Internet Tools You Can't Live Without

It is useless to discuss Internet tools if some do not have a clear understanding of what the Internet encompasses. Those who are uncertain of what the Internet is should find the following description helpful:
The internet [sic] is a communication strategy that uses the ability of computers to store and transmit digitized information. Digitized information can include text, pictures, video, and audio. The system is completely interactive in that every computer connected to the internet can communicate with any other connected computer. Each computer on the network can both send and receive information.[1]

With over 125,000 computers worth of interconnected information,[2] it is important to use tools that are free or inexpensive, easy to find and use, and basic for performing almost any function on the Internet. Electronic mail (e-mail) provides a quick and inexpensive means of delivering a message. It can be used to communicate important information that requires a fast response. Mail remains in the receivers mail-box until he or she reads it. Mailing lists provide private group interaction via e-mail and can facilitate discussion of a particular topic or issue. These lists can be moderated to keep the group on topic, prevent personal attacks, and eliminate unnecessary messages.

Chat programs allow two or more individuals to communicate in writing. Unlike e-mail where the sender and receiver do not have to connected to the Internet at the same time, chat programs allow instant communication between all parties connected to the Internet at that time. More than one person may be typing at the same time, and in some programs all participants can read what you are typing as you type it. The Internet phone is a chat-related tool that goes one step beyond in allowing two people to converse over the Internet using the spoken word rather than the written word.

The World Wide Web (or Web) connects related pages of information. A page may be composed of plain text, hypertext, photographs and artwork, sound clips, and even video clips. Organizations and individuals who have a page or multiple pages on the Internet are said to have a Web site. Unlike e-mail and chat programs where a person has no control over what they are viewing, they must specifically request a Web page in order to view it.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) permits a person to request a file from a public storage area and save it on their computer. These storage areas can be found on most computers connected to the Internet. Programs, pictures, sounds, movies, and articles are typically available. Like the Web, an individual or organization can create a public storage area and make it available to anyone on the Internet.

While your life may continue even without these tools, they are essential for using and providing resources on the Internet.