Searching the World Wide Web

Article excerpt

"The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage."(1)

Knowledge is often equated with power. Why? Because it provides competitive strength that brings about productivity and ultimately, economic prosperity. The Internet is a resource that holds a wealth of knowledge. To locate the information in the Internet, though, takes time and practice; both are limited commodities in today's workplace. This article will help you tap into the power of the Internet by learning the ways information can be located from its most well-known source: the World Wide Web.

WEB BROWSERS

Any discussion of the Internet needs to begin with a brief overview of web browsers. Browsers are software programs used to view sites on the World Wide Web. Not only do they allow you to retrieve text, but browsers support graphics, hyper-links, sound, images, and animations. Without this software, a user will not have the full functionality of a web site.

Browsers can be downloaded free from the Internet or bought from a commercial vendor. By purchasing the software, written documentation for the browser, plus notices of new versions, promotional offers and customer service support will be available.

The most popular browsers include:

* Netscape Navigator (available at http://home.netscape.com/)

* Internet Explorer (available at http://www.microsoft.com/)

* NCSA Mosaic (available at http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/Software/Mosaic/NCSAMosiac Home.html).

To use a browser, it is helpful to understand how Internet addresses (called Uniform Resource Locators or URLs) are designed. A typical URL looks like: http://www.microsoft. com. The first part, http:// tells your browser to use hypertext transfer protocol to connect to the Web site. The second part www.microsoft. com is the domain name. In this case it is the registered name for Microsoft Corporation.

Browsers also support a feature called a "bookmark." When given a URL, browsers "transfer" the user to the URL's first (or home) page. If the site is worth revisiting, the URL can be saved into the computer's memory as a "bookmark." This eliminates retyping a URL each time you visit a site or go online. To avoid unnecessary searching, bookmarks can also be organized by placing them in "folders."

To make a bookmark in Netscape, go to your favorite site. Pull down the "Bookmarks" menu and click on "Add Bookmark." To access your bookmarks, pull down the "Bookmarks" menu and click on the site name you would like to view. Other browsers will have a similar feature for adding and organizing bookmarks.(2)

WEB SEARCH DIRECTORIES

Many times you will know the address for the site you want to visit; in that situation simply type in the URL for that location and your computer will retrieve that site. URLs are case and space sensitive so type the address in exactly as it is printed.

Most searching, however, is not that simple. If you are looking for information on a particular topic or a broad idea, the best place to start your query is with a search directory. Search directories (also known as subject directories) are designed like a telephone book. They have pre-defined categories that list the available topics you can search. To use a search directory, a user locates the appropriate heading, and simply points and clicks on that caption. You will retrieve a group of URLs that are suitable for that topic.

Each search directory has a program that reviews sites and organizes them under the appropriate heading. Topics are determined both by a computer search of the Internet and from information provided to the subject directory by the developer of the Web site. The information retrieved will be quite extensive and reliable; however, similar to a telephone book, if you are looking for a topic that does not exist in the directory, you will have to look for an alternative title. …