tech-invite   World Map     

IETF     RFCs     Groups     SIP     ABNFs    |    3GPP     Specs     Gloss.     Arch.     IMS     UICC    |    Misc.    |    search     info

RFC 2150


Humanities and Arts: Sharing Center Stage on the Internet

Part 2 of 3, p. 16 to 42
Prev RFC Part       Next RFC Part


prevText      Top      Up      ToC       Page 16 
5. Forums

   Websters defines a forum as "A public meeting place for open
   discussion."  In the world that could be a park or an auditorium.  In
   the Internet, a forum will be electronic, but it may still feel like
   a roomful of people.

   Many forums exist on the Internet.  There are interactive forums
   where you can share information in real-time and carry on discussions
   with others.  There are message-based forums where you send or
   receive a message and others involved in that forum can respond
   later, and there are archived forums where information is stored, and
   may be retrieved by anyone but modified only by its owner.

   While we have attempted to list and describe a few of the more
   popular forums, we have not created an exhaustive, complete, or up-
   to-the-minute list here.  You can find information on forums, lists
   and sites in many magazines and books today.

5.1 Message-based Communications

   In Message-based communication, a message is sent by one user, and
   can be received by one or many.  For example, you might send a dinner
   invitation to an individual, a couple, or a group.  In the same way,
   you send electronic messages to individuals or groups.  Just like a
   postal service for physical mail, there are electronic mail servers
   for electronic mail.  Just like you have a physical address to which
   your physical mail is sent, there is an electronic mail address to
   which your electronic mail is sent.

   Message-based Communications includes electronic mail, newsgroups,
   and bulletin boards.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 17 
5.1.1 Email

   Electronic mail, called EMAIL, is a system whereby a computer user
   can exchange messages with other computer users, or groups of users
   via a communications network.  This can be the Internet, or a smaller
   internal office network.

   Typical use of email consists of downloading messages as received
   from a mailbox or mail server, then reading and replying to them
   solely electronically using a mail program which behaves much like a
   word processor for the most part.  The user can send mail to, or
   receive mail from, any other user with Internet access.  Electronic
   mail is much like paper mail, in that it is sent, delivered, and
   contains information.  That information is usually textual, but new
   innovations allow for graphics, and even sound to sent in email.

   Email is superior to paper mail in that it can arrive at its
   destination within minutes of being sent, and it can be replied to,
   appended to, forwarded, formatted, saved, or deleted just as quickly.

   Some sites on the Internet run a type of file server which can
   respond with a file automatically, for those who have email but not
   web or ftp access.

   An email address consists of a username, and the address of the
   machine to which the mail should be delivered for that user.

   Reviewing Section 4.1.2, email addresses take the form
   "username"@"site"."domain"  For example, if your name is Joe Cool and
   you get your Internet service from Dirigible Online, where you login
   as "jcool",  your email address might be "".

   You will usually get your Email address from your System
   Administrator, in a work or school environment, or from your Internet
   Service Provider.  Section 6 provides more information on Internet
   Service Providers.

5.1.2 Newsgroups

   Someday everyone will be able to get their news electronically,
   saving paper, money, time, and the environment.

   A Newsgroup is an electronic bulletin board system created originally
   by the Unix community and which is accessible via the Internet.
   Usenet News forms a discussion forum accessible by millions of users
   in almost every country in the world.  Usenet News consists of
   thousands of topics arranged in a hierarchical form.  Major topics
   include "comp" for computer topics, "rec" for recreational topics,

Top      Up      ToC       Page 18 
   "soc" for social topics, "sci" for science topics, and there are many
   others we will not list here.  Within the major topics are subtopics,
   such as "" for general music content, and
   "" for classical music, or "" for
   discussions relating to the physics of medical science.

   If you have access to newsgroups, it would be wise to read any
   postings on the newsgroup "news.announce.newusers" first.  This
   newsgroup provides detailed information on newsgroups, such as
   finding the right place to post, and information on newsgroup writing

   Local newsgroups are those that are accessible through your
   organization or company which contain news that is relevant only to
   your organization.  For example, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
   GSFC, has many internal newsgroups that are of interest only to GSFC
   employees and none of the other NASA centers.  Therefore, newsgroups
   have been formed to provide internal information to NASA GSFC
   employees only and no one else.  Some examples are: gsfc.carpool,
   gsfc.dialup or gsfc.220.civil.servants.

   Another example of a local newsgroup is news that is posted regarding
   your community or the vicinity in which you live.  For example, if
   you lived in the Washington D.C. area some of the local newsgroups
   might be:  dc.biking, or dc.smithsonian.

