The Art of Surfing
The "World Wide Web" ... an
electronic, information super-highway, is just what it sounds like. You
can "be" in Singapore one minute and Iceland the next. You can find out
about graveyards in Siberia this morning and birth certificates in
Mexico this afternoon. There is no end to the amount of knowledge
instantly available to us now.
However, the Web is more than
just a reference tool. It's also a place to hang out, look around and
explore. And yet sometimes it feels hard to navigate. (It's easy to get
trapped into vicious web circles. Homepage to search engine to results
page, and nothing new in between. But it doesn't have to be that way...)
Whether your homepage is
Netscape, Hotbot, Yahoo!, Alta Vista, AOL, your ISP, your college, or
your company's intranet, it pays to know where else you can go to get
started. Many sites specialize in filtering the web -- weeding out the
best, the newest, and the weirdest sites available. Some sites feature a
different link every day or week. Bookmark some of these starting points
and you'll be surfing like a pro in no time.
It's in the
Very often people include their
own collections of related links on the sites they build. You may have
noticed a few on some of your favorite destinations.
have genealogical links to web sites all over the world. It's
this type of linking that makes the Web a "web" in the true sense of the
word. And as a surfer, you can take advantage of other people's
explorations. The next time you visit one of your own preferred sites,
look for the links. You might find yourself headed in an unexpected,
somewhat "cool" direction.
AlaskaWeb has a small page of
links you might find helpful. Look for it on the Research page.
The Internet, unlike other media
such as TV or radio, is a "two-way" medium. The ease with which a
computer user can communicate to the rest of the world has created a
sense of "global community" that's found almost nowhere else. People
around the world post web sites, exchange e-mail, and participate in
Going online means not just
surfing the Web and reading e-mail. It means getting involved in the
whole Net community.
The earliest internet-based
communication was e-mail, then came electronic bulletin boards, or
forums. Both of
these systems are still used today.
While most people are assigned
e-mail addresses through their ISPs, free accounts are available to
anyone who has access to a web-ready computer. Free services such as
allow users to access their email from work, home, or anywhere they can
launch a web browser. Once you've got e-mail, you'll find plenty of uses
for it on the Web.
Most web pages and online authors
provide e-mail addresses for visitors to send comments, questions, or
just conversation. Not everyone answers their e-mail, but a surprisingly
high number of authors do. Who knows, they might just be able to unlock
that closed genealogy door you've been facing.
When you're ready to step up to
the next level, try online message boards. The original brand of online
discussion groups is Usenet. If your browser is properly configured, you
should be able to browse, read, and post to any one of 20,000+
newsgroups. But first, you need to be able to locate everything you
want! The next subject, internet search engines, will cover a little of
Internet Search Engines
"For the Beginner"