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Fundamentals of Research - Library 101

Key Concepts

Week 2 - Information Technology and Searching on the WWW 


Table of Contents [click on topic or scroll down]

The Internet and the World Wide Web
Organization of the Web
Other I.T. Applications
Listing of Websites

Basic Technology Concepts and Definitions

Although this is not a class strictly about computers or technology, this class assumes a basic understanding of computer terms and concepts as well as basic knowledge of how to use applications.

Take a look at the definitions on p. 26-29 in the textbook. Also, take a look at the Glossary terms [located in the menu to the left and linked here].   Glossary

Are there terms you are unfamiliar with? Probably so, unless you regularly work with computers. Also, we may use or work with technical and computer concepts with which we may not know the terms for, but are very familiar with. Read these over, especially unfamiliar terms and become familiar with these terms.

Also, our online course includes a Glossary [you'll see it linked to the left] which contains many of these definitions, as well as additional definitions.

Internet and the World Wide Web

History of the Internet

  • The Internet began as a government network connecting researchers working for the U.S. government. As it became obvious that the network could be useful to research, the National Science Foundation took over funding and support of the internet. Click here for a history of the Internet from the Internet Society.


Here is another fun site, the Computer History Museum, which gives a timeline of the development of the Internet:


 Here is a diagram of the Internet, or ARPAnet, as it was called, circa 1983. Not a very large system in 1983! The nodes show the different universities and government institutions connected to the network:  



* from www.computerhistory.org/exhibits

  • Today the NSF no longer funds the net [this stopped in 1994]; it is now self-sufficient and is actually a 'network of networks', with many providers. AOL, Earthlink, and other commercial ventures provide access to the Internet through their networks to subscribers.

  • Although the Web and the Internet seem synonymous, they are actually different. The Web is a part of the Internet. The Internet includes other technologies such as email, and instant messaging.

Organization of the Web

The Web makes information available in a graphical format through a web browser. A web browser is software programmed to provide links to other sources on the web. This is called a hypertext technology, in which documents are linked virtually throughout the Internet. The web is a protocol that is used by a browser: a browser 'gives some means of viewing the contents of nodes [pages] and of navigating from one node to another' [p. 27, List-Handley].

Search engines and directories

To find specific things on the web, you must search for them, or use a tool or website that has pre chosen links for users of the site. Examples of both kinds of tools are search engines and search directories. A search engine provides a program which scans web pages in it's system for the terms that you enter. And a web directory, or subject directory, [you will see these terms interchangeably] such as Yahoo organizes information more explicitly, providing websites organized by subject or topic.

Usually a web directory reviews and chooses websites, then organizes them by subject.

Some web [or subject] directories are listed here.


Some search engines are listed here:


Please skim these websites: The following two websites from UC Berkeley also provide good guides for web search engines and directories:



Browsing a web directory can be a good way to sample web sites on a topic. Searching through a search engine can provide a more systematic focused way to look for a topic.

In each case, the search engine, or the directory, can only access the web sites that are included in it's index. Even though google.com, considered the most well known of the general search engines, includes a lot of web sites, it does not provide access to all web sites.

There are no exact statistics on how many web pages Google indexes, to use them as an example, but their stated goal is to index 100 billion websites [click here for the story]:


Even this would not be a full cataloguing of all available and existing web sites; web sites appear, and disappear, daily, and no one search engine will ever fully be able to index all web sites.

Hypertext Capability

The web has the capability to 'jump' from one page to another. You do this by clicking on links, on a page. Here, from the Library of Congress homepage, we see several links we could follow:


This technology allows users to follow pages in a nonlinear fashion. Whichever path we take is nonlinear; there are several beginning links we could choose, and from there, more links that we can take through the site in several different ways. We have several options or ways to move through the site. 

Other I.T. Applications

Other types of I.T. applications include word processing, spreadsheet software, and presentation programs. Microsoft Office is a set of applications that provide a program for all three of these functions. OpenOffice.org is an open source set of programs that offer the same capabilities [it's free, with a set of programs similar to Office].

Another term you may see is productivity software; often businesses use this term as word processing and office software increases productivity for businesses:


Other programs include Wordperfect, and MicrosoftWorks. A basic knowledge of these applications can simplify your research process. You will need a basic knowledge of word processing as well as other I.T. applications to complete work for this class, as well as other courses in college.

Websites included above are compiled here:  

Development of the Internet, History of the Internet
Internet Society- History<http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.shtml>
Computer History Museum<http://www.computerhistory.org/exhibits/internet_history/index.shtml>
Search Engine and Subject Directory Guides
Subject Directories<http://www.sou.edu/library/searchtools/subjdir.html>
Web Search Engines<http://www.infopeople.org/search/chart.html>
UC Berkely Guides to the Internet<http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/SearchEngines.html>


Google article<http://www.sitepronews.com/archives/2006/sep/20.html>
Other sites on electronic resources and technical definitions
ODLIS<http://lu.com/odlis/ > **appears to be down 2/4/09**
Library of Congress<http://www.loc.gov/index.html>
OpenOffice<OpenOffice.org >
Tech Definitions<http://searchwebservices.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid26_gci213024,00.html>