   Many newsreaders are available, and many web browsers now also
   support news.  The URL to use for a newsgroup will have the protocol
   news: followed by the group name, as in news:dc.smithsonian.  A
   domain address is not necessary, as the browser would be configured
   to know which host you will get news from.

5.1.3 Electronic Bulletin Board System - BBS

   An Electronic Bulletin Board System, or BBS, consists of a computer,
   and associated software, typically providing electronic messaging
   services, archives of files, and any other services or activities of
   interest to the bulletin board systems' operator.

   Typically a BBS user must dial into the BBS via their modem and
   telephone line, and select from a hierarchy of lists, files,
   subdirectories, or other data maintained by the operator.  Once
   connected, the user can often send messages to other BBS users within
   the system.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 19 
   Although BBSs have traditionally been the domain of hobbyists, an
   increasing number of BBSs are connected directly to the Internet, and
   many BBSs are currently operated by government, educational,
   research, and commercial institutions.

   BBSs usually advertise their services in the backs of magazines and
   newspapers and by word of mouth.  Many companies now offer a BBS via
   which their customers can retrieve their latest technical support
   documents and product literature.

5.2  Real-Time Communications

   The communications methods described in Section 5.1 involve delays
   between when you send a message and when you receive a response, with
   the result that both parties are not involved simultaneously.  The
   net can also be used to communicate in "Real-Time" by making the sure
   the delays are short enough that both parties can be involved
   simultaneously in a "conversation".

   Typically this is done in a text based format where each user has two
   special regions on their screen: One that they type in, and another
   that the other users type is displayed in.  The delay between when
   one user types and the other sees it on their screen is called "net-
   lag" and usually ranges from "too short to be aware of" to about 30
   seconds.  Lag can occur due to network congestion or a variety of
   bottlenecks including link speed, processor speed, and typing speed.

   Although it is still rather expensive, it is also possible to use
   both audio and video in "Real-Time".  However the reasons for it's
   expense are temporary, and you should expect to see more and more of
   this in the future.

   Forums which communicate in real-time are the Internet Relay Chat
   (IRC), the Multi-User Dungeon (MUD), Audio-Video Conferencing (AVC),
   and WhiteBoard Systems (WBS).

5.2.1  IRC - Internet Relay Chat, WebChat

   Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, provides a text-based mechanism for
   communication with multiple participants.  IRC is an interactive
   forum set up in virtual rooms that you can move between, and where
   others can virtually "hang out".  Chat rooms can be used to discuss
   common ideas or topics, or as part of a collaborative process.  The
   connection method used will be specific to each IRC site.  IRC sites
   can be found using search tools, as outlined in Section 5.3.1.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 20 
   Web chat is like IRC but it is done via a web browser, and it is not
   a text only forum.  Section 6.2 provides more information on web
   browser software.

   Many webchat sites require the user to register before being able to
   participate in the activity.  If any additional software is needed
   based on your particular software and PC configuration the site will
   point you in the right direction so you can download the necessary

   Some sites will provide you with chat etiquette guidelines.  Please
   be sure to read the directions before you participate in the chat

   Once you begin to chat you may find that there are some abbreviations
   used with which you are not familiar.  These abbreviations are for
   various actions or phrases.  Some very common ones are: by the way
   (btw), in my humble/honest opinion (imho), and ta ta for now (ttfn).

   Appendix B provides a few Chat sites to start you off.

5.2.2  Multicasting

   Multicasting is a technical term that means that you can send pieces
   of data, called "packets", to multiple sites simultaneously.  How big
   a packet is depends on the protocols involved and it may range from a
   few bytes to a few thousand.  The usual way of moving information
   around the Internet is by using unicast protocols, which send packets
   to one site at a time.

   You can think of multicasting as the Internet's version of
   broadcasting.  A site that multicasts information is similar in many
   ways to a television station that broadcasts its signal. The signal
   originates from one source, but it can reach everyone in the
   station's signal area.  The signal takes up some of the finite
   available bandwidth, and anyone who has the right equipment can tune
   it in. The information passes on by those who don't want to catch the
   signal or don't have the right equipment.

5.2.3  MUD - Multi-User Dungeon

   A MUD is an interactive game environment where both real other
   players and virtual other players exist and with whom you can
   communicate to share ideas or solve puzzles, etc.

   The word "Dungeon" refers to the setting of many of the original
   games of this sort, in which you, our hero, must escape from a
   dungeon-like environment where evil goblins, demons, and other "bad-

Top      Up      ToC       Page 21 
   guys" are wandering around ready to kill you.  Generally the goal, in
   order to win the game, is to find and retrieve some treasure, or
   reach some hidden place, and find the way out.

