By: Charles Bowen
Site Tackles Internet Terminology
Visitors dropping in from, oh, say, Mars probably would swear that the primary function of the World Wide Web was to generate jargon. Why else, our other-worldly friends might wonder, would the Net be burgeoning with buzz words? Well, at least now the same Web that’s awash in techno-babble also offers some techno-translations.
Webopedia is the name of a bright new online dictionary and search engine that focuses on Internet terminology. From relatively clear terms such as “IP address” and “cookies” to brain-wrenchers such as “application proxy,” “one-way hash function,” and “dynamic packet switching,” Webopedia provides clear definitions for the general computing public.
And it can be a boon for reporters and editors covering the computer beat. Updated regularly with new words and new categories, the site can be:
o Searched for words, even those included in definitions.
o Reviewed by category, locating obscure terms in areas such as communications, computer science, multimedia, and hardware.
o Browsed by alphabetical listings.
o Scanned for the newest jargon most recently entered in the database and for the top 15 terms searched by your fellow visitors.
To use the resource, visit the site at http://www.webopedia.com, where a busy introductory page is topped by a data entry box and by a drop-down menu. If you have a word in mind, enter it in the keyword box and click the Go button to see a list of entries that include your term. If you’d rather browse by subject, click the down arrow in the second box and choose a category of terms from the resulting list.
Webopedia supports more than a dozen categories, including communications, computer industry companies, computer science, data, graphics, hardware, Internet and online services, mobile computing, multimedia, networks, operating systems, programming, software standards, types of computers, and the Web. To view a linked list of all the topics and their subcategories, click the “Recently Added Categories” link at the top of the introductory page. Most definitions run a sentence or two and usually contain one or more links as cross-references to related material elsewhere in the database.
Also of interest to researchers will be Webopedia’s reference tools. Click the “Quick Reference” link in the left column of any Webopedia screen to reach a section for information on common Internet and computer facts and services. Among the features here are a who’s who in Internet and computer technology, descriptions of various types of Net services and bandwidths, details of assorted data formats, countries and their domain name extensions, the meaning of Internet error messages, and a brief timeline of the Internet.
Other considerations for using Webopedia in your writing and editing:
o If you find Webopedia so useful that you want to always have it instantly available to you online, check out the site’s “Search Tool” link on the main screen. The site’s search utility sits in your personal bookmark toolbar ready to be used when you need a definition. Just highlight the term you want defined, click the Webopedia Search option and a new window pops up with the definition. The site offers the plug-in for users of both Internet Explorer and Netscape browsers.
o The site produces several free e-mail newsletters. Use the forms on the introductory screen to sign up for a weekly newsletter that covers new features and related news. You also can subscribe to the e-mailed “Term of the Day” newsletter for a different computing term daily.
o Webopedia is a product of internet.com LLC of Westport, Conn., a division of INT Media Group, which operates more than 150 Web sites and nearly 300 e-mail newsletters. The services generate more than 275 million page views a month from some 1.6 million unique users.
Bowen writes columns, articles and books from West Virginia, and is host of the daily Internet News syndicated radio show (http://www.netnewstoday.com).
Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher