a monthly fee. A wide range ofservices is available.Many public libraries havecomputer connections to theInternet. By using a connectedcomputer and a World WideWeb browser, a user can locatethe nearest Internet serviceprovider (Table Two). As of July1996, there were an estimated3000 of these providers.
Monthly service charges forconnections vary from free to$30. In addition, long-distancetelephone charges are applied ifthe connection to the provideris not a local call. Most majorcities now have local connec-tions, and most commercialproviders have toll-free (800 or888 area code) telephone num-bers that charge a reduced rate($0.10/min) for individuals us-ing long-distance connections.Some cities even have theirown network services for com-mercial purposes to provide aninterface for business and com-munity. One example is theBlacksburg Electronic Village Net-work(BevNet [http://www.bev.net/])in Blacksburg, Virginia.Once you are connected tothe Internet, you need softwareto allow navigation among thethousands of linked computers.Each of the navigation pro-grams has a unique name
andthe name does not always de-scribe the program
s function.These programs are constantlybeing upgraded. The followingdescribes the general types ofInternet software. Specific pro-grams are available through In-ternet service providers, on-lineservice organizations, directlyvia the Internet, or in most com-puter stores.
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web(WWW) has been in existencefor a little over 3 years. It allowscomputer users to access infor-mation through a hypertext in-terface and a program called aweb browser.
These browsersare commercially available orcan be obtained via the Internet.Many new computers evencome with a web browser al-ready loaded. With the hypertextinterface, the user need onlyclick on a highlighted word orpicture for the computer to per-form a task. Many types of mul-timedia (e.g., graphics, video,audio, and interactive animation)are available via hypertext links.The original informationscreen that appears when awebsite is accessed is called ahomepage (Figures 1 and 2). Itusually serves as a table of con-tents that describes or has linksto other information areas orweb pages.The format of web addresseshas become widely familiar be-cause such addresses havebeen featured in so many adver-tisements on television, in mag-azines, and in direct mail solici-tations. This addressing system,called a uniform resource loca-tor (URL), serves as a personalphone number for a website onthe Internet. Virginia Tech
swebsite address (http://www.vt.edu) follows the usual format.The first section of the address
hypertext transfer protocol
. It is followedby a colon and two forwardslashes. The next section
stands for World WideWeb. The sections immediatelyfollowing describe the comput-er
s location and any associateddirectory and file names (vt =Virginia Tech; edu = educationalinstitution). There are organiza-tions that record and registerthe unique names or addressesfor web locations to ensure thatno duplications arise.
Searching the World Wide Web
Finding the desired informa-tion is the challenge in workingwith any data base. Because theInternet consists of millions ofcomputers, this search is nosmall task. Strategies have beendevised to help locate the rightsource of information. Threemain methods are used to locateinformation on the Internet.
Thefirst method (usually the mosttime-consuming and least pro-ductive) involves simply
finding aWWW homepage with relatedinformation and then searchingthe links to other web pages. Of-ten, the user becomes side-tracked by interesting informa-tion on a totally different topic.A more streamlined searchuses predefined lists of weblinks related to a specific sub-ject. These lists are usuallymaintained by an organizationthat has similar interests. Theusefulness of the websites andtheir associated web links de-
Random-access 88memory (MB)Modem (bps)14,400 14,400MonitorColorColorHard drive (MB)100100
Minimum System Requirementsfor Access to the Internet
Operating System Specification
Windows 3.1Macintosh 7.0
The Listhttp://thelist.iworld.com/NetAccess Worldwidehttp://www.best.be/iap/TheDirectoryhttp://www.vni.net/thedirectory/Internet Accesshttp://www.herbison.com/her-Provider Lists forbison/iap_usa_ meta_list.htmlthe United States
Uniform Resource Locator or Domain name, analogousto an address on the Internet.
Selected Internet Service Provider Listings
World Wide Web SiteURL Address*