Research Tools - Fall 1995
If you have "surfed the Internet," now it is time to move on and "crawl the Web," that is to say, the World Wide Web. The Web is an information service providing links between the various computer networks on the Internet. Since its initial conception in 1989, the World Wide Web has continued to grow in number of sites to a total of over 15,768 as of March 1995 (December, John and Neil Randall. The World Wide Web Unleashed. Indianapolis: Sams.net Publishing, 1995, p. 1103)
WHY THE WEB?
Remember all of the commands you had to learn and type in to get to various Internet sites.' There were FTP Gopher, and Telnet, as well as. Archie and Veronica. The World Wide Web eliminates the chore of typing in commands. What the Web provides is a seamless, graphical, user-friendly way to tap the resources available on the Internet.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Web enables the user to do this through something called "hypertext" links. Hypertext is a way of linking documents using logical concepts across the Internet. Say, for instance, you are at a site on the Internet with these links reading an article about flowers. When you come to the individual flowers' names they may be highlighted. This indicates that they are hypertext links. If you want more information on an individual flower all you would have to do is to click on the highlighted name and you would be brought directly into a document held at another site with information about that flower. There would he no long addresses to type, no searching through directories to documents with Unix file names. You would be instantly in the document with the information that you were seeking.
Library Resources Expanded On World Wide Web
These links can go beyond just links to individual documents. World Wide Web sites usually provide links to other sites with related information on the Web. This is one of the most exciting aspects of the Web because it leads to serendipitous discover!. It is so easy to wander from site to site, almost like browsing the stacks of a library. One interesting site usually leads to another. As you can see, using the Web can be habit forming, time consuming, and great fun!
HOW IS SEARCHING WITH THE WEB DIFFERENT?
Gopher, as compared to the Web, is set up more as a hierarchy. You go from menu to menu of directories and documents selecting the ones you want. On the Web the selection is more intuitive. Logical links have been established to information resources. You click on the highlighted word(s), and you are in the document you have selected. FTPing information requires looking through a directory of file names written in Unix code and deciding which ones you want to take back to your mail box. On the Web, clicking on a document name with a hypertext link established will bring that document to you.
SO HOW DO YOU GET ONTO THE WEB?
In order to use the graphical features of the Web, you will need a PC that is able to run Windows, preferably a 486 machine or a Macintosh computer. You also will need a special kind of software referred to as a "browser." A few of the current popular browser programs are Mosaic, Netscape, and Cello. What a good browser program will do is allow you to have access to sites on the Web while enabling you to continue to use the regular Internet utilities such as FTP, gopher, e-mail, etc.
If you have a PC that can't "do" Windows, don't panic! The Web is also accessible through a non-graphical browser program called Lynx. Lynx allows you to select the hypertext links in a Web document by using your cursor keys instead of a mouse. Lynx is available via anonymous FTP to ftp2.cc.ukans.edu. The files are located in directory: /pub/lynx. (December, p. 143).
You will also need a service provider that can give you access to the Internet and the Web. Computing & Data Services presents special Internet seminars on installing and using Enhanced NCSA Mosaic for University faculty and staff. If you want to access the Internet and the Web from home you will need to locate a service provider in this area. Two such providers are EPIX and the Internet Cafe.
The addresses to Web sites are a little different from the usual Internet
address. A Web address is referred to as a URL: Uniform Resource Locator. A typical Web address would look as follows:
The http refers to Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This part of the address allows the retrieval of documents from different sources on the Internet. What follows after the double slashes is the address of the Web site. The ending of this address html indicates that the document to be retrieved through the Web is in Hypertext Markup Language. This means that it will contain hypertext links to other documents and sites on the Web.
EVERY WEB NEEDS A SPIDER
Spiders are programs that "crawl" through the Web on a regular basis locating sites and creating subject indexes of their locations. When you visit a Web site with a powerful "spider" program it will allow you to query for information and then display the sites it has found. Besides spiders, there are also sites that are subject list indexes that have been handcrafted. These are good places to go if you are looking for documents on a particular subject matter.
