First, the World Wide Web is a global network, located on the Internet (also known sometimes as the "Information Superhighway"), that allows users to connect to a wide host of information. One of its key features is its ability to format text and graphics on the same page, as well as to provide access to sound files, video, photographs, and other multimedia material.
Second, it allows users easy access to other materials located on the Internet using what is called hypertext. Access to such materials is accomplished by links, which typically are words or phrases that are underlined and usually in a different color from the other text. (Note: to return to this page after linking to another document, move the mouse cursor over the "back" button, sometimes indicated by a left arrow. If no such button is visible on your screen, check under the "Go" heading.)
Examples of links include this, a link to the Ole Miss Home Page, while this will take you to the White House's Home Page and this link will send you to "Thomas," a repository of information about Congressional legislation. If you are using a graphical browser such as Netscape, the way to access such links is to move your mouse pointer over the link and click the button (if using Macintosh) or the left button (on IBM machines).
Notice in the previous paragraph how links can be incorporated into the text without comment. It is not necessary, or even preferable most of the time, that links be "announced."
However, links are not necessarily confined to words of text. Graphics, too, can be made to link to other files. Oftentimes, graphics have a border around them to indicate a link (the same color of text links), but such borders are not absolutely necessary. Here are examples of graphics being used as links: the first has the "link" border, while the second does not. In general, I prefer to use graphical links without the border.
Normally, when you use a graphical browser, your mouse cursor changes to a finger when it is over a link. This is useful in determining whether a graphic links to something else.
A couple of other special things you might find on the Web are image maps and forms An Image map is essentially a graphic image which has been coded so that if you click on different areas of the image, you will be connected to different materials. An excellent example of such an image map is at the White House. Image maps can be useful, but oftentimes they take a long time to load (especially for dial-up users) and sometimes they are difficult to use--as when you click on an area that has not been formatted for a specific file.
Forms, on the other hand, can be very useful resources. A number of World Wide Web "search engines," which allow you to search documents on the Internet for words and phrases, use forms. One such search form is at the Yahoo Home Page. "Yahoo" is a fairly comprehensive index of sites on the World Wide Web, divided into categories--the home page, however, also includes a search form. To use it, point your mouse cursor to the text box, type the word(s) you want to search for and then click on the "Search" button. For a much more comprehensive example of forms on the Web, check out the link for "Considering Ole Miss" at the Ole Miss Home Page; a link to the undergraduate application form can be found a few clicks away. Prospective students to Ole Miss can now send their complete application via the World Wide Web. (Note: if you're already enrolled, I strongly recommend that you not fill out this form. Who knows what might happen?)
A Universal Resource Locator, or "URL" (pronounced like the name "earl") is essentially the "address" for any individual file available on the World Wide Web. If you know the URL for a file, you can access it by selecting the "Open" button (or selecting "Open Location" under the "FILE" menu) and typing the URL in the space provided. URL's are divided into several parts which a Web browser such as Netscape can read. For example, consider the URL for this page:
The first part of this URL--HTTP--tells the program what kind of file to attempt to access. "HTTP" stands for "hypertext transfer protocol," and this is the "standard" way of accessing documents on the World Wide Web. Other less-used methods of access include GOPHER, TELNET, FTP and MAILTO.
"Gopher" is an older menu-driven system similar to hypertext but which does not allow mixing graphics and text on the same page (though graphics can be accessed via this method). While it is not as commonly used today, it is still useful in some cases. Go here to see an example of a Gopher listing. (Click on the "Back" button to return here.)
"Telnet" and the related "TN3270" options allow you to log on to remote systems as a user--many on-line library catalogs use this method. To go to the Ole Miss library catalog, go here, and enter "olemiss" as your login name. To access your Sunset account and read your E-mail, you can go here. (Note: "telnet" and "tn3270" are separate programs that must be launched from within your Web browser. If your computer does not have them installed, or if your browser does not know where they are located on your hard drive, you will not be able to access them.)
"FTP" stands for "file transfer protocol," and this simply allows you to download (to save to your hard drive) program and/or data files located at a remote site.
Finally, "MAILTO" is a special feature that does exactly what it sounds like: it allows you to send E-mail to the user specified in the link. To send me E-mail right now, and let me know that you've been reading this document, go here. Be sure to sign your name and user ID so I'll know who you are.
So much for the first part of this file's URL. The second part of the URL--www.olemiss.edu--indicates what is known as a "domain site." This simply means the physical location on the Internet. As its name suggests, this is Ole Miss's main Internet address. "WWW.OLEMISS.EDU," by the way, is simply a shortcut way to access your E-mail site (sunset.backbone.olemiss.edu) via the World Wide Web.
The remainder of this file's URL--~egjbp/info.html--includes directory and file information. The tilde (~) creates a symbolic link to my user directory on Sunset; it corresponds, as you can see, to my user ID. The actual file you are reading (which I wrote at home on a word processor) is "info.html." The "HTML" suffix, incidentally, is the World Wide Web's way of knowing this is a "HyperText MetaLanguage" file--in other words, it's a plain text file which has certain codes that allows the program to format it properly on the screen.To view the "source code," click on "View" at the top of the screen and select "View Source." You'll see the codes used to create links, bold-face type, etc., enclosed in less-than and greater-than marks.
That is probably more than you need to know to use the World Wide Web. To return to my home page, scroll to the bottom of this screen and click on the graphic that reads "Annex." This graphic (or "icon") will indicate throughout these files a link back to my home page.
Links in Lynx (note the pun) are normally indicated by brighter text. To link to other locations, use the up and down arrow keys to move from link to link--whenever a link is selected, it will appear to be highlighted on your screen. To move backward to a previously selected file, you may use the left arrow key. To quit, press "Q."
I have been using Lynx on the Sunset machine the past day or two, and for some reason the formatting has been very poor--lots of "trash" text remains on the screen. There is no way, at least so far as I know of, to correct this problem. The Computer Help Desk (5222) may be able to help, but otherwise, be advised that some words may appear very awkward on your screen.