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How To Use the Internet Effectively
When we first started actively using the Internet, late in
1991, through the Delphi online service, the World Wide Web was a text based frontier. In
order to use the Internet, you had to know about telnet, gopher, lynx,
ftp, wais and e-mail. Many of the commands were Unix based. Today, one only needs to know
how to use a WWW browser and an e-mail client (program)to derive the full benefit of the
Even though it is now much easier to access and use the
Internet, the amount of information available is overwhelming. For somebody who is
entirely new to the Internet, (definition of a newbie) learning how to successfully get
around can be very scary. In discussing how to use the Internet more effectively, Going
Global is assuming that you know absolutely nothing about the Internet. If you have prior
Internet experience and are visiting Going Global for the links to other resources which
we have assembled, please remember that you too were once a "newbie".
What Do I Need to Know?
As much as is possible would be the most obvious answer.
However, that does not answer your question. If you are reading this, then one of two
things must be true: either you are surfing on the World Wide Web and found this site
through a search engine or someone who has Internet access printed this for you to read.
In any case, to effectively use the Internet to go global you must understand the basics
about the following subjects:
glossary of Internet terms
WWW browsers and the World Wide Web
e-mail discussion groups
Experienced users will note that we did not include such
things as gopher, irc and telnet. While these are important tools, newbies will become
acquainted with them in due course if they browse Going Global regularly.
Glossary of Internet Terms
There are several glossaries of Internet terms available in
gopherspace and on the World Wide Web.(WWW) We like the I L C Glossary of Internet Terms
which is compiled and continually updated by Internet Literacy Consultants. This glossary
will introduce the newbie to Internet jargon and will explain the many strange terms which
you will be exposed to as you begin to explore the Internet. We encourage you to take
sufficient time to print and read this document and then to review it online and visit the
hypertext links to learn even more about the Internet. It is an excellent way to begin the
learning process and will remain a valuable reference tool.
WWW Browsers and the World Wide Web
Even if you have failed to visit the Internet, you would
have to have been living in isolation to have not heard about it. Since early 1995, most
of the important daily newspapers worldwide have devoted considerable space to covering
the Internet, especially the World Wide Web. In fact, many new users consider the Internet
to be the World Wide Web. According to recently concluded studies, Internet usage has
increased most significantly within the past two years. It is probably not a coincidence
that this increase in Internet users has occurred simultaneously with technological
innovations in browser technology. There are several different WWW browsers currently
available. Each online service has its own proprietary WWW browser and even some Internet
Service Providers (ISP) as well. However, for practical purposes, there are really two
very important ones: Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer.
a very popular Web browser and for several very good reasons. It is easy to download and
install and is also intuitively very easy to use, even for people with little computer or
Internet experience or knowledge. Netscape has continually strived to improve its browser
and is constantly innovating. Many Internet users have selected the Netscape Home Page as
their browser's own starting point when they connect to the Internet because it offers a
phenomenal amount of information in a format which is very easy to understand and use.
Explorer is the other significant WWW browser. Unlike so many people, we are not
going to waste time and bandwidth criticizing Bill Gates because we're jealous of his
wealth. Microsoft has to be respected because of its tremendous resources.
Clearly, Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer have
been adopted by the website designer community as the standards. Most WWW pages and sites
will display both icons to alert users that a site is better viewed with them. Newbies
should learn the nuances of using both browsers. In exploring the browser information
provided by Netscape and Microsoft, newbies will really propel themselves up onto the
Internet learning curve rather quickly and will have a lot of fun in doing it.
Volumes have been written about the World Wide Web.
However, simply put, the WWW is like a gigantic electronic library with a very colorful
catalog of listings which is only a mouse click away. Many government agencies (domestic
and foreign) have a significant WWW presence. Add several major companies,
non-governmental organizations such as universities and trade & industry groups,
newspaper and other media organizations and diverse international groups which have a
significant WWW presence. Thousands more join daily. There is a huge amount of
international business information available. The best way for newbies to truly understand
the World Wide Web is to make their Internet connection and click on the browser of their
choice. Then you should visit a search engine, do a search and then browse the sites which
are returned as results. Get lost and do a bit of exploring. This is what is commonly
called "surfing the Web". It is tremendous fun and a fantastic way to learn
about the Internet.