   MUDs have applications in education, as for problem solving and
   leadership skills, as well as in building teamwork to share ideas and
   to enhance creativity.  Having a virtual world in which people from
   diverse backgrounds and cultures can come, again and again, to work
   on a common project, allows ideas to accrue and cultures to grow over

   For more information on MUDs, and other collaborative environments,
   explore the references in the appendices.

5.2.4 Audio Video Conferencing

   Audio Video Conferencing has many applications in the arts as well as
   in business.  Using the Internet, teachers can reach students who
   cannot get to their schools, doctors can give medical consultations
   from around the world, and artists can perform in front an audience
   they would never have otherwise.

   CU-SeeMe is a freeware desktop videoconferencing software tool.  CU-
   SeeMe allows Macintosh and Windows users with an Internet connection
   and a desktop camera (some go for as little as $100) to see, hear and
   speak with other CU-SeeMe users across the world.  This program was
   developed at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA and is
   freely available.

   CU-SeeMe allows the user to have a one-to-one communication.  It is
   also possible to have a one-to-many or many-to-many communication by
   installing a reflector on another machine running the appropriate
   software.  The reflector software must be installed on a Unix
   machine.  The software can be obtained from Cornell University's CU-
   SeeMe page listed in Appendix B.

   Whiteboard systems also enhance audio visual conferencing.  A
   Whiteboard, which is analogous to a chalkboard, is physically quite
   similar.  Using a write-on wipe-off style of whiteboard, which has
   been electronically enhanced, allows people on the Internet to share
   text, drawings, and other graphic information which is being written
   in real-time.

   Software exists which allows connections between two sites, or
   hundreds, over the Internet, the Web, or your telephone.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 22 
5.3  Archives

   Archive is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as:
    n. 1 a) a place where public records, documents, etc. are kept b) a
    place where material having documentary interest, as private papers,
    institutional records, memorabilia, or photographs, is kept.

   Archives on the Internet are pretty much the exact same thing.  The
   motivation and much of the content is the same, but the media changes
   (from paper files, to electronic files), and as such allows for a
   much greater diversity of content.

   Archives on the Internet also allow many people access to their files
   simultaneously, and from all over the world.  Many archives on the
   Internet still reside on Anonymous FTP Servers, which allow users to
   log in without a user i.d. or password.  When connecting to these
   servers the protocol used is "ftp" the File Transfer Protocol, as
   mentioned previously in Section 4.3.

   Any and all information that people want to make available on the
   Internet can be.  This means there is a truly vast amount of
   information out there, with more being added every day.  In fact
   there is so much information that it is sometimes difficult and
   confusing to find the information you want.  This is the topic of our
   next section.

   Some anonymous ftp sites are provided in Appendix B.

5.3.1 Searching

   One of the great challenges facing the Internet is how to organize
   the vast amounts of information in ways that allow most people to
   find what they want.  In theory, there may be a "perfect"
   organization, but in practice, we will never achieve it.  This means
   that finding the information you want on the net may require some
   skill on your part.  Fortunately there are many tools and strategies
   that may be helpful.

   One of the all time great ideas for finding the information you want
   is a thing called a search engine.  A search engine is a computer
   program usually living on a remote computer that spends its time
   downloading information from other computers and building an index of
   what lives where.  This behavior has given them the nickname of Web
   Crawlers.  What this means to you, is that you can call up the Search

Top      Up      ToC       Page 23 
   Engine's home page, and enter in a subject, name, title, or random
   string pattern, which is then used to search the engines index for
   stuff out on the net that seems related.  This can lead to both a
   large volume of information, and some rather startling discoveries of
   information from unsuspected sources.

   Some of the available Searchers and Indices on the Internet include:

   Yahoo      - Index of WWW sites, with search capabilities
   DejaNews   - USENET (news groups) search engine
   WebCrawler -
   Lycos      -
   AltaVista  - WWW and USENET search engine
   Magellan   - Index of reviewed and rated Internet sites, with
                search capabilities

   Yahoo, for example, has a high-level category called "Arts", which
   has a multitude of subcategories below it, most of which have further
   subdivision, each of which can contain lists of lists.

   For example, to find information on Modern Dance, from a starting
   point of, you can follow the links to or simply type
   "Modern Dance" into the search field and choose from a list of
   selections returned.

