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Glossary of Library and Internet Terms


A summary of an article. Abstracts often appear at the beginning of a scholarly or technical article. Periodical indexes and other databases often contain abstracts that can help you decide whether an article is relevant for your purposes.

account name See username

Advanced Research Projects Agency Network See ARPAnet

American Standard Code for Information Exchange See ASCII

anonymous ftp
A method of file transfer that allows a user to access and download files from a remote computer by logging on simply as "guest" or "anonymous." 

A search engine for archived files stored at anonymous ftp sites; a precursor to more sophisticated Web search engines. 

A collection of stored texts. On the Internet, these may be texts, programs, or images stored at an ftp site or a collection of messages saved from an electronic discussion group. 

ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network)
An electronic communications system developed by the U. S. Defense Department in the 1960s to aid communication in the event of a nuclear war. Nicknamed the "Net," ARPAnet was the original Internet. 

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange)
A format for text that can be recognized by computers. ASCII files are plain text files that use only ASCII characters without additional computer coding or formatting so that they can be transferred easily between computers running different software applications. 

asynchronous communication
Communication of a message that is not sent and received at the same time (synchronically). E-mail is a form of asynchronous communication. 

A file sent along with an e-mail message. If the attached file is encoded, transmitted, and decoded properly, the receiver of the e-mail can open the file and view the document in its original form. Unfortunately, attachments are sometimes rendered unusable because of differences in hardware or software configurations between a sender and a receiver or in network boundaries. 

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A list of references to published texts, usually appearing at the end of a research paper, an article, a book, or a chapter in a book. Some bibliographies list only the works cited in the work; others list recommended readings as well. Bibliographies are sometimes published as a whole work: a list of references on a given topic, sorted into subcategories. 

A function in a Web browser that allows users to mark frequently visited Web sites for easy accessibility. When you bookmark a site, the site's URL is added to a list that you can access through the browser window, usually with a drop-down or pop-up menu. 

Boolean operators
The words and, or, and not used in databases or search engines to relate the contents of two or more sets of data in different ways. When sets are combined with and, the resulting set contains only those items that are found in all the sets. When or is used, the resulting set includes all items from all sets. Not is used to exclude items in one set from the combination of sets. 

A program that allows users to follow links between texts written in hypertext markup language (html) on the World Wide Web. Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are commonly used browsers that can access text and graphics; Lynx is a text-only browser. 

bulletin board service (BBS)
An online service, usually accessed by modem, that offers centralized information files and e-mail services to subscribers. 

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call number
The letter and number combination that indicates where a book is kept on a library's shelves. Call numbers are assigned using a system that puts books on the same subject next to each other. Most academic libraries use the Library of Congress (LC) system; public libraries typically use the Dewey decimal system. 

CD-ROM (compact disc-read-only memory)
A disc that stores large amounts of digitized data. 

In an IRC, the location of a discussion, usually on a specific topic. Everyone who selects a channel can post messages and view other messages posted there. 

A person, computer, or browser that requests information on a computer network. 

compressed file
A file that takes up less electronic space and can thus be transmitted more quickly or stored more efficiently than it can in uncompressed form. A compressed file must be uncompressed by the appropriate application before it can be viewed. 

A small file used to store information about the Web sites that a user visits. Some users consider cookies a security risk. If the cookie feature is enabled in a user's browser, a Web site can store information on the user's hard drive, including a customized profile of the user at a site, items the user may have purchased at a site, and so on. 

See Webliography

The virtual space occupied by anything and everything on the Internet. 

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A collection of data that can be accessed electronically. 

Terms assigned by indexers of a database to describe the subject content of a document. For example, the PsychLit database uses "academic achievement" as a descriptor to help researchers locate texts on the subject of scholastic achievement or gradepoint average. 

A service that provides access to a large number of databases for a fee based on the choice of database, the number of results downloaded, and the connect time. Libraries often subscribe to Dialog and perform searches for researchers, usually charging for the service. 

dialog box
A pop-up window that asks for some kind of input, such as clicking on a choice or typing information into a form. 

digital watermark
A marker, encoded in a graphics file, that indicates ownership. Used to prevent unauthorized use. 

discussion forum/group
A conversation among people with a shared interest who post e-mail messages to a group by means of software such as Listserv or Majordomo. These forums are also called discussion lists, lists, or listservs. 

domain name
The unique registered identifier for a network or an organization connected to the Internet, consisting of at least two elements separated by a period, such as www.bedfordstmartins.com. 

domain name system (DNS)
The system for assigning unique domain names and for translating them into numeric IP addresses. 

domain suffix
The last element of a domain name. In the United States, the suffix usually describes the type of organization, such as .com for commercial, .edu for educational, .gov for government, and .org for nonprofit. In other countries, the suffix indicates the country of origin. 

