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Versions: 00 01 rfc1594                                                 
INTERNET-DRAFT                                              R. Plzak
draft-ietf-uswg-fyi4-00.txt                                     SAIC
                                                            A. Wells
                                                             E. Krol
                                                             Univ IL
                                                       November 1998

                      FYI on Questions and Answers
         Answers to Commonly asked New Internet User Questions

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are working
   documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
   and its working groups.  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   To view the entire list of current Internet-Drafts, please check the
   "1id-abstracts.txt" listing contained in the Internet-Drafts Shadow
   Directories on ftp.is.co.za (Africa), ftp.nordu.net (Northern
   Europe), ftp.nis.garr.it (Southern Europe), munnari.oz.au (Pacific
   Rim), ftp.ietf.org (US East Coast), or ftp.isi.edu (US West Coast).

   "Copyright(C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved."


   This memo provides an overview to the new Internet User.  The
   intended audience is the common Internet user of today, thus it
   attempts to provide a more consumer oriented approach to the Internet
   rather than going into any depth about a topic.  Unlike its
   predecessors, this edition seeks to answer the general questions that
   an unsophisticated consumer would ask as opposed to the more pointed
   questions of the more a technically sophisticated Internet user.
   Users desiring a more in-depth discussion are directed to FYI 7 that
   deals with intermediate and advanced Q/A topics.  A conscious effort
   has been made to keep this memo brief but at the same time provide
   the new user with enough information to generally understand the

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1. Acknowledgements

   The following people deserve thanks for their help and contributions
   to thei FYI Q/A:  Albert Lunde (NWU).

2. Questions About the Internet

2.1. What is the Internet?

   The Internet is the worldwide group of networks that are connected
   together. It consists of the computers used by users that are
   connected to these networks, the specialized computers (routers) that
   are the interconnection points between these networks, and the
   communications lines.  Most home users connect to a network via a
   telephone line and a communication device (modem). A company known as
   an Internet Service Provider (ISP) connects this network to the
   Internet. The Internet was put together from normal telephone
   communication products which are offered by telephone companies, but
   they are used in a different way which allows everyone to share them
   which makes the whole thing cheaper.

   The Internet is structured much like any other business.  You buy
   your service from a retail ISP.  Your ISP takes its profit and buys
   bulk services from a bigger provider who does the same thing.  This
   may happen a couple of times until there gets a point where there are
   places where the big providers all connect together and communicate
   with each other.  There are only a few of these in each area of the
   world and they pay a fee to connect at these points.  The connection
   points are connected together by international providers, so that if
   you connect to the Internet at one point, you can get anywhere in the

2.2. Who Runs the Internet?

   The Internet is operated as a cooperative effort among the ISPs,
   software companies, volunteer organizations, and a few facilities
   that tie the whole thing together.  The ISPs and software companies
   are completely independent and most of them compete with each other.
   The ISPs agree to connect to each other and transmit information
   following an established set of rules (protocols).  The software
   companies agree to manufacture programs (such as email or web
   browsers) that also follow protocols.  These protocols are developed
   by a group of volunteers (Internet Engineering Task Force  IETF) that
   come together regularly and discuss how the Internet is running and
   how to standardize new services.

   But, there are things that must be unique in the Internet, just like
   your phone number must be unique in the world.  To keep these things

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   straight there are groups identified in the community which allocate
   addresses (IP Registries  ARIN, RIPE, APNIC), allocate names (domain
   registries), and generally keep track of things (ICANN).  This is
   keeps the Internet working well, adding new services, and running on
   a wide variety of computers.

2.3. What Can I do on the Internet?

   There are a variety of applications and activities on the Internet.
   These include the ability to surf, use search tools, send mail,
   transfer programs and documents, and chat.

   Surfing is one of the two most popular activities. To surf, a user
   uses a program known as a web browser.  The web browser enables the
   user to connect to a location that contains information.  From one
   location a user can follow various links by clicking on them to
   explore the Internet.  Like following a footnote or reference in a
   print publication, links can be used to find related or non-related

   Typically surfing begins by connecting to a site that contains a
   search engine. Since the Internet contains many, many different kinds
   of material on a wide variety of topics, finding exactly what you are
   looking for can be challenging. This is where search engines come in
   since they can help you locate specific information. But, remember
   just as using a dictionary versus the yellow pages to locate
   information on automobiles will yield very different results, so too
   will different search engines.

   E-mail is the second most popular activity and is very similar to
   sending letters through the post office.  It is both an application
   and an activity which allows for the exchange of messages between two
   or more people. Additionally, many people use e-mail to join and
   participate in what are known as listserv discussions or mail lists.
   A listserv is simply a forum wherein people exchange e-mail and is
   typically on a defined topic i.e. home buying, politics, or even
   running the Internet.