   On a typical attempt on March 25, 1997, Yahoo returned 4 major
   categories of Modern Dance, and offered 82 other links to related
   pages around the web.  Statistics, however, can be changing by the

   There are many other Searchers and Indices on the Internet, and a
   good way to find them, is to do a search for them in one of the
   services above, or others you encounter in your travels.  The
   resources in Appendix B may also be helpful.

   After experimenting with the available search engines, it quickly
   becomes clear that searching on a broad category can result in too
   much information.  For example, a recent search at AltaVista for the
   subject "Rembrandt" matched over 8500 individual items, including
   information on the famous artist (Rembrandt von Rijn (1606-1669)),
   His Self-Portrait, a hotel in Thailand (Rembrandt Hotel and Plaza,
   Bangkok),  and a pizza restaurant in California.  (The URLs for these
   sites are listed under Rembrandt in Appendix B.)

Top      Up      ToC       Page 24 
   To be more particular in what you find, all of the available search
   engines allow you to do compound searches, in which multiple keywords
   are used, possibly in combination with Boolean logic operators such
   as AND, OR, and NOT. For example, to focus in on Rembrandt the
   artist, at the exclusion of pizza cafes, try the following advanced
   search in Magellan:

   Rembrandt AND artist AND portrait NOT pizza

   Note that the method of entering search items differs slightly from
   service to service.  When trying a new service, check the available
   help topic before searching.  And as with any new skill, practice,
   practice, practice!

   Test of search scope:
     Lycos:     rembrandt.                       1837 relevant documents
     Lycos:     rembrandt and artist and portrait   6 relevant documents
     Yahoo:     rembrandt                 2 Category and 39 site matches
     Yahoo:     rembrandt and artist      2 Category and 11 site matches
     AltaVista: rembrandt                        about "10000" documents
     AltaVista: rembrandt +artist +museum          about "100" documents
     WebCrawler: rembrandt.                     347 matching "rembrandt"
     WebCrawler: rembrandt and artist and portrait 21 matching documents
     Magellan:  rembrandt                                    666 results
     Magellan:  rembrandt and artist and portrait          39379 results

   You will notice, in the above statistics, that the numbers for
   Magellan are quite different from the others.  This is because
   different search engines may function differently.  When you do a
   this+that search on Magellan, it looks for all instances of This AND
   all instances of That rather than the standard response of Only
   documents which contain both This AND That.  On almost all the sites
   I have explored, there is an explanation of how the search process
   works on that site.  You should read that explanation if you are
   having trouble or need further information.

   You will also begin to see patterns in the way people name, or file,
   their information, which will help you find more information.  Some
   may list their links to ART, while others list their links to
   PAINTINGS.  Also many people put links to related pages in their
   pages, so one page you find that does not have what you are looking
   for, may have a pointer to another page that does have what you are
   looking for. Searching is an iterative process, keep going from one
   search key to another, and continue down multiple levels to see what
   is out there.  Its known as Exploring, or Surfing the Net, and it is
   a major part of the joy of the Internet.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 25 
6. Accessing the Internet

   Having decided to explore the Internet, you will need some tools and
   information to get you started.

   Accessing the Internet in terms of simply receiving, downloading, and
   viewing files, uses most of the same tools (software and hardware)
   needed to create files and make them available on the Internet.
   Sections 6 and 7 overlap a great deal in the areas of basic hardware
   and software.

   The Internet can be accessed in many comfortable ways: at school, at
   home, at work, and even at trendy CyberCoffeeHouses.  Accessing the
   Internet is not synonymous with publishing and displaying on the
   Internet, however.  You may need different equipment for creating
   content, then you need for retrieving content.  Section 6 focuses on
   the specific needs of those who wish to create content and publish on
   the Internet.

   If you live near a major metropolitan area you may have already begun
   to see advertising for Internet access from your local telephone
   company, or cable TV provider.  Contact them to get information on
   equipment needed, services provided, access restrictions and costs

   Local libraries and schools may now offer both Internet Access, and
   instruction on Internet related subjects, including getting
   connected.  Check the Internet sections of your bookstore and
   magazine stands.

   Do not be dissuaded if you find limited access.  The Internet will
   soon be everywhere, but if you do not want to wait, then you might
   consider taking matters into your own hands as these enterprising
   youths did...

      When several students from large universities returned home to
      Taos, NM, a few summers ago, they left behind their Internet
      connections.  Missing their connectivity, they approached the
      owner of a local bakery and suggested he start an Internet room
      where he could charge people by the hour to use the Internet.  The
      entrepreneurial baker applied for a government grant and received
      a few computers with high speed modems.

