GLOSSARY OF INTERNET TERMS
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Acceptable Use Policy (AUP):
A set of guidelines and expectations about how people conduct themselves
A format for online video. A file named example.avi is likely
to be a full-motion video that can be played on a computer.
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A measure of capacity for communications channels. For Internet connections,
bandwidth is usually expressed in thousands of bits per second (kbps).
A standard dial-up connection to the Internet, for example, typically
has a bandwidth of approximately 56k (or 56,000 bits per second). Cable
modems or digital subscriber lines (DSL) provide much higher bandwidth
for binary digit, a bit is the smallest element of computer
storage. A single bit holds only one of two possible values, 0 or 1.
Black list: A
list of Web sites (or URLs) to which access from a given workstation or
user is specifically forbidden. Contrast with white list.
A system of logic based on operators such as AND, OR, and NOT. In many
search engines, search terms are linked with these Boolean operators to
create more precise queries.
common reference to communications or Web access thats faster than
dial-up (56k). Broadband access includes cable modems and digital subscriber
The computer program used to view documents on the World Wide Web (for
example, Netscape Navigator or Microsoft’s Internet Explorer).
A computer system used as an information source and forum for a particular
interest group. Bulletin boards typically show the postings and replies
made by various participants.
Byte: The common
unit of computer storage. A byte consists of eight bits (or binary
digits) and holds the equivalent of a single character, such as the letter
a, a dollar sign, or a decimal point. Larger numbers of bytes
can be expressed as kilobytes (1,024 bytes), megabytes (1,048,576 bytes),
and gigabytes (1,073,741,824 bytes).
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place to store files locally for quicker access. Caches, which can be
temporary or permanent, are used to speed up data transfer. Memory and
disk caches are used in every computer to speed up instruction execution
and data retrieval. Material in caches often remains even after it has
been used or viewed.
Internet conferencing between two or more users. Chatting is usually accomplished
by typing on the keyboard, not speaking, and each message is sent directly
to the recipient.
A virtual room where a chat session takes place. Technically, a chat room
is really a channel, but the term room is used to promote
the chat metaphor.
Click (or mouse click):
A way of making a selection online.
application that runs on a personal computer or workstation and relies
on a server to perform some operations. For example, an e-mail client
is an application that lets you send and receive e-mail.
A network architecture in which each computer or process on the network
is either a client or a server. Servers are powerful computers
or processes dedicated to managing disk drives (file servers), printers
(print servers), or network traffic (network servers). Clients
are PCs or workstations on which users run applications.
Any operation that is performed at the client workstation.
Content provider: An
organization or person who creates information, educational, or entertainment
content for the Internet. A content provider might or might not provide
the software or network infrastructure used to access the material.
message given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser stores the
message in a file (generally called cookie.txt). The message is then returned
to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. Web
See spider or Web crawler.
Online, real-time dialogue (usually text-based) that interactively describes
sexual behavior and actions with one’s online partner for erotic purposes
A term coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel Neuromancer that
refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general.
A collection of information organized in such a way that usersoften
both people and computer programscan quickly select desired pieces
Dial-up: The most
common method for accessing the Internet. It involves making a connection
from a user’s computer, by using a modem, over a standard phone line to
an ISP. Contrast with always-on access methods such as cable
modems or DSL.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL):
A class of technologies that use copper phone lines to establish high-speed
Internet connections to homes and businesses.
Download: The act
of copying data, usually an entire file, from a main source to a peripheral
device. The term is often used to describe the process of copying a file
from an online service to one’s own computer.
Short for “electronic mail,” e-mail is the transmission of messages
Any procedure used in cryptography to convert plain text into cyphertext
to prevent anyone but the intended recipient from reading it.
A method by which users of e-mail can attach files to messages (for example,
sending a digital picture of a newborn in an e-mail announcing the birth).
Filter (or filtering):
A type of technology that allows Internet material or activities deemed
inappropriate to be blocked, so that someone using the filtered computer
cant access the material or participate in the activities.
Graphics file: A
file that holds an image. JPG and GIF are two popular formats for image
files exchanged on the Internet.
A computer’s primary storage medium, usually a fixed component within
the computer itself.
Harvester: An automated
program designed to collect e-mail addresses by scanning Web sites, bulletin
boards, and chat rooms, among other things.
History file: The
list, which most Web browsers maintain of downloaded pages in a session,
that allows users to quickly review everything thats been retrieved.
History files can easily be cleared or altered.
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ICQ (I Seek You):
A conferencing program for the Internet. Much like AOL’s Instant Messenger
service, ICQ provides interactive chat and file transfer and can alert
users when someone on their predefined list has come online.
Internet Content Rating Association (www.icra.org).
ICRA provides toolkits for users to rate Web sites (and pages within those
sites) with respect to their potential objectionable qualities (for example,
the presence of sexually explicit material).
Instant Message (IM):
A two-way, real-time, private dialogue between two users. A user initiating
an IM sends an invitation to talk to another, specific, user whos
online at the same time. IMs are often used in conjunction with chat rooms.
A user in a chat room can send an IM to someone else in the chat room
whose screen name, or handle, is displayed, thus establishing
a private communication.
A decentralized global communications network connecting millions of individual
users and machines.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC):
A conferencing system used on the Internet. Unlike instant messaging,
however, users dont communicate directly with each other. Instead,
the server broadcasts all messages to all current users of a particular
Internet Service Provider (ISP):
An organization or company that provides access to the Internet. Examples
of national-level ISPs include America Online (AOL), EarthLink, and Microsoft
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A method for recording each keystroke made by a user on a given computer.
