At NetNation, we appreciate that navigating through the amazing
alphabet soup of acronyms, abbreviations and just plain unfamiliar-sounding
words can be a challenge. So we've compiled a glossary of web,
Internet and general tech terms. It's by no means exhaustive,
but we've tried to select terms we think are important to a
well-rounded understanding of the field.
Acrobat Reader: A stand-alone
program or web browser plug-in from Adobe that lets users
view a PDF file in its original format and appearance.
Address, email: The
specific location of an electronic mailbox on the Internet.
Address, web page:
The specific location of a single web page on the Internet.
Address, web site: The
specific location of a web site on the Internet.
ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber
Line): An ADSL circuit connects two specific locations
(similar to a leased line) but at much greater speed than
a regular phone connection. Theoretically, ADSL should allow
download speeds of up to 9 Mbps and upload speeds of up to
ANSI (American National Standards
Institute): The American body responsible for setting
telecommunications standards in the U.S.
Application Service Provider (ASP):
Application Service Providers in essence rent access to the
latest and most popular software programs over the Internet.
ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects
Agency Network): This precursor to the Internet was created
in the late '60s and early '70s by the U.S. Defense Department
as an experiment in wide-area networking that would survive
a nuclear war.
ASCII (American Standard Code for
Information Interchange): The world-wide standard for
code numbers used by computers to represent all upper and
lowercase Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There
are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented
by a seven-digit binary number
ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode):
A common Internet protocol for transferring data across the
Auto Responder: Automatically
sends a text file reply when an email is received.
Backbone: A high-speed line
or series of connections forming a major pathway within a
network, which carries data gathered from smaller connections
that interconnect with it.
Bandwidth: Measures the amount
of information that can be transmitted over a network, normally
measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). Simple HTML
web pages do not require a large amount of bandwidth, but
full-motion video does.
Baud: The baud rate of a modem
measures how many bits it can send or receive per second.
Technically, baud is the number of times per second the carrier
signal shifts value.
BBS (Bulletin Board System): A
computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people
to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make
Binhex (BINary HEXadecimal):
A method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII.
Bit (Binary DigIT): The smallest
unit of computerized data.
BITNET (Because It's Time NETwork
or Because It's There NETwork): A network of educational
sites separate from the Internet.
Bps (Bits-Per-Second): A measurement
of how fast data is moved from one place to another.
Browser, web: A computer
program that opens and displays web pages. Microsoft's Internet
Explorer and Netscape's Netscape are common web browsers.
Byte: A set of bits that represent
a single character. Usually there are eight bits in a byte,
sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is made.
CGI (Common Gateway Interface):
The method of passing data back and forth between the web
server and the application program is called the common gateway
interface (CGI). CGI "scripts" are used for tasks such as
submitting forms to a web server.
Client: A software program used
to contact and obtain data from a server software program
on another computer. Each client program is designed to work
with one or more specific kinds of server programs, and each
server requires a specific kind of client. A web browser is
a specific kind of client.
Colocation: A basic service
offered by web hosts for customers who own their own web servers.
Colocation includes the rental of space in the data centre
as well as the connection of the web server to the Internet.
Conferencing: A group-wide
online communication process, conducted either via the Internet
or an organizational intranet. Conference participants can
view online presentations, communicate with each other via
chat software or interact one-on-one with audio software and
Cookie: Refers to a piece of
information sent by a web server to a web browser that the
browser software saves and sends back to the server. Cookies
might contain information such as login or registration information,
online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc.
Cookies can not read hard drives but can gather information
about a user's on-line habits.
CyberCashT: A commercial
provider of digital cash services that allows users to securely
process credit card transactions 24 hours a day, seven days
a week. CyberCash works with all popular browsers, as well
as the majority of Internet hardware, software, servers, communication
protocols and web store applications.
Cyberpunk: Originally a subgenre
of science fiction taking place in a dystopian society, the
term grew out of the work of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
and is now a cultural label.