   You may be able to find a place like this, often called a CyberCafe,
   rather than having to create one.  Try your local magazine stand for
   the latest periodicals, or your public library or bookstore for
   pointers to other people who will know more.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 26 
   Once you have some Internet access, you can find out more about
   Cybercafes, InternetCafes, and other physical Internet access points,
   by searching as described in Section 5.3.1. and in the newsgroup

6.1 Internet Service Providers

   Being an Internet Service Provider (ISP) these days is pretty easy
   and can be financially worthwhile, so there are alot of them, and
   they are starting and failing every day.  In addition to the
   information and pointers you will find in this document, many
   organizations exist to help you locate, and choose a service

   As with any service, be sure to get references, and get their
   features and terms in writing.  Some ISPs provide access only to
   their site, others may provide email only, or provide access to the
   web but charge by the minute for access.  Have some idea of what you
   want to do and what the vendor provides before making any deals.

   Many Internet Service Providers offer free instruction to get you
   started in accessing the Internet as well as creating content.  With
   the competition of Internet providers, you should be able to find one
   or two that offer the instruction you need.

   Some organizations exist solely to recommend those who pay them.
   Most Internet related magazines these days will contain extensive
   advertising by ISPs in your area.

   As discussed in Section 4.1, every machine on the Internet needs an
   address by which it is accessed.  Even machines which are only
   browsing need an address to which the browsed information is
   returned.  This is actually called your IP address.  The address is
   the number with which your hostname is associated.  Usually you will
   get your IP address from your work, school, or ISP when you get your
   configuration information for your Internet connection.  If you were
   trying to get an IP Address on your own, you would go to the Internet
   Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

   More information about IANA, IP addresses, and domain names can be
   found in the information referenced in the Resources section.

6.2  Computer Hardware and Software Tools

   A basic computer system consists of a box containing a Central
   Processor Unit (CPU), main controller (motherboard), and Floppy

Top      Up      ToC       Page 27 
   Drive.  It will also come with a keyboard, and you will need a Hard
   Drive, Memory, and a Video Monitor.  How much memory, how large a
   hard drive, and how fabulous a monitor, will vary with your needs and
   experience.  To connect to an ISP you will usually also need a modem.

   This is simply an overview to familiarize you with some basic terms.
   There are many current magazines devoted to computer and Internet
   related subjects now available in most bookstores and magazine stands
   which provide much better and more timely information on computers,
   operating systems, software, and peripherals.

   There are many types of computers available including Personal
   Computers (PCs), Apple Macintosh Computers (Macs), and various Unix
   based Workstations.  The most affordable systems are generally PCs
   and Macs.

   You may also need to choose an Operating System (OS) for the machine
   you choose.  PCs can run a version of "DOS", anything from Microsoft
   (Windows, NT, Windows95, etc.), or a version of Unix (BSDI, FreeBSD,
   Linux, etc.) Macs can run the common Mac Windows, or Apples version
   of Unix.  Workstations generally run a Unix derived OS, but there are
   also quite a few machines available which run their own proprietary

   Each type of system has its features, functions, and drawbacks, as
   well as its proponents and opponents.  Each system has different
   costs associated with it.  You will need to understand much of this
   before you are ready to buy your first computer.  Much of the free
   software available on the Internet, for example, was written for the
   Unix operating system because that has been the main OS of the
   Internet for many years.  That, of course, doesn't mean there isn't
   alot of free software available for other OSs, Windows software, for
   example, is becoming quite popular.  The system of choice for most
   musicians is the Mac because of the variety and quality of the music
   software available for them. Windows users will need a pc to run
   their software.  Now, actually, there are many operating systems
   available for personal computers.

   Common operating systems come in two basic types; single tasking and
   multi-tasking.  This is a reference to how many different things or
   "tasks" the computer "seems" to be doing at once.  The earliest
   computers were single tasking.  They did only one thing at a time,
   and could be used by only one person at a time.  DOS is a modern
   example of a single tasking operating system.  Since people rarely do
   more than a few things every second, this often left the computer
   simply waiting around for the next keystroke.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 28 
   Even back then, computers could do all the work needed to listen to a
   human in a few milliseconds every second, so time-slicing was
   invented to get more use out of computers.

   A time-slicing operating system is said to be Multi-tasking. It
   executes programs in little slices of time, typically shorter than 25
   milliseconds (or 1/40 of a second) and switches to another task for
   each new slice.  If you remember that most video runs at 25 or 30
   discrete frames per second, and yet humans perceive it as continuous,
   you can see how time-slicing can provide a convincing illusion of
   doing many things at the same time.

