just keep repeating the process, sending replies
back to gopher with the desired items marked with an X.
As technology continues to develop in the area of information
navigation, presentation and retrieval on the Internet, the information
servers present on the Internet continue to refine their goals and
implementation. Recent months have given rise to three important,
interlocking developments on the Internet. These are the World-Wide
Web, HyperText Markup Language, and the Mosaic user interface.
The WWW project, started and driven by CERN (the European Laboratory
for Particle Physics), seeks to build a distributed hypermedia system.
The World-Wide Web is a client/server system, similar to the Gopher
information system, for providing integrated text, graphics, sound, and
video over the Internet. It has the capability, through the use of
HyperText Markup Language (HTML), to link files to one another in a
HTML is a specific document definition specified in Standard
Generalized Markup Language (SGML). The chief power of HTML comes from
its ability to link regions of text and images to another document,
document section, sound or image. These links can also offer an
interactive search of a set of documents.
To access the web, you run a browser program. The browser reads
documents, and can fetch documents from other sources. Information
providers set up hypermedia servers from which browsers can get
These browsers can also access files by FTP, gopher and an ever
increasing range of other methods. The browsers will also permit
searches of documents and databases.
The documents that the browsers display are hypertext documents
(text with pointers to other text). The browsers let you deal with the
pointers in a transparent way -- select the pointer, and you are
presented with the text that is pointed to.
Hypermedia is a superset of hypertext -- it is any medium with
pointers to other media. This means that browsers might display not
simply text files, but images or sound or animations.
WWW software use URLs to locate information. URL stands for "Uniform
Resource Locator". It is a standard for specifying an object on the
Internet, such as a file, picture, video clip, or newsgroup.
URLs look like this:
The first part of the URL before the colon, specifies the access
method. The part of the URL after the colon is interpreted specific to
the access method. In general, two slashes after the colon indicate a
You have two options to access the world-wide web. Either use a
browser that can be telnetted to, or use a browser on your machine.
While WWW, gopher, and Wais all are client-server based, they differ
in terms of their model of data. In gopher, data is either a menu, a
document, an index or a telnet connection. In WAIS, everything is an
index and everything that is returned from the index is a document. In
WWW, everything is a (possibly) hypertext document which may be
In practice, this means that WWW can represent the gopher (a menu is
a list of links, a gopher document is a hypertext document without
links, searches are the same, telnet sessions are the same) and WAIS (a
WAIS index is a searchable page, returning a document with no links)
data models as well as providing extra functionality.
Currently accessible through the web:
- anything served through gopher
- anything served through WAIS
- anything on an FTP site
- anything on Usenet
- anything accessible through telnet
- anything in hytelnet
- anything in hyper-g
- anything in techinfo
- anything in texinfo
- anything in the form of man pages
- sundry hypertext documents
One of the few limitations of the current networked information
systems is that there is no simple way to find out what has changed,
what is new, or even what is out there. As a result, a definitive list
of the web's contents is impossible at this moment.
For more information: The World Wide Web
Mosaic (The Web via a mouse-based browser)
Building on the Web's initial structures, NCSA Mosaic uses a
client/server model for information distribution. A server sits on a
machine at an Internet site answering queries sent by NCSA Mosaic
clients, which may be located anywhere on the Internet. To users, the
client looks like any other application on their machine, only this one
has immediate access to information all over the world. The pieces of
information sent from servers to clients are known simply as documents,
which may contain plain text, formatted text, graphics, sound, and other
The NCSA Mosaic system is an integrated set of browsers, viewers,
servers, gateways, and filters that allow you to approach the Internet
as one consistent information source. At the simplest level, the NCSA
Mosaic clients provide navigation and document viewing capabilities for
browsing the information universe of the Internet. As your interest,
needs, and skills develop, the configurable addition of external viewers
allows easy and straightforward expansion to handle virtually any
specific type of data. This flexibility allows you to keep pace with the
quickly evolving world of multimedia.
The NCSA Mosaic system is a completely open framework; you can enter
at your most comfortable level, progress through the use of various
viewers, learn to create your own hypertext documents, set up your own
server, engage in multimedia collaboration with colleagues in distant
locales, develop scripts for specialized information filtering and
presentation, and develop gateways to unique information resources and
integrate them into the NCSA Mosaic information space for other users.
