Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

Go to Table of Contents. Visit Gifcom.

By Adam Gaffin,
Senior Writer, Network World, Framingham, Mass.
     Welcome to the Internet! You're about to start a journey through a
unique land without frontiers, a place that is everywhere at once -- even
though it exists physically only as a series of electrical impulses. 
You'll be joining a growing community of millions of people around the
world who use this global resource on a daily basis.
     With this book, you will be able to use the Internet to:

     = Stay in touch with friends, relatives and colleagues around the
       world, at a fraction of the cost of phone calls or even air
     = Discuss everything from archaeology to zoology with people in
       several different languages.   
     = Tap into thousands of information databases and libraries
     = Retrieve any of thousands of documents, journals, books and
       computer programs.
     = Stay up to date with wire-service news and sports and
       with official weather reports.
     = Play live, "real time" games with dozens of other people at once.
     Connecting to "the Net" today, takes something of a sense of
adventure, a willingness to learn and an ability to take a deep breath
every once in awhile. Visiting the Net today is a lot like journeying to
a foreign country.  There are so many things to see and do, but
everything at first will seem so, well, foreign. 
     When you first arrive, you won't be able to read the street signs. 
You'll get lost.  If you're unlucky, you may even run into some locals
who'd just as soon you went back to where you came from.  If this
weren't enough, the entire country is constantly under construction;
every day, it seems like there's something new for you to figure out.
     Fortunately, most of the locals are actually friendly.  In fact, the
Net actually has a rich tradition of helping out visitors and newcomers. 
Until very recently, there were few written guides for ordinary people,
and the Net grew largely through an "oral" tradition in which the old-
timers helped the newcomers.
     So when you connect, don't be afraid to ask for help.  You'll be
surprised at how many people will lend a hand!
     Without such folks, in fact, this guide would not be possible. My
thanks to all the people who have written with suggestion, additions and
corrections since the Big Dummy's Guide first appeared on the Internet in
    Special thanks go to my loving wife Nancy.  I would also like to
thank the following people, who, whether they know it or not, provided
particular help.
    Rhonda Chapman, Jim Cocks, Tom Czarnik, Christopher Davis, David
DeSimone, Jeanne deVoto, Phil Eschallier, Nico Garcia, Joe Granrose,
Joerg Heitkoetter, Joe Ilacqua, Jonathan Kamens, Peter Kaminski, Thomas
A. Kreeger, Stanton McCandlish, Leanne Phillips, Nancy Reynolds, Helen
Trillian Rose, Barry Shein, Jennifer "Moira" Smith, Gerard van der Leun
and Scott Yanoff.
    If you have any suggestions or comments on how to make this guide
better, I'd love to hear them.  You can reach me via e-mail at

    Boston, Mass., February, 1994.