   Multi-tasking operating systems have the option of being set up as
   single-user or Multi-user machines Windows 95 and the MacOS are
   modern examples of multi-tasking operating systems that were designed
   to be used by a single user most of the time.  Other operating
   systems, such as UNIX, VMS, NT, and others are more prepared to be
   set up as multiuser machines.  Multiuser machines are typically
   connected to a network, or a network of terminals, so that more than
   one person can use the processor and other peripherals at the same

   Some operating systems can also take advantage of Parallel Processing
   hardware that actually does more than one thing at a time.  However
   as of this writing, this hardware is somewhat rare and expensive, so
   we won't go into the details here.

   Different OSs also have different File Systems.  The File System is
   the way in which your programs and other computer files are stored
   and displayed.  Different Operating Systems also have different "User
   Interface"s.  The User Interface is the way in which you interact
   with the computers OS.  Some use "Text" interfaces, which require the
   user to type all commands using a keyboard.  Others use a "Graphical"
   user interface, which provides graphical images of buttons and icons
   which the user "clicks" on to start programs and perform save and
   delete functions among other things.

   In order for the software to run on the computer, the software must
   be written specifically for the operating system.  Just like Internet
   traffic must use the Internet Protocol, software must speak the OS
   language of the computer on which it wants to run.  Translation
   programs exist, but there are still problems.

   One of the problems is with file"names".  The DOS Operating System,
   for example, supports names that consist of an 8-character filename,
   and a 3-character "extension", separated by a ".".  For example
   "foo.txt", and "myprog.exe" are valid DOS filenames, but sadly,
   "foo.html" is not.  This means that HTML files on a dos system must

Top      Up      ToC       Page 29 
   use the extension ".htm" rather than the ".html" extension used on
   many other systems.  This problem also affects many other common
   extensions such as ".jpeg", ".mpeg" and others.

   A filename's extension is very important in that it tells not only
   you, but your software, the kind of file it is, and what it needs in
   order to be understood.  For example, when your web browser
   encounters a file with a .html or .htm extension, it will assume it
   is hypertext, and will know how to display it and follow its links.
   When it gets a .txt file, it knows to display it, and that it will
   have no links.  Your browser can also be configured to understand
   other file formats which can be made to be displayed with the
   browser, or another program, or saved to disk, etc.  For example, you
   might configure your browser to start up Word when it encounters a
   .doc file.

   File extensions indicate file format.  Just as there are different
   file extensions for different text file formats, there are different
   extensions for different graphic file formats.  That goes for sound
   file formats, video file formats, data base files, and others.

   Different software understands different file formats and will create
   and display only those formats it understands.  For this reason,
   software which translates a file from one format to another is often

   For example, if you create a file with Microsoft Word you will
   usually save it in Word's native format as a ".doc" file. You can
   also choose the "save as" option to save it as plain text in the .txt
   file format.  Although some format information will be lost in the
   translation, words and numbers should remain unchanged.  If you
   wanted to give others access to the file, and you couldn't assume
   that they all have Word, you would want to present it in .txt format.
   Note that a .txt file is also easily formatted into .html.

   File formats and extensions are discussed throughout the following

   After you've resolved to some extent, what it is you want to do, and
   what hardware and OS you'll need, there are a great deal of software
   packages available to help you with all sorts of things on the

   Software designed to make your life easier by using your computer,
   include dictionaries and other reference materials, accounting,
   bookkeeping desktop publishing and other business needs software, as

Top      Up      ToC       Page 30 
   well as landscape and architectural planning software, health and
   nutrition software, educational and entertainment software, and much,
   much more.  Your computer need not only be your link to the world,
   but also a major organizational tool in your life.

   For accessing the Internet, you'll need communication software.
   There are a few different pieces to this part of the puzzle.  There
   is the software which communicates between the operating system and
   the modem or network card, there's the software which speaks IP and
   allows communication over the Internet, and there's the software
   which you use which is called the "user interface", or application
   program.  For accessing the web, your application will be a "web

   Web browsers are available in stores that sell software packages, and
   are also available free on the Internet.  Since you would not be able
   to reference the online material without a browser, and since most
   available periodicals will be likely to focus on commercial browsers,
   the Resources section provides a pointer to a free browser available
   by mail for the cost of postage, or over the Internet using the File
   Transfer Protocol, FTP.

   Ftp software is available both free and commercially.  Other Internet
   communication software, referenced throughout this document, are
   email, news, gopher, and telnet among others.