To transfer data from the Internet, a software program, a host system, or another computer to your own computer. 

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electronic journal
A journal that is accessible via the Internet; also known as an e-journal

electronic magazine
A magazine that is accessible via the Internet; also known as an e-zine

An electronic mail system that allows users to send and receive messages via their computers and in some cases via phones or pagers. 

Symbols used in e-mail to signify various expressions and emotions. The most common example is probably the smiley face, :-). 

ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)
A clearinghouse for educational materials sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education. Resources from the ERIC database are often available on microfiche at academic libraries, and the Department of Education is beginning to make them available on the Web. 

A popular local area network (LAN) protocol. Developed in 1976, Ethernet is used mainly to connect personal computers to one another and to the Internet. 

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FAQ (frequently asked questions)
A list of questions and answers at a Web site, a discussion group, and so on. A popular means of storing information about a topic or a community to help new participants quickly find important information. FAQ's reduce the need for new users to ask questions of more experienced users or members. 

file transfer protocol
See ftp

A service that provides access to a number of databases through a common interface. Many academic libraries subscribe to the service; its use may require a password obtained from the library.

A subsection of a Web page displayed independently of other portions of the page. A frame may include a scroll bar that allows the user to scroll a frame of one page while another frame remains constant. Simple Web pages contain one frame, which is also known as a main frame.

frequently asked questions
See FAQ.

ftp (file transfer protocol)
The series of commands that allows files to be moved from one computer to another on the Internet. 

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A site, program, or piece of hardware that enables the passing of information from one system to another, usually incompatible, system.

An early, menu-based means of organizing and linking texts and files on the Internet.

graphics interchange format (GIF)
A standard format for image files, commonly used on the Internet because translators are easily available.

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history list
A list kept by the browser of Web sites that have been visited over a particular time period. Users can return to a site in the list by selecting it from the history list. 

A measure of the number of times a Web site has been visited. Web sites frequently track hits as a measure of the popularity of the sites. The term hits also refers to a list of choices called up by a key word search in a database or an Internet search.

home page
The main page of a Web site. Home pages often have directories or icons that link to other pages of the site.

Any computer on a network that provides services or information to other computers on the network. A host is also called a server.

html (hypertext markup language)
A system used for formatting documents for viewing on the Web. Tags, or codes, are inserted in a document to determine the way it will look and behave when viewed with a browser.

hyperlink or hotlink
A highlighted word or image that provides an electronic link to another Web page or electronic file or to a different location in the same page or file.

Media made up of more than one digital medium; a nonlinear combination of audio, video, and graphical components that are linked electronically.

An electronic document that is linked to other documents through hyperlinks.

hypertext link
Highlighted text in an html document that, when clicked, calls up another document or part of a document. See also hyperlink or hotlink.

hypertext markup language
See html.

hypertext transfer protocol (http)
A set of standards used by browsers for transferring information across the Web.

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image map
A graphic that includes embedded hyperlinks.

The network of computer networks that allows for transfer of data from one computer to another using common protocols (including http as well as gopher and telnet). As the Internet has grown more popular, research universities and the federal government are cooperating to create Internet2 for faster data transfer among a select group of computer networks.

Internet protocol address (IP address)
A unique numeric identification for every network connected to the Internet. Each IP address consists of four sets of numbers separated by dots; the initial set identifies the domain.

Internet relay chat (IRC)
A program for synchronous (real-time) communication. Users can log on to an IRC server and choose a channel to participate in or create a new channel.

Internet service provider (ISP)
A company or organization that provides connections to the Internet.

A private network that is for a specific group of people, such as employees in a company. Often a user must enter a password to access an intranet.

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A computer programming language used by Web developers to add functions to sites beyond what is offered by http, including motion video, audio, and complex interactivity.

A system that allows users to search certain gopher menus with key words.

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key word
A word used to search a library database or the Internet. Key word searches locate results by exactly matching the search word to an item in the database or at the Internet site. For example, a search term using the key words "third world" will find items with that exact term, but may not include items that use the term "developing countries."

An electronic robot that retrieves information on the Internet. A knowbot "crawls" through the Web's hypertext documents to request information from them.

