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NetResearch: Finding Information Online

Daniel J. Barrett, Ph.D.

Table of Contents


1. Instant gratification...and beyond
Searching the Internet can be fruitful or frustrating. We'll provide some reasons why it's sometimes hard to locate things online, introduce some "rules for the road" for successful searching, and discuss the accuracy of information found online.

2. Internet basics
We present a basic overview of the World Wide Web, Usenet news, electronic mail, and several other means of communication on the Internet. For beginners only.

3. Views of the Internet
The Internet can be viewed in many ways, such as a library, a collection of resources, or a bunch of programs. Each view can help you search effectively online, and we discuss their pros and cons. We also discuss the structure of the Internet, explain how knowledge of computer names can speed up your search, list some useful types of programs for searching, introduce searching by keyword, and give a brief introduction to URLs.

4. Choosing an effective starting point
The success and speed of a search depends on where you begin. We'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various starting points: Web search engines, specialized Web sites, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents, public discussion groups, and your own intuition.

5. Web searching techniques
The World Wide Web is the premier method for locating information online. We take an in-depth look at search engines, simple queries, and advanced queries. Then we explain and compare numerous search strategies that work with most search engines: specific search, general search, incremental search, substring search, search-and-jump, and more.

6. Finding places
A little knowledge of computer names and domains can help you locate Web pages, FTP sites, and other Internet resources without doing any searching. After discussing the basics of computer and domain naming on the Net, we show you how to make intelligent guesses about the location of information.

7. Finding people
The Internet is great for tracking down colleagues, business partners, and long-lost friends. We discuss how to locate people via email address databases, telephone databases, Usenet, the Web, and more.

8. Finding kindred spirits
No matter what interests you have, you can find an online community who shares them. We discuss and compare three types of online meeting places: mailing lists, public discussion groups, and chat groups, and how they are best used.

9. Finding freely distributable software
The Internet contains tons of free software for every type of computer. This chapter explains how to locate software by name, type, computer platform, author's name, and filename, using tools such as Web search, Archie, and FTP.

10. Finding information again
The Internet is constantly changing. When your favorite resources move or vanish, we'll see how to refind them quickly without much (or any) searching. We also introduce bookmarks and bookmark management, discuss tips to prevent bookmarks from becoming out of date, and cover basic Web page creation for going beyond bookmarks.

11. Putting information online
By making a contribution to the Internet, you can help it grow and improve. Volunteering can be profitable, educational, satisfying, and a great way to make contacts. We discuss how to write effective FAQs, create mailing lists, build Web resources, and create and moderate discussion groups.

Appendix A. Great places to start a search

Appendix B. Answers to quiz questions

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