Cyberspace: This term, originated
by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer, is now
used to describe the wide range of information resources available
through computer networks.
Digital cash: A system
of purchasing cash credits in relatively small amounts, storing
the credits in your computer, and then spending them when
making electronic purchases over the Internet.
Disk space: A measure of
hard drive storage, normally measured in megabytes (MB).
Domain name: An individual's
or company's unique address (www.netnation.com) on the Internet.
A domain name is made up of an identifying name followed by
a period and a multiple-letter extension such as .com, .org,
.net, .edu or a country code such as .ca or .uk
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line):
A method of moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit
is much faster than a regular phone connection but the wires
coming into the subscriber's premises are the same as those
used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured
to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange):
Also referred to as electronic commerce or e-commerce.
E-commerce (Electronic Commerce):
The transacting of business electronically via the Internet.
email (Electronic Mail): Messages,
usually text, sent from one person to another via the Internet.
email Aliasing: Allows
users to have multiple addresses for one POP mailbox.
Ethernet: A common method
of networking computers in a LAN (Local Area Network). An
Ethernet can handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can
be used with almost any kind of computer.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):
FAQs are web site documents that list and answer the most
common questions on a particular subject.
FDDI (Fibre Distributed Data Interface):
A standard for transmitting data on optical fibre cables at
a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as
fast as an Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3).
Fire wall: A combination
of hardware and software located at the gateway server of
a network that protects information contained within the network
from users outside the network (on the Internet).
Flash (Macromedia): A standard
for interactive vector graphics and animation for the web.
web designers use Flash to create beautiful, resizable and
compact navigation interfaces, technical illustrations, long-form
animations and other effects. Graphics and animation will
anti-alias and scale based on the viewer's screen size, providing
FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A
common method of moving files between two Internet sites for
the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files.
Gateway: A hardware or software
set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols.
GIF (Graphic Interchange Format):
A common format for image files, especially suitable for images
containing large areas of the same colour.
Gigabyte: 1,000 or 1,024 megabytes,
depending on the method of measurement used.
Gopher: A widely successful
method of making menus of material available over the Internet.
Statistics: Creates graphs that depict the amount of traffic
to a given site, what documents are being accessed, and who
is accessing them.
Hit: When used in reference to
the World Wide web, "hit" means a single request from a web
browser for a single item from a web server. For a web browser
to display a page that contains three graphics, four "hits"
would occur at the server-one for the HTML page and one for
each of the three graphics.
Host, web: A company that
hosts web sites.
Hosting, dedicated: A
web server that is dedicated to hosting the web sites of a
Hosting, shared: A web
server that hosts web sites for multiple customers.
Hosting, web: The storage
of a web site and delivery of that web site to the Internet.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language):
The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for
use on the World Wide web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned
typesetting code, where blocks of text are surrounded with
codes that indicate how it should appear. Information is encased
in special markers (called tags) that tell the WWW applications
how the text is to be interpreted. HTML is a universal language
that allows computers with different operating systems to
understand one another.
HTML+: This proposed new standard
is a superset of HTML, designed to extend the capabilities
of the language and incorporate better support for multimedia
objects in documents.
Http (HyperText Transfer Protocol):
The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet.
Requires an http client program on one end and an http server
program on the other. Http is the most important protocol
used on the World Wide web.
Http Streaming: An alternative
approach to serving Real Audio files on the web. Although
this technique is not well-suited for high-volume sites serving
numerous simultaneous streams, many smaller web sites can
benefit from this simple, inexpensive approach. Relies on
http used by all web servers to store and transmit ordinary
text and graphics files on the web.
Hypertext: Text that contains
links to other documents. Words or phrases in the document
can be chosen by a reader, which cause another document to
be retrieved and displayed.
internet (lower case i):
Any time two or more networks are connected together, you
have an internet.
Internet (upper case I): The
vast collection of interconnected networks that all use the
TCP/IP protocols and that grew out of the U.S. Defense Department's
ARPANet of the late '60s and early '70s.