   With any system, you should ensure that it contains the software and
   hardware necessary to maintain both itself and your data.  While
   computer data is not particularly fragile, it is still sometimes lost
   due to hardware or software problems or simple human error.  For this
   reason it is considered important to "back up" your system by making
   extra copies of important data.  While simply copying data onto
   floppy disks could work, the small storage size of the disks makes it
   both time consuming and prone to human error.  Many large capacity
   disk and tape drives are available with special software specifically
   for doing backups.  It is highly recommended that you purchase a
   backup solution along with your computer.

   It is also important to protect your data from being damaged by
   computer viruses.  When you connect to the net and move data back and
   forth, it is possible that there can be a small piece of software
   called a "virus" that could hide in some of the data and infect your
   system, possibly then using your system to infect other machines that
   you connect to.  These viruses are often created by misguided people
   as a sort of computer prank, and can accidentally or maliciously

Top      Up      ToC       Page 31 
   damage your data.  Fortunately it is possible to obtain virus
   checking software that can regularly scan your system to see if it
   has been infected.  This software is important whether you are
   downloading information from the net, or using other peoples floppy
   disks.  See Section 8.2 for more information on viruses.

   Determining your ideal hardware and software configuration will take
   some time and patience.  You need an understanding of what you want
   to do, and how, and whether you wish to simply view, or create.

   You'll also want to know the limitations and expandability potential
   of the system, so you can determine if it will have a useful
   lifespan.  If the machine cannot grow for the foreseeable few years,
   it will become obsolete before its given you its fullest value.

6.3 Multimedia

   When one media is not enough.

   Depending upon your needs, you may require special hardware installed
   in the machine, or attached externally by cables.  These additional
   pieces of hardware are known as peripherals.

   The peripherals needed for accessing information on the Internet
   might include the following:

   - a sound card and speakers to hear sounds, music, speech, etc.
   - a CD-ROM player to read commercially available computer CDs
   - midi equipment for audio artists
   - video equipment
   - a printer to make hardcopy of files, or images
   - Other equipment for creating content See Section 7.

   Most of these peripherals will also require specialized software.  If
   you plan to purchase all the hardware and software at once, find a
   vendor who will connect and test all the hardware, software, and
   peripherals for you.  Due to the complexity of these systems, they
   can be difficult to configure for the inexperienced user.

   Also, verify that the vendor will stand behind their equipment, and
   this configuration in the event that it doesn't work the way you want
   it to.  Hook the system up, and test it extensively right away, so as
   to determine any problems before your warrantee period expires.

   Many of the Internet related periodicals available run articles on
   choosing a computer, as well as the latest software and hardware news
   and reviews.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 32 
   You can also explore the pointers in Appendix B for the information
   you need.

7.  Creating Content

   As the hardware and software of the net becomes cheaper and better
   understood, the technology itself will become less important than the
   content which lives on the net.  Many of the rewards of the Internet
   will go to the people who create such content.

   There are different ways to add content to the Internet.  One may
   start with pre-existing content, such as paintings or stories, and
   find a place for it, or one may create content specifically for the
   computer such as web pages, graphics, video and audio files, etc.

   Let us for the moment assume that you have already created something
   which you would like to make available on the net.  There are many
   ways in which you could do this.  You could deal with agencies who
   provide this service professionally, find friends or others willing
   to do it for free or barter, or get yourself on the net in some
   fashion, learn, and create a place for it yourself.

   If you chose to do it yourself, you will need your own computer and
   some form of Internet access from an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
   or Web Space Provider (WSP).

   Once you have a place to put your content, you will need to
   understand a little more about file formats.  Images may have to be
   digitized, audio may have to be recorded into computer files, etc.

   While hardware, such as image scanners, are readily available, there
   are also many other options available.  For example, most print, or
   copy shops today can do high quality image scans and some photolabs
   now provide photos-on-disk as one of their services.

   If you are placing your content on the Web, a web page must be
   created for it in the form of an HTML document.  While this is easy
   enough to do yourself, many WSPs also offer this service, and there
   are also independent web page designers who may be able to do a
   better job.

   Creating online content involves moving your art into an electronic
   form and then perhaps, re-formatting it for the Internet.  For some
   art forms, the initial electronic step is fairly painless: typing a
   short story, poem, novel, or other text into HTML is fairly

Top      Up      ToC       Page 33 
   straight forward.  Moving a computer graphic to the Internet may
   require a conversion program to make it useful to others.  Performing
   arts, sculpture, and other pieces may be more difficult to capture on
   a computer disk, and may require more work and creative thinking.