Link (or hyperlink):
A reference or pointer to another document. Selecting (clicking on) a
link on a Web page generally takes the user to the document being referenced
(for example, clicking on a link to the NRC’s home page opens the NRC’s
home page document in the user’s browser).
way computers recognize users. Logins are also commonly referred to as
user names. Generally, the combination of a correct login
and password is required to gain access
Elements within HTML code that allow page creators to describe the content
of Web pages. Meta tags are often read and indexed by search engines.
component of data that describes the data. Metadata describes the content,
quality, condition, or other data characteristics. For example, in the
HEAD section of most HTML documents, many Web page creators encode information
about the title, author, date of creation or update, and keywords relating
to or descriptions of the document’s content.
device that enables the transmission of digital data over analog telephone
A mailing list in which all postings are moderated by a person, the moderator,
with the authority and power to reject individual postings that he or
she deems inappropriate.
A technique that prevents a user from escaping from an objectionable
Web site. Whenever the user tries to leave the site by closing the browser
window or going to a new URL, the site thats mousetrapping forwards
the user to another, usually similar, Web site or launches a new window
with the similar content. The result can be a never-ending stream of Web
sites, which clutter the screen and often cause panic and distress to
used to refer to the files of digital video and audio data available on
An online discussion group. On the Internet, there are literally thousands
of newsgroups covering every conceivable interest.
The time that a user isnt connected to the Internet.
time that a user is connected to the Internet.
A practice of Internet filtering software that blocks access to resources
that the filter users didnt intend to block. Contrast with underblocking.
A secret series of characters that allows a user to access a file, computer,
network, or other system. On multiuser systems, each user must enter his
or her correct user name and password combination before the computer
will respond to commands.
A communications network that allows all computers in the network to act
as servers and share their files with all other users on the network.
Napster is one example of peer-to-peer networking on the Internet. Also
known as P2P.
Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS):
A system endorsed by the World Wide Web Consortium for rating Website
An auxiliary program that works with Internet browser software to enhance
browser capability. Examples include RealNetwork’s RealPlayer or Microsoft’s
Web site or service offering a broad array of resources and services,
such as e-mail, search engines, subject directories, and forums. Yahoo!
is an example of a portal.
Real-time audio or
video: Communication of sound or images over
the Internet that occurs without delay in real time, much like a telephone
The capability of system administratorswhether they be information
technology help-desk personnel or teachers in a classroomto view
whats being displayed on a given workstation or computer from their
A device that can copy text or illustrations printed on paper and translate
the information into a form that can be used on a computer.
Screen name: An alias,
or short nickname, chosen by a computer user to use when accessing his
or her online service or network account. See login.
Search engine: A
program that searches documents or indexes of documents for specified
words or phrases and returns a list of the documents where those items
Server: A computer,
as well as the software running on it, that delivers, or serves
up Web pages.
operation that is performed at the server.
e-mail in general, but particularly unsolicited e-mail of a commercial
Spider: A computer
program that automatically retrieves Web documents. They are often used
to feed pages to search engines for indexing. Also known as a Web crawler.
refers to a technique for transferring data so that it can be processed
as a steady and continuous stream (as distinct from the user’s needing
to download the entire file before being able to watch or listen to it).
Surfing (or Web surfing):
is a metaphor for browsing the contents of the Web.
A Web page or portion of a Web site intended to entice users to spend
more time at a given Web site or become paying customers.
Top-level domains: Major
subdivisions within the Internet’s domain-name service (DNS). Examples
of top-level domains include .com, .gov, and .edu.
The load on a given Web site or resource. A high-traffic Web site, for
instance, receives many visitors or requests for data.
The practice whereby one Web site forwards traffic to another Web site
and might receive a fee for doing so.
practice of Internet filtering software that does not block access to
resources that authorities intended to block. Contrast with overblocking.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL):
The address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web.
worldwide bulletin-board system that can be accessed through the Internet
or through many online services. Usenet is made up of more than 14,000
forums, called newsgroups, that cover different interest
The ability of Internet service providers or Web site operators to host
Web sites or other services for different entities on one computer while
giving the appearance that they exist on separate servers. With virtual
hosting, Web sites from two separate organizations can reside on and
be served by a single server (with a single IP address).
Virus: a type of
replicating computer program that travels from computer to computer, most
often through network connections that deliver e-mails or attached files.
Computer viruses often spread without a users knowledge and may
or may not cause disruption, lost or erased files, or other computer-data
damage to the infected computer.
A computer program that automatically retrieves Web documents. Its
often used to feed pages to search engines for indexing. Also called a
Web page hosting:
The ability of an Internet service provider, company, or other organization
to act as servers of Web pages.
video camera that is used to transmit periodic images or continuous video
to a Web site for display.
service that makes a connection to the Internet via a user’s telephone
service and then converts the downloaded Web pages to a format that can
be displayed on a television.
A list of Web sites (or URLs) to which access from a given workstation
or user has been specifically approved. Contrast with black list.
A computer connected to a network (often the Internet).
World Wide Web (WWW):
refers to the set of all the information resources that can be accessed
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):
One of the main standards bodies for the World Wide Web. The W3C works
with the global community to establish international standards for client
and server protocols that enable communications on the Internet.
A program that can copy itself from computer to computer. Worms normally
travel and infect other machines through computer networks. Worms differ
from viruses in the way they reproduce and spread. Viruses depend on a
host file or a bootstrap record found on a floppy disk or
hard drive and a transfer of files between computers. A worm can run independently
and spread on its own.