Internet Service Provider: A single
computer network, connected to the Internet, that provides
access for individual computers to the Internet.
Intranet: A network of linked
computers maintained by a company or other organization. Employees
can access information specific to their company via the intranet.
IP (Internet Protocol): The protocol
that allows computers and networks on the Internet to communicate
with one another.
IP Number (Internet Protocol
Number): Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number
consisting of four parts separated by dots. Every machine
on the Internet has an IP number.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital
Network): A way to move more data over existing regular
phone lines and can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second
over regular phone lines.
ISVs: Independent Software Vendors.
Java: A network-oriented programming
language invented by Sun Microsystems specifically designed
for writing programs that can be safely downloaded to computers
through the Internet. Using small Java programs (called "applets"),
web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators,
language used most often in web pages to add features that
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group):
A format for transmitting photographic image files.
Keyword: Words and phrases
used by search engines to categorize web site content.
Kilobyte: A thousand bytes or,
more accurately, 1,024 bytes.
LAN (Local Area Network): A computer
network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building
or floor of a building.
Leased line: Refers to
a phone line that is rented for exclusive, 24-hour, 7-days-a-week
use from one location to another. Highest speed data connections
require a leased line.
MAN: Metropolitan Area Network.
Megabyte: A million bytes or, more
accurately, 1024 kilobytes.
Merchant banks: Companies
that establish bank accounts enabling other companies to accept
credit card payments.
Microsoft NT: A popular
operating system for higher-end computers called workstations
as well as web servers and other types of servers.
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions):
The standard for attaching non-text files to standard Internet
mail messages. Non-text files include graphics, spreadsheets,
formatted word-processor documents, sound files, etc. Something
is considered MIME compliant if it can both send and receive
files using the MIME standard.
Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator): A
device that connects a computer to a phone line, and allows
the computer to talk to other computers through the phone
NAP (Network Access Point): One
of several major Internet interconnection points in the United
States that tie all Internet access providers together. NAPs
were created and supported by the National Science Foundation
as part of the transition from the original U.S. government-financed
Internet to a commercially operated Internet.
Netiquette: The etiquette
on the Internet.
Netizen: Refers to a citizen
of the Internet, someone who uses networked resources. The
term suggests participation and civic responsibility.
Newsgroup: The name for discussion
groups on USENET.
Node: Any single computer connected
to a network.
NT, Microsoft: A computer
operating system by Microsoft Corporation.
The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet
switching, all data from a machine is broken into packets;
each packet has the address of where it came from and where
it is going. This enables data from many different sources
to co-mingle on the same lines and be sorted and directed
to different routes by special machines along the way.
Personal CGI directory:
A feature that allows users to run any CGI script from a directory
located inside their home directory, provided the script conforms
to the terms and conditions of usage agreement.
Plug-in: A (usually small)
piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of
POP (Point of Presence, also Post Office
Protocol): A Point of Presence usually means a city or
location where a network can be connected to, often with dial-up
phone lines. A second meaning, Post Office Protocol, refers
to the way email software such as Eudora gets mail from a
mail server. A POP account means the same as an email account.
Port: That part of a web server
that handles requests for particular services (FTP, TELNET,
WWW). Each of those has its own port number, where it "listens"
Portal: Used to described a
web site that is or is intended to be the first place people
see when using the web. Typically a "portal site" has a catalogue
of web sites, a search engine, or both. A portal site may
also offer email and other service to entice people to use
that site as their main point of entry to the web.
Posting: A single message entered
into a network communications system.
PPP (Point to Point Protocol):
A protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone
line and a modem to make TCP/IP connections and be on the
PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network):
The old-fashioned telephone system.
Push media: This new method
of collecting information on the Internet allows users to
subscribe to a push agency that delivers all the information
one might need on a specific subject.
Real Audio and
Real Video: Real Networks' RealAudio and RealVideo system
is a client-server-based streaming media delivery system for
the Internet. Providers of news, entertainment, sports and
business content can create and deliver audio-based streaming
multimedia content through the Internet to audiences worldwide.
