Today, you probably hear the terms "Internet" and "World Wide Web" (or simply “Web”) used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
The internet came first. The Internet has been likened to a highway and is sometimes called "The Information Highway." It is a gigantic network that links together millions of computer networks around the world and lets them exchange information by using the same network protocols (called TCP/IP), sort of like speaking the same language or following the same set of rules. The original tools for locating and exchanging information via the Internet used text-only commands (i.e. no pictures, no colors, no sounds), and they were used almost exclusively by programmers, scientists and engineers.
Today, the Internet’s most commonly used resource is the World Wide Web. “The Web” is much younger, and builds upon the Internet. It uses another protocol, the HyperText Transfer Protocol (http), to link together and deliver a wealth of text, images, video, sound files, computer programs, online conversations and other resources which are stored on computers around the world. Web “browsers” like Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome use the hypertext transfer protocol (http) to let you retrieve these text, image and sound files from remote computers and display them on your computer with a mere click of your mouse on a web page link. You don't have to know any of the special text commands used in the early days of the Internet.
When people talk about “the Internet” today, they are usually referring to the World Wide Web.
Two of the oldest and most popular tools for finding information on the World Wide Web are:
* Subject Directories (sometimes called "catalogs," "indexes," or "channels") Subject directories take a group of hand-picked Web resources and organize them, usually arranging them by broad subject categories broken down into smaller and smaller subtopics. (With a subject directory, you use someone else's organization to find your topic.)
* Search engines - A type of software which lets you search a selection of Web resources by typing important words and phrases related to your topic into a search box. (With a search engine, you decide what words and phrases the search engine should look for.)
General subject directories cover many general-interest topics. In the examples below, ipl2 and INFOMINE are compiled by librarians. The others are also good sources.
For fun and games and pretty pictures,
the Web is fine.
But is the Web a good research tool?
The answer is a qualified yes,
and only if you are careful.
These two tutorials provide good overviews and introductions to the internet and the World Wide Web and their search tools.
These are probably the most widely used Web search engines today. Yahoo! is also a popular site, but it now uses the bing search engine.