In short, the possibilities are endless; you can think of NCSA Mosaic
and the Web as allowing the progressive customization of your own
information space, and that of your group.
NCSA Mosaic is implemented for three types of platforms:
- X Window System
- Microsoft Windows
Each implementation takes advantage of the strengths of its
respective platform, but they have all been implemented to preserve as
much cross-system compatibility as possible. All three clients can be
downloaded for personal use from NCSA's anonymous FTP server.
To use NCSA Mosaic as an Internet browser, the system on which it is
installed must be fully connected to the Internet. This is because the
first thing NCSA Mosaic usually does when you run it is download one of
the NCSA Mosaic Home Pages (the startup document) from an NCSA server.
If NCSA Mosaic executes but you get an error message instead of a home
page, the problem is most likely in your Internet connection; you will
have to get that connection established before you can use NCSA Mosaic
to navigate the Internet.
Once you have successfully installed NCSA Mosaic, you should spend
some time becoming familiar with the interface. The NCSA Mosaic Demo
Document, available via a hyperlink in the NCSA Mosaic Home Page or via
a menu selection, provides an overview of NCSA Mosaic's capabilities
with hyperlinks to a wide variety of information sources. As you browse
the information universe, you can access material through other menu
selections and other home pages.
Lynx (The Web via a text-based browser)
Lynx is a general-purpose distributed information browser and is
part of the World Wide Web project. Lynx was designed to support a
Campus Wide Information System (CWIS), but can be used for many other
When started, Lynx is given a local path specifying a file
containing text to be displayed, or a Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
that specifies a resource to be displayed (usually the name of a file
containing text information), the type of server that will provide the
resource, and the Internet address of the system on which the specified
server is running.
When a hypertext document is being displayed, links appear different
from standard text, and users press the up- or down-arrows to "select" a
particular link. Selected links show up as highlighted text, and users
press Return or the right arrow when a link is highlighted to "follow"
the selected link. When the link is followed Lynx finds the associated
file and displays it on the screen in place of the first file.
Lynx is available for most flavors of Unix and VMS. Lynx can
currently be obtained by anonymous ftp from: ftp2.cc.ukans.edu in the
A listserv list has been created for information about Lynx and for
notification of updates.
You may sign-up by sending a message with
subscribe lynx-dev your name
as the only line in the message to
In many electronic mail messages, it is sometimes useful to indicate
that part of a message is meant in jest. It is also sometimes useful to
communicate emotion which simple words do not readily convey. To
provide these nuances, a collection of "smiley faces" has evolved. If
you turn your head sideways to the left, :-) appears as a smiling
face. Some of the more common faces are:
:-) smile :-( frown
:) also a smile ;-) wink
:-D laughing 8-) wide-eyed
:-} grin :-X close mouthed
:- smirk :-o oh, no!
What do "btw", "fyi", "imho", "wrt", and "rtfm" mean?
Often common expressions are abbreviated in informal network
postings. These abbreviations stand for "by the way", "for your
information", "in my humble [or honest opinion", "with respect to", and
"read the fine manual".
As with any profession, computers have a particular terminology
all their own. Below is a condensed glossary to assist in making
some sense of the Internet world.
There are two separate uses of this term in internet
networking: "electronic mail address" and "internet
address". An electronic mail address is the string
of characters that you must give an electronic mail
program to direct a message to a particular person.
See "internet address" for its definition.
Advanced Research Projects Agency
The former name of what is now called DARPA.
Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
A pioneering long haul network funded by ARPA. It
served as the basis for early networking research as
well as a central backbone during the development of
the Internet. The ARPANET consisted of individual
packet switching computers interconnected by leased lines.
BITNET: Because It's Time Network
BITNET has about 2,500 host computers, primarily at universities, in many countries. It is managed by EDUCOM, which provides administrative support and information services. There are three main constituents of the network: BITNET in the United States and Mexico, NETNORTH in Canada, and EARN in Europe. There are also AsiaNet, in Japan, and connections in South America. See CREN.
The Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
BITNET and CSNET have recently merged to form CREN.
Computer + Science Network
A large data communications network for institutions doing
research in computer science. It uses several different
protocols including some of its own. CSNET sites include
universities, research laboratories, and commercial
companies. See CREN.
