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Glossary of terms


These are the most common internet-related terms in use along with their explanations


Anonymous FTP (Anonymous File Transfer Protocol)
The procedure of connecting to a remote computer, as an anonymous or guest user, in order to transfer public files back to your local computer. (See also: FTP and Protocols)

A system for locating information in files and directories which are publically available through anonymous FTP. A program which automatically polls Internet FTP sites to determine what directories exist and their actual contents. A searchable index results.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
The acronym is pronounced "ask-ee." ASCII is an international standard in which numbers, letters, punctuation marks, symbols and control codes are assigned numbers from 0 to 27. Easily transferred over networks, ASCII is a plain, unadorned text without style or font specifications.

Backbone Network
A network that connects other networks.

BBS (Bulletin Board System)
An acronym for Bulletin Board System, a computer equipped with software and telecommunications links that allow it to act as an information host for remote computer systems. Also called electronic bulletin board.

Term used to describe a computer file whose data is encoded in binary format. The contents of a binary file are not text-based.

BITNET (Because It's Time Network)
A cooperative computer network interconnecting over 2,300 academic and research institutions in 32 countries. Originally based on IBM's RSCS networking protocol, BITNET supports mail, mailing lists, and file transfer. Now merging with CSNET and running the RSCS protocol over TCP/IP protocol (BITNET II), the network will be called Computer Research and Education Network (CREN).

A program which sends requests for information across the Internet and displays the information when it is received. See also Web client program.

The European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland, where the World Wide Web was first developed.

A computer that has access to services over a computer network. The computer providing the services is a server.

Client-Server Architecture
An information-passing scheme that works as follows: a client program, such as Netscape, sends a request to a server. The server takes the request, disconnects from the client and processes the request. When the request is processed, the server reconnects to the client program and the information is transferred to the client. This architecture differs from traditional Internet databases where the client connects to the server and runs the program from the remote site.

Client-Server Interface
A program that provides an interface to remote programs (called clients), most commonly across a network, in order to provide these clients (a program on your computer) with access to some information service such as databases, printing, etc. In general, the clients act on behalf of a human user.

CREN (Computer Research and Education Network)
Computer Research and Education Network is the new name for the merged computer networks, BITNET and Computer Science Network (CSNET). It supports electronic mail and file transfer.

A term coined by William Gibson in his novel "Neuromancer" to refer to a near-future computer network where users mentally travel through matrices of data. The term is now used to describe the Internet and the other computer networks.

DNS (Domain Name System)
The Internet naming scheme which consists of a hierarchical sequence of names, from the most specific to the most general (left to right), separated by dots, for example strong>uoft02.utoledo.edu, baddog.sp.utoledo.edu, or nic.ddn.mil. (See also: IP address)

The electronic transfer of information from one computer to another. On the Internet, downloading is most generally from a remote host computer (of unknown type or size) to your local microcomputer.

Electronic Bulletin Board
A shared file where users can enter information for other users to read or download. Many bulletin boards are set up according to general topics and are accessable throughout a network. Also called a BBS.

e-Mail (electronic mail)
A system that enables the exchange of messages between network users or groups of network users.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This is the acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are a common feature on the Internet. As the name indicates, they are files of answers to commonly asked questions. Read FAQs before wasting electrons asking obvious questions. Saves you from receiving flames.

A program that searches for and displays information about a particular user, or all users, logged onto a network system. The information displayed usually includes the individual's full name, last login time, idle time, connect time, and their terminal location.

This term refers to security measures designed to protect a networked system from unauthorized or unwelcome access.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
The File Transfer Protocol allows a user to transfer files electronically from remote computers back to the user's computer. Part of the TCP/IP/TELNET software suite.

Used in different senses (e.g., Mail Gateway, IP Gateway), but most generally, a computer that forwards and routes data between two or more networks of any size.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
A standard graphics file format developed by CompuServe, Inc.

A text-oriented, hierarchically organized, distributed information service that uses a simple protocol to enable Gopher clients to access information from any other accessible Gopher server.

The collection of all interconnected Gopher servers.

Home Page
A hypertext document which is intended as the primary starting point for exploring the World Wide Web. The content of a particular home page depends upon its author and its intended use.

Host Computer
In the context of networks, a computer that directly provides service to a user. In contrast to a network server, which provides services to a user through an intermediary host computer.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
Language used to create (code) documents which are to be accessed on the World Wide Web and displayed by graphical browsers. The elements of the language are a series of informational tags which define the manner in which the text and graphic components of a document are to be displayed. For example, HTML tags include <center> for centering and <i> for italics.

http (hypertext teleprocessing protocol)
The method used to access an information resource (document) on the World Wide Web which was created using HTML.

A text or image link to addional information resources. Usually activated by clicking the mouse pointer on the text or image itself.

Text on an HTML document which has been organized to provide links between other elements of the same document or other documents on the World Wide Web. Selecting a hypertext link (usually by clicking the mouse pointer on the text itself) will summon up additional information.

