Welcome, readers! As you strive to make sense of the Internet and the World Wide Web, these 30 terms are bound to be very helpful.
1. The Web vs. the Internet
The Internet is a vast 'interconnection of computer networks' that spans the globe. It is comprised of millions of computing devices that trade volumes of information. Desktop computers, mainframes, GPS units, cell phones, car alarms, video game consoles, and even soda pop machines are connected to the Net.
The Internet started in the late 1960's as an American military project, and has since evolved into a massive public spiderweb. No single organization owns or controls the Internet. The Net has grown into a spectacular mishmash of non-profit, private sector, government, and entrepreneurial broadcasters.
The Internet houses many layers of information, with each layer dedicated to a different kind of documentation. These different layers are called 'protocols'. The most popular protocols are the World Wide Web, FTP, Telnet, Gopherspace, instant messaging, and email.
The World Wide Web, or 'Web' for short, is the most popular portion of the Internet. The Web is viewed through web browser software.
2. http and https
http is a technical acronym that means 'hypertext transfer protocol', the language of web pages. When a web page has this prefix, then your links, text, and pictures should work in your web browser.
https is 'hypertext transfer protocol SECURED'. This means that the web page has a special layer of encryption added to hide your personal information and passwords. Whenever you log into your online bank or your web email account, you should see https at the front of the page address.
:// is the strange expression for 'this is a computer protocol'. We add these 3 characters in a Web address to denote which set of computer lanaguage rules affect the document you are viewing.
A browser is a free software package that lets you view web pages, graphics, and most online content. Browser software is specifically designed to convert HTML and XML into readable documents.
The most popular web browsers in 2013 are: Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari.
4. HTML and XML
Hypertext Markup Language is the programmatic language that web pages are based on. HTML commands your web browser to display text and graphics in orderly fashion. HTML uses commands called 'HTML tags' that look like the following:
- <a href="www.about.com"></a>
XML is eXtensible Markup Language, a cousin to HTML. XML focuses on cataloging and databasing the text content of a web page. XML commands look like the following:
XHTML is a combination of HTML and XML.
URL's, or 'uniform resource locators', are the web browser addresses of internet pages and files. A URL works together with IP addresses to help us name, locate, and bookmark specific pages and files for our web browsers.
URL's commonly use three parts to address a page or file: the protocol (which is the portion ending in '//:'); the host computer (which sometimes ends in .com); and the filename/pagename itself. For example:
6. IP Address
Your computer's 'internet protocol' address is a four-part or eight-part electronic serial number. An IP address can look something like '184.108.40.206' or like '21DA:D3:0:2F3B:2AA:FF:FE28:9C5A', complete with dot or colon separators. Every computer, cell phone, and device that accesses the Internet is assigned at least one IP address for tracking purposes. Wherever you browse, whenever you send an email or instant message, and whenever you download a file, your IP address acts like a type of automobile licence plate to enforce accountability and traceability.
Read more about IP Version 6 addresses here...
Email (formerly spelled e-mail with a hyphen) is electronic mail. It is the sending and receiving of typewritten messages from one screen to another. Email is usually handled by a webmail service (e.g. Gmail or Yahoomail), or an installed software package (e.g. Microsoft Outlook).
Email has many cousins: text messaging, instant messaging, live chat, videomail (v-mail), Google Waving.
8. Blogs and Blogging
A blog ('web log') is a modern online writer's column. Amateur and professional writers publish their blogs on most every kind of topic: their hobby interest in paintball and tennis, their opinions on health care, their commentaries on celebrity gossip, photo blogs of favorite pictures, tech tips on using Microsoft Office. Absolutely anyone can start a blog, and some people actually make reasonable incomes by selling advertising on their blog pages.
Web logs are usually arranged chronologically, and with less formality than a full website. Blogs vary in quality from very amateurish to very professional. It costs nothing to start your own personal blog.
9. Social Media and Social Bookmarking
Social media is the broad term for any online tool that enables users to interact with thousands of other users. Instant messaging and chatting are common forms of social media, as are blogs with comments, discussion forums, video-sharing and photo-sharing websites. Facebook.com and MySpace.com are very large social media sites, as are YouTube.com and Digg.com.
Social bookmarking is a the specific form of social media. Social bookmarking is where users interact by recommending websites to each other ('tagging sites').
ISP is Internet Service Provider. That is the private company or government organization that plugs you into the vast Internet around the world. Your ISP will offer varying services for varying prices: web page access, email, hosting your own web page, hosting your own blog, and so on. ISP's will also offer various Internet connection speeds for a monthly fee. (e.g. ultra high speed Internet vs economy Internet).
Today, you will also hear about WISP's, which are Wireless Internet Service Providers. They cater to laptop users who travel regularly.