   Programs and documents are transferred in several ways.  The most
   common way this is done between individual users is to attach the
   program or document to an e-mail message.  Programs and documents are
   usually transferred from sites to users using the save feature of a
   web browser or the file transfer protocol (FTP).  This enables users
   to obtain a variety of programs, documents, audio files, and video

   Another application and activity known as chat takes place with
   another person or persons who are also on the Internet. Chatting is

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   very similar to going to a party.  Just as people congregate in small
   groups and discuss things, chatters meet in chat rooms to discuss a
   topic.  Chat rooms are generally sponsored or operated by an
   organization that has an interest in the topic area.  For example, an
   online news organization would have a chat room for chatters to
   discuss current events.  To chat one person writes a message which
   can be read, as it is being written, by the others who can respond to
   it in turn.  Persons who enter a chat room but dont enter the
   discussion are said to be lurking.  Chatters come and go to chat
   rooms the same way people move about groups at a party.

   Some popular activities that have recently sprung up include
   electronic shopping, banking, and investing. Major and specialty
   retail stores around the nation and many around the world describe
   and display pictures of their products on the Internet for people to
   buy directly or indirectly.  Shopping can also include purchasing
   services such as an airline ticket or ordering groceries.
   Additionally, many banks allow people to transfer funds, check
   available funds, pay bills and other such activities while on the
   Internet with an account number and ID. Lastly, many people invest
   while on the Internet in everything from stocks and bonds to real

2.4. How Does the Internet Work?

   The Internet allows people to conduct activities, whether it is web
   browsing, e-mail, a file transfer, or a chat session between two
   computers (source and destination) that can be located anywhere.  To
   make this happen several things occur.  An activity is started, the
   address of the destination is identified, a path to the destination
   is created, an activity session is started, and then the activity
   takes place.  This is done by a variety of programs that follow
   standards (protocols) of Internet activity.

   Lets look at how this would happen for an e-mail session.  The user
   creates a message using an e-mail program.  The user identifies the
   destination by specifying an e-mail address.  Since humans are more
   comfortable with names the e-mail protocol specifies that this
   address is the name of the user at the destination.  It looks like
   jones@ietf.org.  However, the computers that move information about
   the Internet use numeric addresses called Internet Protocol (IP)
   addresses.  IP addresses are used to move (route) the message along
   the best path to the destination.  Thus the name has to be translated
   into an IP address.  The name-to-address mapping system called the
   Domain Name System (DNS) does this.  Once the address has been
   determined, a set of protocols called routing protocols find the best
   path to the destination. Then an activity session is created between
   the source and the destination computer.  The e-mail protocol checks

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   the destination to make sure that it will accept the message.
   Finally the message is transmitted.  As it moves from the source to
   the destination it may cross several networks that belong to several
   ISPs.  All of this activity takes place within the time it takes to
   read this paragraph!

2.5. Are There Any Rules of Behavior?

   In general common sense, courtesy, and decency govern good Internet
   behavior. There is no single formal rulebook that governs behavior on
   the Internet. However many e-mail discussion lists and chat rooms
   have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).  Before you join in one of these
   activities check and see if there is an AUP, make sure you understand
   it, and then follow it.  The IETF has published RFC 1855 (Netiquette
   Guidelines) and is publishing other RFCs that deal with subjects such
   as advertising and Internet junk mail (spam).

   Users should also be aware that their particular programs such as
   word processors or e-mail might produce documents and messages that
   are not readable by everyone.  You should make sure that the intended
   recipient can read what you are sending them.

   As in any group, the users of the Internet have, over time, developed
   language short cuts.  These primarily take the form of acronyms and
   emoticons (smilies).  Lists of these acronyms and emoticons can be
   found by surfing.

3. Security Considerations

   It is important to realize that not Internet user is a good netizen.
   Therefore, users should learn to protect themselves.  The IETF has
   published several RFCs that provide security information and
   guidance.  Additionally, users can protect themselves from sites and
   documents that have unwanted content by using baby sitting software.

4.  References

   References to be inserted here.

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5.  Authors' Address

   Raymond Plzak
   1710 Goodridge Drive
   McLean, Virginia 22102

   Phone: (703) 821-6535

   EMail: plzakr@saic.com

   Amy Tracy Wells
   Internet Scout Project
   University of Wisconsin-Madison
   Computer Sciences Department
   1210 W. Dayton St.
   Madison, WI 53706

   Phone: (608)263-2611

   Email:  awel@cs.wisc.edu

   Ed Krol
   University of Illinois
   1120 DCL     1304 Springfield
   Urbana IL   61801

   Phone (217)333-7886

   Email: krol@uiuc.edu

6. "Full Copyright Statement".

   "Copyright (C) The Internet Society (date).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to others,
   and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it or assist in its
   implmentation may be prepared, copied, published and distributed, in whole or
   in part, without restriction of any kind, provided that the above copyright
   notice and this paragraph are included on all such copies and derivative
   works.  However, this document itself may not be modified in any way, such as
   by removing the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or
   other Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of developing
   Internet standards in which case the procedures for copyrights defined in the
   Internet Standards process must be followed, or as required to translate it

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   into languages other than English.

    The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be revoked
   by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

    This document and the information contained herein is provided on an "AS IS"

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