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The Internet and Friends

Magazine article Searcher

The Internet and Friends

Article excerpt

The Internet, as we all know at this point, is not a tool or a trend; it is a force of nature. No one can encompass all the problems it creates or the solutions it provides. Like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose going full blast with no one hanging onto it, tapping the Internet requires one of two approaches--careful, patient watching before you make your move, or loud, repeated shouts for a fire brigade to come grab the hose.

Rescue At Hand? InterNIC

Desperate for information on and about the Internet? Contact the InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center). Funded by a National Science Foundation Network Manager project award, the five-year project aims to provide full reference desk services, training, education, and classes to support the growth of the Internet in service to the U.S. research and education community. The InterNIC also helps network information centers as a resource point by supplying directories and registration for individuals and network data and services.

Three organizations have collaborated in creating InterNIC. General Atomics provides information services; AT&T provides directory and database services; and Network Solutions, Inc. supports registration services. InterNIC has been in operation since April 1993.

The main InterNIC office in San Diego, CA, run by General Atomics, supplies general information to newcomers and swamped experienced Internet users. The Reference Desk service ("refdesk@is.internic.net" or (800) 444-4345) functions as a court of first and last resort for users. Novices can contact them for start-up information and support, while experienced users can ask specialized questions. The Reference Desk works over a toll-free hotline Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 6 PM (PST). It provides procedures for getting connected, training seminars, and pointers to resources and tools available on the |Net. It also looks for people interested in hosting an Internet training seminar. Seminar titles include: Welcome to the Global Village (an Internet introduction), Locating Information on the Internet, Implementing Network Tools (how to establish a Network Information Center), Building a Distributed Directory (how to establish an X.500 DSA), etc.

InterNIC also provides a database of Internet information called InfoSource with an extensive collection of Internet reference materials (starter kits, network tool lists, calendar of events, etc.). InfoSource is searchable under a hypermedia search interface available via Gopher, WAIS, Archie, telnet, ftp, or electronic mail. A CD-ROM version of the database called NIClink updates quarterly. Real live people--called Info Scouts--seek out new resources and innovative network uses to augment the InfoSource/NICLink database. Educational materials include a bimonthly newsletter, NSFNET Network News, InterNIC IS Fact Sheets, and electronic mailing lists, plus a list of electronic books by Internet experts. Recently they introduced a bimonthly newsletter called InterNIC Interactive with articles on tools, training, new InterNIC services and documentation, discipline-oriented resources, and a calendar of events. The eight-to-ten page newsletter is available in print, electronically text-only (ASCII), and as a Postscript file. To subscribe, send e-mail to "interactive-request@is.internic.net," indicating the format in which you wish to receive the newsletter.

AT&T has built an InterNIC Directory of Directories that includes list of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites, various types of available services such as servers available on the Internet, and lists of white and yellow page directories, library catalogs, and data archives. Directory Services provides white- and yellow-page service along with access tools using Netfind and X.500 protocols through WAIS, Archie, electronic mail, telnet, and Gopher. Database Services opens access to databases, documents and other information, including special arrangements for customized databases, database design, maintenance and management. …

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