Redundancy: Refers to protection
against system failures. In data centres, for instance, to
ensure servers always have power supply, two power supplies
are used so that one takes over if the other one fails
Router: A special-purpose computer
(or software package) that handles the connection between
two or more networks. Routers look at the destination addresses
of the packets of information passing through them and deciding
which route to send them to.
Search Engine: A computer
program that searches the web to find web pages on a given
subject. Some well-known search engines are Alta Vista, Excite,
HotBot, Lycos, Infoseek, web Crawler and Yahoo!.
In e-commerce transactions, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption
technology provides for site authentication and peer-to-peer
secure communication. This allows for the safe transmittal
and receiving of sensitive information such as credit card
numbers or passwords.
Server: A computer, or a software
package, that provides a specific kind of service to client
software running on other computers. The term can refer to
a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to
the machine on which the software is running,
Shopping cart: Software
that allows customers on an e-commerce web site to select
items they wish to purchase and store them in their virtual
shopping cart. Customers can view, add or delete items in
their shopping cart before making their electronic purchase.
Shell account: An account
that gives access to a UNIX-based host computer. The user
can enter UNIX commands to operate this computer.
Sig or signature file: A small
ASCII text file automatically attached to the end of an email
message that includes additional information about the sender.
SMDS (Switched Multimegabit Data Service):
A new standard for very high-speed data transfer.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol):
The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet.
SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending
mail and a program receiving mail should interact.
Spam (or Spamming): An inappropriate
attempt to use a mailing list, USENET or other networked communications
facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it is not)
by sending the same message to a large number of people who
didn't request it.
Sysop (System Operator): Anyone
responsible for the physical operations of a computer system
or network resource. A system administrator decides how often
backups and maintenance should be performed and the system
operator carries out those tasks.
T-1: A leased-line connection capable
of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second.
T-3: A leased-line connection capable
of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet
Protocol): The suite of protocols that defines the Internet.
Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP
software is now available for every major kind of computer
Telnet: The command and program
used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet
command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host.
Terabyte: 1,000 gigabytes.
Traffic: The amount of data
transferred from one computer to another computer per unit
of time. Normally measured in megabytes (MB). For billing
purposes, traffic is normally quotes in MB per month. Traffic
is one of the variables by which most web hosting companies
charge their customers.
Truespeech: A high-quality
speech compression software that compresses speech down to
as much as 1/40th its original size. Since regular speech
files are normally large, compression using TrueSpeech enables
them to be transferred faster and more easily.
UNIX: Developed at Bell Labs in
1969 as an interactive time-sharing system, UNIX has evolved
into a type of freeware. Various versions of UNIX are available
from a number of companies.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator):
The standard address of any resource on the Internet that
is part of the World Wide web (WWW). One uses a URL by entering
it into a WWW browser program.
USENET: A world-wide system
of discussion groups operating among hundreds of thousands
of machines. Only about half of USENET machines are on the
Internet. USENET is decentralized and supports thousands of
discussion areas called newsgroups.
UUENCODE (Unix to Unix Encoding):
A method for converting files from Binary to ASCII (text)
so that they can be sent across the Internet via email.
WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers):
A commercial software package that allows the indexing of
huge quantities of information, and then makes them searchable
across networks such as the Internet.
WAN (Wide Area Network): Any internet
or network that covers an area larger than a single building
web Developer: An individual
or company that specializes in the development of web sites.
web developers handle all the programming aspects of creating
a web site such as HTML programming, creating graphics, adding
pictures, creating links, etc.
Software: Software that allows a user to write HTML and
create a web site without having HTML programming experience.
Wizard: Interactive help screens
that assist users in installing new software or performing
a complex operation such as publishing a web page.
World Wide web: An Internet
client-server system to distribute information, based upon
the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Also known as WWW,
W3 or the web and not synonymous with the Internet. Created
at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1991 by Dr. Tim Berners-Lee.
WYSIWYG: What You See Is What