INFORMATION ON THE WEB
With all of the information on the Web it is important to keep in mind that not all of the information one can retrieve is accurate or complete. Web and Internet resources in general are "not a substitute for a library or a good reference librarian." (December, p. 411) The Web, with its vast quantity of information, can be overwhelming. It also can he time consuming to try to jump from site to site to locate a piece of data. You can often save hours of frustration by visiting the Reference Desk of the library for your information needs!
WORLD WIDE WEB SITES TO EXPLORE
The following sites are just a small sample of what's currently out there on the Web. Some of these sites may still be "under construction," in other words, not all of the links to other locations or information are complete. However, all of them are interesting to use and will get you to some neat places.
UNIVERSITY OF SCRANTON HOME PAGE
This is the University's own Home Page. It is currently "under construction." Address: http://www.uofs.edu
SPIDERS AND INDEXES
Lycos: an easy to use spider program that will allow you to put in search strategies for information. It collects information from Web sires using titles, headings, and subheadings of documents.
World Wide Web Worm: one of the oldest spider programs. Its database is only periodically updated. It can search in titles of documents or look for keywords. Address: http://www.cs.colorado.edu/home/mcbryan/www.html
Yahoo: this is considered one of the best index programs for the Web. You can perform subject searches for information or browse the subject list.
WWW Virtual Library: compiled by the original developers of the World Wide Web: CERN, MIT, and INRLA. Contains an alphabetical listing of subjects currently maintained. Look under Other References, Overview of the Web for the link.
Library of Congress: provides links to special exhibits, collections, country studies, and the LC Marvel Subject Index.
WEB GUIDES, TUTORIALS, SOFTWARE
Library of Congress: a good location to hit if you want to know more about the Web or how to get started using it. Browser software locations are given as well. Connect from here to the Library of Congress Home Page.
Internet Tools Summary: explains Internet utilities and tools, such as FTP, fingering, etc.
Thomas: provides legislative information direct from the U.S. Congress. Includes full text of legislation, hot bills, e-mail addresses for Senators and Congressmen. Senate Gopher, House of Representatives Gopher, C-SPAN Gopher, and more.
Census Bureau: provides population and economic statistics and information based on the 1990 census data. Also allows you to send e-mail inquiries to census specialists.
Government Services Administration (GSA): provides links to some popular government locations including: Consumer lnformation Center, Government. Electronic Mall, IT Policy OnRamp, Federal Information Center, GSA Advantage On-line Shopping, Office of Management Services and Human Resources, Center on Information Technology Accommodation, Office of Information Security, Office of Acquisition Policy, Federal Protective Service.
Internal Revenue Service: get tax forms online or tax help to meet the April deadline.
Social Security Administration Online: provides statistical data, speeches, handbooks, papers, and searchable archives put out by the Social Security Administration.
AskERIC Virtual Library: find information on a variety of education topics. Put out by ERIC.
U.S. Dept. of Education: provides access to educational statistical data and research on teaching and learning. Numerous links to other educational resources including: ERIC Clearinghouses, National Parent Information Network, Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science, Regional Lab Home Page, National Center on Adult Literacy, National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, National Research Center on Student Learning, to name just a few.
COMMERCIAL SITES AND CONSUMER INFORMATION
Consumer Information Center: Bureau of Consumer Affairs sire provides information on products, consumer issues, and related information including credit card fraud, credit unions, business.
Open Market's Commercial Sites Index: provides an alphabetical index to over 9740 sites. Allows keyword searching for sites. Now you can order a Harley Davidson tee-shirt directly from the company in the privacy of your own home/office PC.
BUSINESS, ECONOMICS AND FINANCE
Small Business Administration: this government agency provides help in getting your business up and running as well as upgrading an existing business.
Experimental Stock Market Data: daily stock prides are updated automatically from California between 7 p.m. EDT and 9 p.m. EDT. Not all stocks are included. Stock prices are "deemed reliable, but never guaranteed." Information is provided by MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
SEC EDGAR Database: provides information on the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as EDGAR documentation. This information is provided by the Internet Multicasting Service.
FinanceNet: provides a link to financial management information in the private and public sectors, state and local government, federal government, academia, and industry. Has links to the GPO Database, U.S. Code, Comptroller General Decisions. Maintained by the NetResults network at Vice President Gore's office of the National Performance Review.