Navigating the Internet

I will assume that most are using Netscape in order to navigate the Internet. Other browsers are certainly available (Mosaic, the Internet Explorer, America on Line, etc.) and each has its particular quirks. But the basic process is pretty much the same.

The first step is to open Netscape by double-clicking on the Netscape icon. You will be greeted by the default opening page for your own particular system (on Mount Holyoke College computers, the default page is the Mount Holyoke College home page). There are a series of commands at the top of the page, but at this stage we can ignore those commands. Below those commands are boxes labeled Back, Forward, Home, Reload, Images, Open, Print, Find, and Stop.

To access the syllabus for the course, click on the box labeled Open. A new dialogue box will appear on the screen and in the blank you should type:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pol116/fall00.htm

If everything is working properly, you should see the syllabus for the course on the screen. If you wish to save this location on the computer on which you are working, then go to the top of the page and click the word Bookmark. When the options for book mark appear, click on Add Bookmark. The nest time you use that particular computer (and only that particular computer) you can simply click on Bookmark and then click on the heading for the syllabus. You can bookmark any site on the Internet. You must, however, be at the site when you add a bookmark. Be careful about adding too many sites: the system becomes unwieldy after a while.

Any site can be opened from the Open box. Be sure that you type in the address correctly, however. Errors in typing the gobbledygook inherent in an Internet address (called the URL) are difficult to avoid.

To print any document on the Internet, you merely have to click on the box labeled Print. Most of the time, this command will work. There are limits, however, on the size of the files which can be printed. Avoid printing out very large documents. Images and pictures also present some problems for certain printers. If you wish to print out very complex sites, be sure you are connected to a heavy duty printer.

Once you are on the Internet, you can easily go from site to site. Within most sites are links to other sites: these links are distinguished by a different color text (the conventional format is to make links blue and underlined). By clicking on these links, you will be sent to that next site. Your computer will keep a list of all the sites you have visited: click on the History command at the top of the page, and a complete listing of your sites for the current visit (and only the current visit) will be available. Clicking on any of those sites will bring you back to those sites. Alternatively, you can click on the Back and Forward boxes to revisit any sites in the current history listing.

Some Interesting Sites

You will find virtually anything you wish to find on the Internet, but there are some easy ways to locate specific information. A number of organizations support what are called search engines. These search engines allow you to type in some specific words which the engine will then seek out. Obviously, the more specific you can be, the better-there are a tremendous number of documents on the Internet. Here are some of the more popular engines.

Yahoo: http://www.yahoo.com

Digital: http://www.altavista.digital.com

Google:  http://www.google.com 

Northern Light:  http://www.northernlight.com

Using Search Engines is a task which becomes easier as you learn the different techniques of searching. The magazine, PC Computing, did an excellent review of the different techniques and engines. If you wish to see the article, then click here.

There are also some sites to visit for basic information. I recommend that you check the internet news services regularly for an update on the news. Some addresses are:

CNN: http://www.cnn.com

BBC World News Service:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sitemap/index.shtml 

National Public Radio Online:  http://news.npr.org/newsNow.jhtml?groupNews=3&audioNews=58

One can also access the New York Times on-line edition.  The New York Times will ask you to register, which involves creating a name for yourself and a password.  As of September 2000, there was no charge for this service and there apparently is little risk in registering. 

Some Words on the Internet

The Internet is still a work in progress. We really have no idea what it is and how to use it properly or effectively. There are reasons to be excited about the Net. Obviously, there is a tremendous amount of information, and much of that information is more current than is usually available through normal channels such as a library. One of the most impressive aspects of the Internet is the fact that many voices can be viewed, including voices that ordinarily are not given access to traditional information outlets such as newspapers and magazines.

There is, however, a profoundly negative side to the Internet. None of the information is screened and many sites are highly offensive. I would give you two bits of advice. First, do not give out any personal information. We do not know how such information will be used and a great deal of circumspection is warranted. Second, use your judgment in viewing sites: some sites are written by persons who lack good judgment and hold offensive values. If you do not have a strong stomach, your only protection is to avoid those sites.


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