Search engines are software programs which search for
documents on the World Wide Web and also in Usenet groups. There are many different search
engines which use a variety of criteria to locate documents and WWW sites. However, most
focus on some type of key word or phrase search to locate information on a particular
subject. The best way for newbies to learn about search engines is to access one and do a
search. Then do the same search on different engines until you discover which engines will
perform your tasks best. This, of course, will often depend upon the kind of information
for which you are searching. Search engines are fun because they often take you to
unexpected places where you can discover treasure troves of information which meet your
needs quite nicely. We are listing some of our favorites:
E-mail, also called electronic mail, is the foundation of
the Internet. When the Internet was originally conceived by the U.S. Department of
Defense, one of its primary purposes was to develop a communications system which could
withstand nuclear attack. Well, the Department of Defense was very successful.
Unfortunately, nobody was able to foresee the advent of junk e-mail, commonly known as
"spam", which has become a very troublesome reality of life on the Internet.
Nevertheless, e-mail is the lifeblood of the Internet and is extremely important to
newbies who want to use the Internet effectively.
For many years, e-mail was sent by e-mail clients which
used Unix based systems and commands. Some of these programs, such as ELM, are still in
use today especially at universities which have not updated their systems to allow their
users to be able to use more efficient e-mail clients. Having started our Internet life on
a Unix based e-mail system, we are quite happy that e-mail has evolved in the last few
years to give us clients (programs) which are easier to use and have more functionality.
There are several e-mail programs currently available which are quite good.
considered by many to be the finest e-mail program available today. The program comes in
two versions: one is freeware,(a program which exists in the public domain and is freely
available to be copied and used by anyone as long as they do not try to profit from it)
and the other is commercial (you have to pay for a license to use it). Many Internet
Service Providers include the freeware version of Eudora in the suite of programs which
they include in their sign up package. Because the program is so widely used, there is a
wealth of FAQ (frequently asked questions) documents available in various Usenet groups,
which is a huge advantage for newbies. For newbies, the freeware version is sufficient to
learn how to use an e-mail client. As you progress, you might want to consider Eudora Pro
which is a very fine program with many useful features.
Connection is another excellent e-mail client.(program) For newbies, this program
is especially nice because it is extremely easy to use. Its graphical interface makes
sending e-mail a snap and also is very helpful in organizing received mail. Its address
book function is superb. This program also has a freeware and a commercial version. The
commercial version has some very interesting features which are very different from Eudora
and might appeal to certain users depending upon their computer and network
Microsoft Outlook is a
very good e-mail client and is also used by many as a newsreader. We prefer Free Agent as
a newsreader, but we are beginning to warm up to Outlook for e-mail. It is free and it is
very well supported by Microsoft's online knowledge base. It has wonderful drag and drop
features for managing e-mail addresses and makes file attachment a snap.
***Note---These are the programs which we use. We do not endorse one over the other.
They are both different and each has its own special advantages. However, we think that
they offer the new user some distinct advantages over other programs which we have
E-mail is used primarily to communicate with another person
or entity. However, e-mail can also be used to subscribe to e-mail discussion groups or to
join other Internet organizations or forums. You can make inquiries for information with
numerous interesting organizations, engage a famous person in an interesting discussion or
debate, contact old friends and meet new friends or find global trade leads. Because an
e-mail address is published on a WWW site or in a newsgroup, does not always mean
that your inquiry will be greeted with enthusiasm. It is considered bad manners to send
unsolicited e-mail. Such practice is called spamming and people on the Internet just love
to beat up on newbies who inadvertently cross what many consider "the line".
