What is the Information Superhighway?
The part of the Information Superhighway that is most often referred to in the popular media is the Internet. "Going online" refers to getting connected to the Internet or other commercial service, usually via a telephone line.
*Boldface terms are defined in the Glossary.
The Internet, sometimes called the Net, is a vast group of interconnected computer networks that spans the globe. It has many features, but is generally a way to communicate, use information tools, and find boundless amounts of information from an unlimited number of sources.
The Internet makes possible a number of online functions such as e-mail, a way of sending messages electronically from one computer user to another; chat rooms, which are places online where you can communicate with others instantaneously using your keyboard; and discussion groups, places where you can read and post information about particular topics.
There is unlimited information on the Internet, but it can be like a big library without a card catalogue to help find the books you might be looking for. Search engines exist to help with this. With a search engine you can sort through vast amounts of online information to pinpoint the material you want. Search engines work by matching words you enter into the computer with the same words found in various information sites on the Internet.
What has helped the Internet become more popular is the development of the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web (WWW or the Web) is a network of sites on the Internet which have words, sounds, and pictures. It is its visual quality that distinguishes the Web from the rest of the Internet. Here, commercial companies, nonprofit organizations, the government, and individuals supply lots of information on just about any subject imaginable. In fact, many organizations and commercial outlets are creating "content" or information aimed directly at kids of all ages, and kids are spending a lot of time on the Web.
A necessary tool for exploring the Web is a browser, a program that lets you view what's on the Web. Examples of popular browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Browsers make it very easy to move from Web site to Web site and back again. You can use a browser to visit Web sites with search engines that help you find what you want to see. Examples of sites with search engines include: www.Yahoo.com, www.Excite.com, www.Lycos.com, www.AltaVista.com, www.Infoseek.com, www.WebCrawler.com, and www.Magellan.com.