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listserv A program commonly used to facilitate discussion lists via e-mail. Listservs usually focus on a central theme or common interest of participants. 

The process of identifying oneself as an authorized user of a computer system. Most login procedures require both a username and a password.

The process of ending a computer session, usually by sending a command that breaks the connection between the user and the system.

To read messages in an electronic discussion without identifying yourself or posting messages in return.

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A search engine that sends a request for information to several search engines and compiles the results. 

Formats that reduce text and reproduce it on plastic film that can be read on a special machine. Microfilm puts pages of text on a continuous strip of film; microfiche puts the pages on flat sheets of film.

A person who manages messages sent to a moderated discussion forum, screening them and deciding which are appropriate for posting.

MOO (multi-user domain, object-oriented)
A program that allows participants to interact while moving around a virtual space and manipulating virtual objects. MOO's are accessed through standard telnet connections or through specialized MOO or MUD programs. MOO's are typically used for educational conferencing purposes and are an extension of MUD systems.

An early browser that was instrumental in popularizing the Web.

MUD (multi-user dimension)
A place in cyberspace where people can take on fictitious identities and communicate with others, usually in a game atmosphere. A MUD takes place in real time.

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The rules of appropriate conduct on the Internet. As with real-life etiquette, netiquette often varies according to community and context.

Two or more computers that have been linked.

A person who is new to the Internet.

An online forum that allows the public to post and read messages on a particular topic. Newsgroups are maintained by Usenet, not through e-mail lists.

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OPAC (online public access catalog)
Online catalog accessed either at a library computer terminal or via a protocol (such as telnet) accessed via the Web or Internet.

See Boolean operators.

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A secret code that identifies an individual to a computer; generally coupled with an account name or username.

periodical index
An index to articles in magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. Many periodical indexes are available in electronic form. (See also p. 11.)

A small program that can be added to a piece of software to give a browser additional capabilities, such as the ability to play audio files or display special graphics formats.

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real-time communication
Communication that takes place without lengthy delays, such as a telephone conversation or a MOO or a MUD interchange; also known as synchronous communication.

To click on the right-button of a computer mouse that has two or more buttons. Right-clicking is often a useful shortcut to pop-up menus.

See knowbot.

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search engine
Any program on the Internet that allows users to search for material on the Web or at a specific Web site. 

A host computer that is linked to other computers over a network. A corporation may have one server through which users have access to the Internet, e-mail, data files, databases, and software programs. A computer that hosts Web sites is also frequently called a server.

A message (typically an advertisement) sent indiscriminately to a wide set of discussion lists or newsgroups. Many users consider spam to be an offensive and intrusive form of junk mail.

A robot program that travels the Web and indexes the contents of Web sites for search engines.

subject directory
A listing of Web sites, organized by subject.

subject guide
A selective list of Web sites or other information sorted by subject.

synchronous communication
See real-time communication .

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A protocol used by some computer systems to log on to a remote computer. 

A list of continuous postings that deal with a common topic. A thread is usually used in the context of newsgroups and listservs and usually contains a common or slowly evolving subject line.

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To move data from one computer to another, usually to a server or host computer. For example, a company may upload a demo of its new software onto the Web so that users can then download the software onto their individual computers.

URL (inform resource locator)
A Web address, such as <http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/hacker/resdoc/> The components of a URL are a protocol type (such as "http" or "gopher"), a host or server name ("www"), a domain name ("bedfordstmartins"), and an extension of letters and/ or numbers to further identify the exact Web page.

An enormous set of electronic bulletin boards that maintain newsgroup discussions on more than ten thousand topics.

The name that identifies a user to a computer network; generally used in conjunction with a password to establish the user's right to access a host; also called account name or user ID.

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An early search engine for gophers; an acronym for "very easy rodent-oriented netwide index to computerized archives" but chiefly so named to play off the Archie index to ftp files.

Referring to a simulation or environment that exists primarily in cyberspace.

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WAIS (wide area information server)
An early search tool for Internet archives and sites, now largely superseded by the Web.

WAN (wide area network)
A network that extends beyond a building or short distance.

A listing of Web sites; a bibliography of Web sites mounted on the Web with hyperlinks.

World Wide Web (Web) An Internet client-server information retrieval system that uses a browser program and documents written in the form of hypertext markup language to display documents that can link to other documents. 
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List of Style Manuals

Copyright © 1998, 1999, Bedford/St. Martin's