The Internet: a vast collection of servers and web pages that have been the bedrock of information-sharing and electronic commerce for decades. From social media to cloud computing, the versatility and usefulness of the Internet is difficult to overstate.
The problem is, how are we to understand and maneuver through it when there is too much of it to even comprehend?
To many individuals, some of the words I just used aren’t even in their vocabulary, let alone truly understood. With the vastness of the Internet at our fingertips, there are certain words and phrases that act as directions in our journey online.
So whether you are online shopping or designing a webpage, here are some terms and definitions that every cyberspace traveler should know.
A word you’ve probably heard at least in passing is “browser.”. If you are reading this article, odds are you are using a browser. This entity is an application that is run on a computer and connects the user to the World Wide Web. It will search out, retrieve, and display the content that you asked it to scan for.
To give practical context, common browsers consist of applications such as Safari, Google Chrome, or Firefox. These programs that run on your computer are essentially the fishing pole you use when navigating the ocean that is the Internet. In many ways, though, they are also the boat, rudder, and everything else that keeps you floating.
2. Web Page
The web page is one of the simpler terms to understand. Basically, a web page is a document made up of hypertext, which is simply the language of the Internet that allows you to navigate it and is connected to the Web. For example, If you are shopping on Amazon, writing a Yelp review, or reading this article, you are looking at a web page.
If the Internet were a neighborhood, a URL would be a website’s home address. In the same way that Google Maps makes finding a location no more difficult than pressing a button, URLs provide the user with the ability to teleport directly to a site. The abbreviation stands for “Universal Resource Locator” and is instrumental in providing ease-of-access to anyone surfing the Internet.
Next on the roster, we have the domain. The domain of any web page or site is the title that represents the administrator of that site. This differs from the URL in that the URL is the specific address, while the domain could be compared to the name of the street that it resides on (which contains multiple page addresses).
Domains are entities that must be purchased from domain registrars, and vary in price depending on the complexity of the domain. The most common domain in existence is .com, but there has been an increase in alternative domain extensions such as .ai domains (sold by domain registrars like 101domain).
On your online journey, hyperlinks are things that you will come across constantly, if not in almost every click that you make. Put simply, hyperlinks are forms of hypertext that “link” you to another location or file. This usually comes in the form of a highlighted word, button or even an image.
Oftentimes, hyperlinks are the things that move you across different parts of a website, as well as being the bridges that moves you from site to site.
Of all the terms, HTML may be the most vital ones to know. Short for HyperText Markup Language, HTML is the DNA of the World Wide Web. From fonts and colors to graphics and hyperlinks, HTML is the system that tags and directs all the inner workings of a site.
Simply put, HTML is the language that dictates content and information that appears on any online page.
On the subject of the language of the Internet, CSS is another essential term to be familiar with. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet and is used to format the layout of an online site or Internet page.
While HTML might describe the content and what information is presented on the site, CSS is responsible for dictating where on the page that information goes, ensuring a consistent and understandable presentation for any and every user.
When it comes to servers, the Internet makes use of legions of them, making them a highly-important term to understand. Basically, servers are computers or programs that service data to other computers, kind of like how the brain contains and distributes information to the rest of the body.
Each server is uniquely different in the task that it is assigned to. From web servers to mail servers, these entities are hubs of information and allow the user to have a distinction between resources.
For many people, this is already a familiar term. For those of you who are not familiar with it, email is basically summed up in its name–electronic mail. Similar to the physical mail you would receive in a mailbox at your home, email provides the user with both an online inbox and a username to differentiate between each specific individual.
In our society today, especially in business environments, emails are crucially important in maintaining efficiency of communication.
Do you ever get random mail sent to your house? Or possibly someone putting a sign up on your yard without informing or asking you? Essentially, spam is the same type of thing, except transferred to an online environment. For many, spam consists of emails or messages that are irrelevant to the user and are usually sent en masse to large amounts of people. This term can mean something different to each person, but generally, it applies to a message that is unwanted or unnecessary in the eyes of the user.
11. Social Media
Next up, we have arguably one of the most common terms known to our society, especially within emerging generations. From Instagram and Facebook to Tinder and LinkedIn, the term “social media” applies to a vast number of platforms that house communication between distinct users.
Whether you are photo sharing or live streaming, it is vital to understand the avenue in which you are interacting with the Internet community, especially when most social media platforms provide opportunities to disclose information about your life and interests.
For the same reasons why it is important to have a lock on your front door, encryptions are vital in maintaining a safe and trustworthy Internet environment, ensuring that each user is secure in their activities. If you plan on using the Internet in any capacity to share or record personal information or content you would otherwise refrain from sharing, it is important that you understand this term.
From passwords to firewalls (scroll down for more information on firewalls), the topic of encryption is one that every user should navigate and form opinions about for themselves.
13. Cloud Computing
Simply put, cloud computing is the management, storage, or processing of data on a collection of servers based on the Internet, rather than on a personal computer or server. The applications consist of being able to access documents or data from wherever the Internet is available. For example, Apple’s iCloud allows the storage of information from various devices into one collection of data based on the Internet, allowing the user to manage it easily from anywhere the World Wide Web is accessible.
As mentioned previously in the article, firewalls have to do with the encryption and security of a server or computer system. To many users, especially those who manage a website or server, firewalls are crucial in maintaining a barrier between authorized access and unauthorized access, while simultaneously allowing for outward communication from the system.
In a world of hackers and dangerous software, firewalls are the sturdy borders that keep your online activity exclusively yours.
Now that we have discussed encryption and the measures that keep your information and site safe, it is important to know what exactly you’re up against in the online environment. One term that will often send a shiver down an IT enthusiast’s back is malware.
Basically, malware is a software program that specializes in damaging, disrupting, or infiltrating an online site. Oftentimes, these dangers are hidden in emails or unsecured sites but are fairly easy to avoid if using proper online etiquette.
Overall, this term must be known by anyone who wishes to stay secure when navigating the Web, whether that be online shopping or managing a multi-million dollar company.