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Introduction to the Internet
Guide for People who are New to The Internet
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The Internet, or more precisely the World Wide Web, is a large set of pages linked together. It's useful and informative, and is a means to social change. It's a new frontier, a new world of stuff going on. However, surprisingly, it's possible to wander into it without an introduction. Surely it would make sense for there to be a guide to it, at least to help people to be forewarned of some of the hazards that are present in this brave new world?
I'd have thought Lonely Planet would be printing a book like a traveller's guide to the Internet, but no, it seems they're sticking to geography.
So, I thought, I'll write something; a Guide to the Internet, an Internet Introduction. That way, people will be able to look at this page and it will make sense! The thing is, when you start reading stuff on The Internet, no-one tells you that the highlighted underlined things are LINKS. Well, they are. What happens is, you can link from one page to another by moving your mouse about and putting the pointer over a link, and then you click the left mouse-button and suddenly you are looking at a new page. You can try this. Link Here. You can come back by pressing the "Back" button. (The "back" button is usually in the top-left and has a "<" symbol on it. It's an old tradition with an assumption that things go naturally from left to right).
The Internet has thousands of millions of pages, and any page can have a link to any other page. Links can go from a page to another page within a website, or can go from a page at one website to a quite different page at another website. There is no authority to run The Internet; it's a global Anarchy, the shape of things to come. However, each website is run by whoever runs that website. These are separate kingdoms, castles, or "domains". You can set up your own domain and have your own website. See, there are instructions on how you can do this!
However, you may read stuff on the Internet anyway, regardless of whether you have your own website and write your own stuff. The Internet is a free resource of knowledge, some of it more reliable, and some less reliable. It's best to consider several different sources of information when making your mind up about what's true.
If you visited the Wild Wild West (www), you'd survive best if you took sensible precautions. Being able to ride a horse, and being able to shoot straight would be handy. The Internet also has a few basic things you need to be clued-up on. Most of the banditry operates via e-mail, and you can save yourself a lot of trouble by configuring good choices of e-mail and by being aware in advance that e-mail messages are not always what they seem. Most e-mail is junkmail (known strangely as "spam" after the pork luncheon meat). You should never buy anything from random e-mail as you could easily end up scammed. Be especially aware of messages from banks (messages pretending to be from banks). You can defend yourself against at least 90% of the trouble by being able to read a web address. Also, note: You have not won any such thing as an "e-mail ballot", and you are not a beneficiary to any Nigerian multi-million dollar award. Such things are scams based on total naivety of the victim. I have stuffed-and-mounted several such scams for you to view safely without any risk of being bitten. See the Rogues Gallery
But let's get this in proportion. The Internet is mainly good, and there is only a small proportion of dishonesty, unethical pornography, and stuff set up to try to lead you astray.
You can safely sit with your children driving around the Internet, as if you were teaching them to drive a car on an abandoned airfield. It is a matter of balanced risk-management, and a bit of good sense goes a long way to provide your own inbuilt safety.
You can save your computer from being damaged by viruses by using anti-virus measures. This is prevention, and is much better than trying to cure problems after they've happened.
It's interesting. Learning about the Internet is something most of us do in later life, as school is no longer a way of learning everything we are expected to know throughout life. Instead of "learning for life", we now have "life-long learning". Most people are living by skills they learnt after they left school. I left university in 1983 and I set up my own Internet company in 2000. They didn't teach HTML when I was at university.
Shopping online is mostly safe, and affiliates are generally reputable, but beware of voucher codes as most are not genuine. I also advise against buying via spam and any kind of intrusive advertising such as pop-ups. By the way, there are no pop-ups at this site, so if you see any then your computer has caught spyware and you need to remove spyware to avoid intrusive problems. This advice is part of a general freedom campaign which includes being able to set your own homepage
The Internet is global and is a bit like on those old short wave radio sets where you can tune into any channel broadcasting from anywhere in the world. Selecting the channel is very easy, and you put the address into the address bar, except that unlike phone numbers and radio frequencies it's a www name. The fact that the Internet is made up of millions of "radio stations" (web-sites) which are largely independent, is one of the things that gives it strength. There is widespread freedom of expression among the vast set of broadcasters, all of which are available to whoever wishes to tune in to them. I am ZYRA and my main callsigns are www.zyra.org.uk and www.zyra.net (it's important to get these right as guesses can produce erroneous results). In the old days Britain claimed to have Freedom of Speech because of "Speakers' Corner" which was a small region near Hyde Park where people could stand on soap-boxes and broadcast verbally to a few people who might happen to listen. But now we have The Internet, we can transmit from soap-boxes with aerials as high as the RKO Tower. Anyone can do this, and it doesn't have to be expensive. See how to get your own website. Please understand this is the true Internet, and don't get caught out by inferior systems that are subservient to political interests, eg. Social Networking sites. Some of these are harmless fun and some are already discredited as politically divisive. In contrast, the real spirit of The Internet continues in free media and is like the Spirit of the Shortwave
Curiously, some people are mysteriously afraid of The Internet as they seem to associate it with "computers". Note, though, that you can use the radio and TV without having to have a knowledge of the electronic wizardry that goes on within. Similarly, "computers" are a go-between that happens to be involved. You can inflate a party balloon without needing to understand latex rubber farming.
Another common Internet-fear is the idea that there are a lot of bad things out there. Well, maybe there are, but in the same way as you're never more than 20ft from a rat, it is something that should not worry you, as very rarely will you come face-to-face with the things you might fear. The Internet is surprisingly well-signposted, as it's in the interests of anyone running a website to attract people who are keen on the subject-matter there, and to avoid upsetting people by attracting people who are averse to it. Plus, your own good-sense can save you from various problems.
You're reasonably safe looking around Zyra.org.uk , though.
If you're not a beginner to the Internet, and you've got your own website, please add a link to this page, as it will help people who are new to the Internet. The safe deep-linking address of this page is www.zyra.net/internet-intro.htm