U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
The government agency that funded the ARPANET and later
started the Internet.
The Domain Name System is a mechanism used in
the Internet for translating names of host computers
into addresses. The DNS also allows host computers
not directly on the Internet to have registered
names in the same style, but returns the electronic
mail gateway which accesses the non-Internet network
instead of an IP address.
dot address: (dotted address notation)
Dot address refers to the common notation for Internet
addresses of the form A.B.C.D; where each letter represents,
in decimal, one byte of the four byte IP address.
European Academic Research Network
A network standard for the hardware and data link levels.
There are two types of Ethernet: Digital/Intel/Xerox (DIX)
and IEEE 802.3.
Fiber Distributed Data Interface
FDDI is a high-speed (100Mb) token ring LAN.
FTP: File Transfer Protocol
The Internet standard high-level protocol for
transferring files from one computer to another.
The part of an internet address that designates which
node on the (sub)network is being addressed.
Any connection of two or more local or wide-area networks.
The global collection of interconnected local, mid-level and
wide-area networks which use IP as the network layer
An assigned number which identifies a host in an internet.
It has two or three parts: network number, optional subnet
number, and host number.
IP: Internet Protocol
The network layer protocol for the Internet. It is a packet
switching, datagram protocol.
The part of an internet address which designates the
network to which the addressed node belongs.
NSFNET: National Science Foundation Network
The NSFNET is a highspeed "network of networks" which is
hierarchical in nature. At the highest level is a
backbone network currently comprising 16 nodes connected
to a 45Mbps facility which spans the continental United
States. Attached to that are mid-level networks and
attached to the mid-levels are campus and local
networks. NSFNET also has connections out of the U.S.
to Canada, Mexico, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. The
NSFNET is part of the Internet.
The unit of data sent across a packet switching network.
The term is used loosely. While some Internet
literature uses it to refer specifically to data sent
across a physical network, other literature views
the Internet as a packet switching network
and describes IP datagrams as packets.
PPP: Point-to-Point Protocol
The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) provides a method for
transmitting datagrams over serial point-to-point links (e.g.,
A formal description of message formats and the rules
two computers must follow to exchange those messages.
A special-purpose dedicated computer that attaches to
two or more networks and routes packets from one
network to the other. In particular, an Internet
router forwards IP datagrams among the networks it
connects. Gateways route packets to other
gateways until they can be delivered to the final
destination directly across one physical network.
A portion of a network, which may be a physically independent
network, which shares a network address with other portions
of the network and is distinguished by a subnet number. A
subnet is to a network what a network is to an internet.
A term for a digital carrier facility used to transmit a
DS-1 formatted digital signal at 1.544 megabits per second.
A term for a digital carrier facility used to transmit a DS-3
formatted digital signal at 44.746 megabits per second.
TCP: Transmission Control Protocol
A transport layer protocol for the Internet. It is a
connection oriented, stream protocol.
TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
This is a common shorthand which refers to the suite
of application and transport protocols which run over IP.
The Internet standard protocol for remote terminal
connection service. TELNET allows a user at one site
to interact with a remote timesharing system at
another site as if the user's terminal was connected
directly to the remote computer.
An operating system developed by Bell Laboratories that
supports multiuser and multitasking operations.
UUCP: UNIX-to-UNIX Copy Program
A protocol used for communication between consenting
An Internet program which allows users to query a database of
people and other Internet entities, such as domains,
networks, and hosts, kept at the DDN NIC. The information for
people shows a person's company name, address, phone number
and email address.
A: Network Guides -- Books
This is a highly selective list. Books on "How to Use the
Information Highway" are multiplying rapidly, and the end is not in
sight. Each title listed below has been cited by at least one reviewer
as among the best now available.
1994 The Online User's Encyclopedia: Bulletin Boards and
Beyond. Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA.
Praised by Jim Milles as "a remarkably useful and
comprehensive work, covering everything from the basics of
computer communication, to using local bulletin boards, to the
intricacies of the Internet."
Dern, Daniel P.
1994 The Internet Guide for New Users. McGraw-Hill: NY.
Generally regarded as one of the best books available.
