Our Interactive Glossary defines the technologies, platforms, and history of the Internet and the World Wide Web. This glossary covers a lot of ground. You can get started by clicking on any letter in the Glossary Index at the bottom of this page. If you aren't sure where to start, just below the quiz you'll find a few suggestions of topics you can learn about.
Once you think you're ready, go ahead and take our Glossary Quiz to determine how well you know the terms that define the net.
The Architecture of the Internet
If you want to learn about how information is located and moved across the Internet the first step is to learn about the Internet Protocol Suite and what is means that the Internet is a packet switched network. Next you'll want to know the difference between all the types of nodes that make up the Internet including clients, servers, and hosts. Finally, read about the domain name system, and how name servers convert URLs that consist of a domain name and pathname into an IP address that can be used to locate a server on the Internet.
Establishing an Internet Connection
In order to get online you'll first need to settle on an Internet service provider. You'll also need some network hardware, including a modem, a router – preferably one with WiFi broadcasting capabilities – and an Ethernet cable. In the past, dial-up connections were common, and while they are still available, it is now more common to establish a broadband connection either using a cable modem or a DSL connection that communicates over phone lines.
Accessing the World Wide Web
With an Internet connection established, you can browse the web. First you'll need to pick a browser. While Mosaic and Netscape Navigator were popular in year's past, you'll want to select a modern browser like Chrome for the best and safest browsing experience possible.
Understanding How Web Sites Work
Understanding How Email Works
Email is one of the most popular services powered by the Internet. Learn how email is made possible by mail servers and supporting protocols like POP3 and SMTP. Email has become remarkably easier to use of the last two decade, with two key developments being the growth of web-based email and the ability to easily attached any sort of binary file to a message thanks to MIME which eliminated the need to manually encode binary files using an encoding utility like Uuencode.
Facing the Risks of Going Online
Unfortunately, going online is not without risks. However, by learning about malware such as computer viruses, trojan horses, worms, adware, and scareware, you can avoid having your computer turned in a zombie and added to a botnet.
Start Social Networking
Learn About Other Internet Services
The Internet has a lot more to offer than just web browsing, social networking, and email. Learn about other popular services and how to use them such as how to use a newsreader to access content in a newsgroup on Usenet. You can also make phone and video calls over the Internet using VoIP. If you just want to type your conversations, learn about chatting and chat rooms.
Learn About the History of Networking
The Internet wasn't the first or only wide area network. Take a few minutes to learn about predecessors and networks that competed with the Internet for dominance early-on including ARPANET, NSFNET, Gopher, and UUCPNET.