Polite inquiries are not considered spam generally speaking. Advertising or soliciting for
anything is considered spam and newbies will be rudely introduced to the
"flame", a nasty message urging the user to do things which would not be
discussed in polite surroundings. Please do not send spam to people as it is very
E-mail Discussion Groups
E-mail discussion groups are very much like the bbs
bulletin board forum. Once joined, a person can send an e-mail message which is then
"posted" to the entire group. Basically, there are two types of group: moderated
and un-moderated. A moderated e-mail discussion group has a moderator to which all
potential postings are sent for review before being sent to the entire group. Usually, the
moderator will be trying to make certain that postings are within the scope of the group
and are relevant to the particular point being discussed. An un-moderated group has no
moderator, so that anybody can post anything, whether it is relevant or not.
When we first visited the Internet, e-mail discussion
groups and their cousins, Usenet groups, were highly touted as being "the
thing". While there is less of this hyperbole today, many still consider these public
forums to be a good source of information. We think that they are a mixed bag for anybody
and can be confusing to newbies. Quite frankly, we strongly believe that some offer much
more than they can deliver. Our advice is quite simple, if you think that an e-mail
discussion group can offer you some interesting information, join and just listen or read
the postings for several months before contributing anything of your own. One unpopular
posting in an e-mail discussion group can result in some very nasty e-mail for quite some
time afterwards. Believe us, it's not worth the hassle.
The following discussion groups should be very useful for
newbies to international business:
Note: At one time, there were at
least three or four lists posted here, but over a period of years, many of
these lists have disappeared. When the Internet was originally founded by
the U.S. Department of Defense, many of the e-mail lists were moderated by
college professors who had graduate students and funding to run them.
During the 1990's especially, it became very difficult to run these lists
because of the time involved in moderating responses and making sure that
the list software was functioning properly. Unfortunately, many of the
Internet's newcomers were unwilling to observe some simple rules and
therefore e-mail discussion groups have all but disappeared as a useful
forum for exchanging ideas and learning about complex subject matter.
list is moderated by Tunga Kiyak. It is an excellent resource for newbie and veteran alike.
It is sponsored by CIBER, an organization with which you will become very familiar; Center
for International Business Education & Research. This list has survived
the turmoil of the Internet and is a legitimate Internet information
resource about international business.
There are over 30,000 Usenet Groups in existence currently
and more are being created each day. Usenet Groups are found on your ISP news server and
are also called newsgroups. Some ISP's do not carry all of the Usenet Groups which are
available for various reasons. In order to read the Usenet Groups postings, a news reader
is required. For the PC, Free Agent
is considered by many to be the standard. Mac and Apple users can fetch Newswatcher at John Nostad's Programs.
You should use search engines to search the Usenet Groups
or read the postings first before posting anything to a Usenet Group. Why? One reason is
spam. Once you post to a Usenet Group, your e-mail address can be extracted by a multitude
of extractor programs used by spammers to develop their mailing lists. Once added to these
lists, your e-mail will increase so much that it will be difficult to manage it, which is
why Internet people hate spam and spammers. The biggest advantage of the Usenet Groups is
that you do not have to join to read the posts. You can read without anybody knowing that
you've read (this is called lurking). Subscribing to a Usenet Group is a misnomer.
Actually, what you are doing is alerting your news reader that you want to single this and
perhaps others out, so that you can access them more easily.
Usenet Groups represent the best and worst of the Internet.
Every hate group and fringe group is here. Racial epithets and homophobic behavior are
commonplace. However, there is a tremendous wealth of information available on any
conceivable subject known to humankind. If you don't know it, somebody else is likely to
know it. If it is a problem for you, then somebody else has probably encountered it. This
is the value of the Usenet Group. However, you should never give out any personal
information other than an e-mail address in a Usenet Group. NEVER!!
For the Going Global newbie, Usenet Groups offer one
feature which is very important. Many unmoderated Usenet Groups allow users to post
messages which are actually advertisements, usually promoting a World Wide Web site, a
virtual network or an e-mail publication. This is a great opportunity for you to promote
your online activities and to attract customers for your product. Before posting to any
newsgroup, carefully read its postings to get a sense of what type of postings are
generally acceptable in the particular Usenet Group. This is important. Please be
considerate of others. Posting the same message in several newsgroups whose topics are
unrelated to the content of the posting is called "cross posting" and is
considered to be spamming.