The series of interconnected networks that includes local area, regional, and national backbone networks. Networks in the Internet use the same telecommunications protocol (TCP/IP) and provide electronic mail, remote login, and file transfer services.

InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center)
A network information services manager which provides registration, directory, database, and information services. Funded by NSF.

IP (Internet protocol)
The Internet standard protocol that provides a common layer over dissimilar networks, used to move packets among host computers and through gateways if necessary.

IP Address
The numeric address of a computer connected to the Internet; also called Internet address.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
JPEG is an image compression format used to transfer color photographs and images over computer networks. Along with GIF, it's one of the most common ways photos are moved over the Web.

These are the hypertext connections between Web pages. This is a synonym for hotlinks or hyperlinks.

Listserv Lists (or listservers)
Electronic discussion of technical and nontechnical issues conducted by electronic mail over BITNET using LISTSERV protocols. Similar lists, often using the UNIX readnews or rn facilty, are available exclusively on the Internet. Internet users may subscribe to BITNET listservers. Participants subscribe via a central service, and lists often have a moderator who manages the information flow and content.

This is the abbreviation for MOdulator-DEModulator, an electronic device which converts (modulates) digital data from the computer to a form which can be transmitted over the telephone (analog) line. The modem also converts the telephone line data back to computer data (demodulates).

This is the abbreviation for National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Network Server
A program which provides service to a user (human being) by responding to requests from other programs (clients). This term is also used to refer to the actual computer system on which the server program runs.

NIC (Network Information Center)
A NIC provides administrative support, user support, and information services for a network.

The National Research and Education Network is a proposed national computer network to be built upon the foundation of the NSF backbone network, NSFnet. NREN would provide high speed interconnection between other national and regional networks. SB 1067 is the legislative bill proposing NREN.

OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog)
Online Public Access Catalog, a term used to describe any type of computerized library catalog.

OSI (Open Systems Interconnection)
This is the evolving international standard under development at ISO (International Standards Organization) for the interconnection of cooperative computer systems. An open system is one that conforms to OSI standards in its communications with other systems.

MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group)
Refers to the format for files containing motion pictures developed by this group.

Operating System
A set of basic programs responsible for the actual operation of a computer.

Ping (Packet Internet Gopher)
A program designed to test the availability of a remote host.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
An Internet protocol for connecting computers over a serial line.

A mutually determined set of formats, rules, and procedures governing the exchange of information between computer systems and / or computer programs. In other words, the rules and language that one program (running on a local computer) uses to communicate to another program (running on a remote computer).

A computer sevurity program which controls the access to a computer system.

Remote Access
The ability to access a computer from outside a building in which it is housed, or outside the library. Remote access requires communications hardware, software, and actual physical links, although this can be as simple as common carrier (telephone) lines or as complex as Telnet login to another computer across the Internet.

Search Engine
This term refers to a program that helps users find information in text-oriented databases.

A computer system that manages and delivers information for client computers.

Computer software (usually for the microcomputer), distributed through public domain channels (you can give away copies), for which the author of the software expects to receive compensation (if you use it, you are expected to send in some money).

SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol)
An Internet protocol for connecting computers over the telephone line or other serial lines.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is a combined set of protocols that performs the transfer of data between two computers. TCP monitors and ensures correct transfer of data. IP receives the data from TCP, breaks it up into packets, and ships it off to a network within the Internet. TCP/IP is also used as a name for a protocol suite that incorporates these functions and others.

A portion of the TCP/IP suite of software protocols that handles terminals. Among other functions, it allows a user to log in to a remote computer from the user's local computer.

A display device used with mainframe and minicomputer systems. Terminals do not normally have any local computing capabilities. Sometimes called "dumb terminals" because of this lack of computing capacity.

Terminal Emulation
Most communications software packages will permit your personal computer or workstation to communicate with another computer or network as if it were a specific type of terminal directly connected to that computer or network.

Terminal Server
A machine that connects terminals to a network by providing host TELNET service.

A version of TELNET providing IBM full-screen support.

A computer operating system which is machine independent. UNIX was developed at Bell Laboratories.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
The addressing scheme for information resources on the World Wide Web.

WAIS (Wide Area Information Server)
A database of databases. One of the first programs based on the Z39.50 standard. A network information system allowing for full-text document searching independent of hardware and software differences.

This term is often used to refer to the person in charge of administrating a World Wide Web site.

Web Browser
A program which uses a graphical approach to finding and displaying the information on the Internet.

World Wide Web (WWW)
A hypertext-based, distributed information system in which users may create, edit, and browse hypertext documents. Also called W3 or simply "the Web."

Z39.50 Protocol
Name of the national standard developed by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) that defines an applications level protocol by which one computer can query another computer and transfer result records, using a canonical format. This protocol provides the framework for OPAC users to search remote catalogs on the Internet using the commands of their own local systems. Projects are now in development to provide Z39.50 support for catalogs on the Internet. SR (Search and Retrieval), ISO Draft International Standard 10162/10163 is the international version of Z39.50

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