Tips for Navigating Your Way Through the Internet

Tips for Navigating Your Way Through the Internet

By John Makulowich

Contributing Writer

During a recent talk to an association gathering in Washington, I
offered a "meager guide" on pro- ductively using the Internet.

Given the positive response to that informal lecture, I offer readers the following recommendations about one way of making your way safely and expeditiously through the mine fields of the Internet.

  • Consider the Internet just one source of information or means of communication.

  • Practice etiquette.

  • Calculate the opportunity cost in all your professional work.

  • Approach the Internet with the same standards you use with other sources, and heed the words of Wolfgang Pauli in reply to a colleague who asked him to review a physics paper: "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong."

  • Learn your operating system, including TCP/IP, ftp and telnet.

  • Learn your e-mail agent, including attachments, filters, signatures and URLs.

  • Learn your World Wide Web client, aka Web browser.

  • Learn discussion group list managers (listserv, listproc, majordomo, et al.).

  • Learn your Usenet newsgroup reader, such as Agent 1.0 or tin.

  • Learn at least two Web search engines, such as AltaVista, Infoseek or Excite.

  • Learn to create and mount a Web page (Robert Finn <cybrarian@nasw.org>) and heed the word of Gertrude Stein: "They visits more than they that visits them."

  • Install and use an anti-virus program, such as F-PROT.

  • Install Acrobat Reader to view *.pdf.

  • Install a compression utility, such as WinZip.

  • Install OS protection, such as Norton CrashGuard.

  • Bookmark the help files of the key search engines.

  • Bookmark the Web sites of your OS, software and hardware.

  • Bookmark by assignment or by specialty, and refrain from bookmarking everything.

  • Consider an e-mail news service, such as Mercury Mail http://www.merc.com/ or
    Farcast http://www.farcast.com/.

  • Seek the leading, not the bleeding (aka cutting), edge of computer technology.

  • Frequently flush your cache.

  • Read Neuromancer (Gibson 1984), The Cuckoo's Egg (Stoll 1989) and Snow Crash (Stephenson 1992).

  • Study The Internet Book (Comer 1994) and The Reporter's Handbook (Weinberg 1996).

John Makulowich writes, talks and trains on the Internet. Send e-mail to <john@journalist.com>. The URL for his home page is <http://www.cais.com/makulow/> or <http://www.trainer.com/pub/journalism/>.


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