Yahoo is the
Internet's Directory of Directories and also a primary search engine as well. At one time,
if it was not listed in Yahoo, one would normally question its voracity. While that is
still true to some extent today, the company itself will tell you that the recent influx
of new WWW sites and other relevant information has made its job of categorizing and
listing information much more difficult. Nonetheless, Yahoo is extremely important to any
newbie to the Internet.
Yahoo lists and categorizes information resources available
on the WWW, Usenet Groups, e-mail discussion groups, gopher and some telnet sites. Of
these, the WWW and the Usenet Groups are commonly considered most important. What makes
Yahoo so useful is its ability to categorize information on different levels. This really
makes the information more valuable because it gives you a notion of how it compares with
similar information on the same level. Yahoo also cross references sites which one would
not normally associate with a particular topic, giving you a wider breadth of how the
topic is inter-related.
As a newbie, you must learn how to use Yahoo because it
will be your most valuable information resource. The other search engines are very good,
but Yahoo, for many things, is better. Become comfortable with this Internet legend. We
still use it frequently. And we've discovered something else, the other search engines use
it as well. Do not be surprised when another search engine directs you to Yahoo!
***Note---There are several lists that are useful to newbies. We are going to list those which we think are
important for you to know about. One thing which you will find out rather quickly is that
many WWW sites about a given topic will basically have many of the same hyperlinks.
Therefore, a newbie visits all of these different sites expecting to get new or additional
information and can become disappointed. This is part of the learning process. Gradually
you will choose those lists and sites which are regularly updated and offer you the best
information for your needs.***
A Final Word
For newbies to the Internet, the biggest frustration is the
fact that one feels immediately overwhelmed and somewhat intimidated by the Internet. This
is quite normal. You are not going to become Internet savvy in just one online session. If
we had to give a time period, we would frankly say that it requires about six months of
regularly visiting the Internet before this frustration disappears. In order to jump up
onto the Internet learning curve, two things are very important: 1) please do not abandon
your spouse and/or children or other significant family members and friends and 2) be
willing to let go of yourself and have fun.
Those of us who are experienced at using the Internet know
some of its pitfalls. For newbies, the biggest pitfall of all is that the Internet becomes
a substitute for human interaction. This is not something which people just decide to do
one day. It occurs as a result of the fixation which the Internet causes. You can not just
go into your room and spend endless hours on the Internet when your spouse wants to talk
or your kids have a problem. The Internet is addictive and you have to learn how to use
self-control or it will cause you severe personal problems. If you ever visit irc, you
will encounter people there who spend a significant portion of their lives online. If you
question them, they will tell you that they know that they are addicted but that they
remain helpless to fight it. That is truly sad. Be smart and remember that the Internet is
just one great big library. Would you become obsessed about your local library?
One of the reasons why people become addicted and obsessed
about the Internet is because of a need to be in control of it. We are not psychiatrists
and we are unable to offer you any good advice for any personal problems which you might
have. However, we do know that many people are being forced to learn about the Internet in
order to be more effective at performing their jobs. The desire to quickly master the
Internet is understandable but not very realistic. Even if your company sends you to a
class or seminar, it takes much quality time to learn about the Internet. If you are
spending quality time on the Internet which belongs to your spouse or children, then
you're in conflict. If you try to hurry the learning process, you will defeat your own
best efforts. In order to truly enjoy the Internet, you have to let go of yourself and any
plans which you have for learning. You have to log on and then just get lost, drifting and
drifting to faraway places. This is how to learn how to use the Internet effectively. You
have to have fun!! If it isn't fun, then log off and come back at another time.
*Reprinted from ZDNet Inc. October 2000, with
permission. Copyright (c) 2000 ZDNet Inc. Content originally appearing in Ziff
Davis Smart Business is the copyrighted property of Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc. Copyright
(c) 2000. All Rights Reserved.