Includes a good survey of the history of the Internet, as well
as just enough Unix to get you by. "For all Internauts," says
Jean Armour Polly.
Hahn, Harley, and Rick Stout
1994 The Internet Complete Reference. Osborne/McGraw-
Widely acclaimed as the best book written about the Internet
so far. Witty, complete (800+ pages), easy to read.
Kehoe, Brendan P.
1994 Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's Guide
to the Internet, 3rd edition. Prentice-Hall:
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
One of the earliest and most popular guides. Short, but
packed with information.
NOTE: An electronic version of the first edition is widely
available from many network sites.
Kochmer, Jonathan, and NorthWestNet
1993 The Internet Passport: NorthWestNet's Guide to Our
World Online. NorthWestNet: 15400 SE 30th Place,
Suite 202, Bellvue, WA, 98007.
One of the most complete guides, covering areas not included
in others. Strong in K-12 computing and supercomputing.
1992 The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog. O'Reilly
& Associates: 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol
CA, 95472. [E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Another of the early guides. Although many of the resources
are out of date, it is still essential reading.
LaQuey, Tracey, and Jeanne C. Ryder
1993 The Internet Companion: A Beginner's Guide to Global
Networking. Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA.
Milles considers this the best guide for the beginner, or even
the "pre-beginner" who has not yet signed on to the Internet.
Tennant, Roy, John Ober, and Anne G. Lipow
1992 Crossing the Internet Threshold. Library Solutions
Institute, 2137 Oregon St., Berkeley CA 94705.
Intended as a teaching manual, it contains excellent "real
world" examples and handy one-page fact sheets.
B: Network Guides -- FTP-able Documents
Electronic Internet guides are multiplying almost as rapidly as
printed manuals. The dilemma, of course, is that you cannot fetch a
guide on "how to use the 'Net" until you have learned at least a little
about how to use the 'Net.
The full filenames are given, in the format
You can get the file by using the full path name (including the
slashes) or you can change directories one level at a time and browse
along the way. If you see a related README file you should get and read
it before you try to get the full file.
Note that almost all of these sites contain other documents. You
may find the same items in several places. But not all will be the same
versions, so remember check the date of anything you fetch.
The dates given are the latest of which I am aware. Updates could
appear at any time.
Ciolek, T. Matthew. Internet Voyager: Social Scientist's Guidebook
to AARNET/INTERNET Online Information Services. (March 1993)
FTP: coombs.anu.edu.au -- 188.8.131.52
December, John. Information Sources: The Internet and Computer-
Mediated Communication. (January 1994)
FTP: ftp.rpi.edu -- 184.108.40.206
Gaffin, Adam. Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet. (December 1993)
FTP: ftp.eff.org -- 220.127.116.11
Hancock, Lee. Internet/Bitnet Health Sciences Resources.
(September 1993, updated 4-5 time a year)
FTP: ftp.sura.net -- 18.104.22.168
where xx-xx = latest release date
Harris, Judi, and the students of TEB 8000. Internet Resources
Directory, Part 3: File Archives (FTP Sites) of Interest to
Educators. (August 1993)
FTP: tcet.unt.edu -- 22.214.171.124
Maas, Robert Elton. MaasInfo.TopIndex: Toplevel Index to All
Major InterNet Indexes. (April 1993)
FTP: niord.shsu.edu -- 126.96.36.199
Martin, Jerry. There's Gold in them thar Networks!, or,
Searching for Treasure in all the Wrong Places, (Network
Working Group RFC 1402). (January 1993)
FTP: nis.nsf.net -- 188.8.131.52
Strangelove, Michael. The Electric Mystic's Guide to the
Internet: A Complete Directory of Networked Electronic
Documents, Online Conferences, Serials, Software, and Archives
Relevant to Religious Studies. (February 1993)
FTP: panda1.uottawa.ca -- 184.108.40.206
NOTE: Volume 2 has not yet appeared
NOTE: Also via listserv@uottawa as MYSTICS V1-TXT
SURAnet. Information Available on the Internet: A Guide to
Selected Sources. (Updated weekly; posted 9 am Mondays).
FTP: ftp.sura.net -- 220.127.116.11
NOTE: Before you attempt to retrieve the guide, get and
read the file 00-README FIRST.
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