CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Learning how to untangle the Web

by Cathi Schuler

"Is this all there is?" Such are the comments of PC users who have accepted the Internet challenge and rushed headlong into the World Wide Web to mine the riches of cyberspace. "I thought there would be more...I can't find anything...I like America Online better." These are typical reactions of first time net surfers frustrated with the abundance of information and the catacomb nature of the information superhighway. It's easy to get lost.

Before one can get an answer, one needs to ask a question. This is not meant to be as esoteric as "what is the sound of one hand clapping" or as poignant as the "ruby slippers", but rather to make a point. If you don't know what it is you're looking for on the Internet, you're probably not going to find it. You may stumble upon some interesting side treks along the way, but without a purpose in mind, browsing the Internet can often leave you feeling rather ho hum.

The Internet is a worldwide network of business, academic and government computers linked together via a common thread, or protocol. The most popular method of navigating this complex system is through the World Wide Web. The Web enables you to travel throughout the Internet via a multi-media interface of graphics, sound and video. As long as you have an Internet account and a Web browser (software) such as Netscape you are just mouse click away from virtually anyplace on the planet...provided you have some basic planetary scheme in mind.

Since the Internet is not owned or controlled by any single entity, there is no "official" main menu or starting point. There are, however, a number of excellent, "unofficial" Web sites that specialize in searching and organizing the Internet. Yahoo - http://www.yahoo.com is probably the most popular index of Web sites. Here you can find "What's New", "What's Cool" and "What's Popular" as well as Internet locations organized by category. Yahoo also provides a search utility, called an "engine" to ferret out information for your specific needs.

If you know what you are looking for, Lycos - http://www.lycos.com is probably the most powerful search engine I've seen so far. Lycos boasts indexing 91% of the Internet and referencing 16 million Web pages worldwide. You can search on single words or phrases and also define how specific you want Lycos to be in its search efforts, i.e. "Loose Match" or "Strong Match". In addition to its search muscle, Lycos offers a Yahoo-style of categorizing various web sites by content.

Magellan - http://mckinley.com, named for the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, is another Internet directory available on the World Wide Web. Like Yahoo and Lycos, Magellan offers search capabilities and categorical organization of content If all this seems overwhelming, check out John December's Internet Web Internet Web Text - http://www.rpi.edu/Internet/Guides/decemj/text.html. This site offers an excellent Internet tutorial as well as a comprehensive guide to the Internet and World Wide Web resources.

If you think America Online and similar online services are easier to use, you're right. These providers have done most of the hard work for you by organizing online content into single, menu-like interfaces. If you want to research a particular topic, for example, just select "Reference" or "Magazines" and a bevy of resources appear in an instant, all under one content heading. But realize you are also paying a premium for this service. When comparing apples and apples, America Online will cost you three times what the typical Internet provider charges.

One Web site you definitely need to add to your bookmarks is Stocktonet. Yessiree! Stockton, California is now has its own Stockton Home Page: http://www.stocktonet.com. This joint effort by InReach Communications and local attorney A. Peter Rausch, Jr. is developing nicely as a local presence on the World Wide Web. Though still in its infancy, community and business resources are being added to Stocktonet daily. Already there are links to local TV stations, St. Joseph s Health Care, UOP, and Delta College. Stocktonet has great potential for linking all Stockton resources through a common Web site. If your Stockton based company, group or organization wishes to publish information at this site, or if you have information of interest to the Stockton community, please contact Peter Rausch.

Whether your needs are local or global, map out a strategy and take one step at a time. This is the new frontier and also history in the making. As such, the rules are loose and often made up along the way. Patience and perserverance will prevail!

Yahoo - http://www.yahoo.com
Lycos - http://www.lycos.com
Magellan - http://mckinley.com
Internet Web Text - http://www.rpi.edu/Internet/Guides/decemj/text.html
Stockton Home Page: http://www.stocktonet.com

Feedback? E-Mail cschuler@ceeprompt.com

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