   Much of the information needed to help you think creatively about
   publicizing your work online is available in classes, books, local
   Internet cafes, and on the Internet itself.  Many Internet magazines
   are available for subscriptions or individual issues can help get you
   started.  Most new bookstores and, to some extent, used bookstores
   provide numerous volumes of Internet information.  However, even the
   most recently published books may contain outdated information.  The
   latest 'standards' can be obtained directly from the Internet
   Engineering Task Force, or IETF, at  The
   document you are reading now is a product of that organization.  The
   documents of the IETF are collected and maintained on anonymous ftp
   sites, as well as in the web.  These sites are referenced in the
   Resources section, and Appendix B.

   A really good way to learn how to write html documents is to look at
   the source code of html files already available.  Just use your
   browser to look for pages you like, and then use your browsers "view
   source" feature to see how it was done.

   If however, you learn better by having someone teach you, you may be
   interested in taking a HTML or Internet Introduction course at a
   local college.  Most larger metropolitan area schools provide classes
   for the basics, which can also expose you to other artists.  Make
   sure you read the course description; some courses may only cover
   accessing the Internet while you may want to actually be creating
   documents.  If no colleges in your area offer classes, contact the
   computer science department or the continuing education office and
   suggest a topic.  If the school can obtain enough support, they may
   offer a class the following semester.

   Artists in smaller communities may need to rely more heavily upon
   online sources of information.  Appendix B provides some useful sites
   to get you started.

7.1  Getting Help

   Once you are connected to the Internet, there are many more ways of
   getting help with it.  Try the forums, listed in Section 5, such as
   Newsgroups, Bulletin Boards, and Chat rooms.  If you have checked the
   local netiquette guidelines, and behave accordingly, the Internet
   community will usually be very helpful toward new arrivals.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 34 
   When looking for good consultants and web page designers, start with
   the sites you like, and find out who did their pages.  Discuss your
   needs with other artists, or check the phone book, library, books,
   magazines and other periodicals for artist collectives and groups who
   may be available to assist you.  Look for groups whose cause is
   artistically motivated, rather than trusting people who are paid to
   point you at a particular consultant or assistant.

   Know what you want.  If it takes you a while to figure out what you
   want, take that time.  This should not be something you are rushed
   into.  The Internet is not going to go away.  Whatever you decide to
   do, do not be afraid to ask for references.  A good provider of
   services will always be happy to provide you with a list of happy

7.2 About File Formats

   As described in Section 6.2, there are many file formats available on
   the Internet.  You'll need to understand a bit more about the formats
   you'll want to present, in order to create them for others to see.
   Some formats are called Public Domain, and are freely copyable, and
   the software tools used to create this content is available for you
   and others to download off the net.  Other formats are called
   "proprietary", and are only readable and creatable using software
   that must be purchased from the vendor who created it, or their
   authorized reseller.

   Some formats, and their associated formatting tools, come along with
   other software packages.  For example, Microsoft Windows comes with a
   Sound Recorder, which makes and plays back .wav files.  Apple also
   offers Quicktime free for their OS, as well as Windows and others,
   which also records and plays back .wav files.  So many Internet
   explorers already have access to tools which will allow them to hear
   your .wav file, if you were so inclined.  They may not, however, have
   a player for a proprietary format for which they would need special

   When creating content for the Internet, its important to consider the
   format most likely to be understood by your target audience.

   More information on file formats can be found at: and

   Some artists are actually using html as an artform in itself and are
   helping to push the boundaries of this exciting new medium.  The
   current HTML specification can be found in the RFCs referenced in the
   Resources section.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 35 
7.3 Creating Text and Hypertext Documents

   Text files are stored on a computer by encoding the text in ASCII,
   "American Standard Code for Information Interchange", which
   substitutes a distinct number for each character of text, and stores
   the result in a file.  Text files are often given the file extension

   Text files can be created in many ways.  The two most common types of
   programs used are called "text editors" and "word processors".
   Actually both types of programs are similar.  They both allow you to
   move around within the document, and add, delete, and otherwise
   modify text, as well as create and save text files.  Word processors
   differ from text editors in that they usually also have a great deal
   of options for formatting and printing text, and may support
   alternative file formats, such as ".doc" which inserts many
   formatting commands that are understood by printers, but not always
   by browsers.

   Since HTML formatting is simply ASCII text with special formatting
   commands, you may use either text editors or word processors to
   create a ".html" file.  Alternatively, there are many Web authoring
   tools that will allow you to use a graphical interface to specify how
   you want your page to look, and will automatically generate the HTML
   formatting commands and output an ".html" file directly.

   Text editors, Word Processors, and other document creation tools are
   available both freely and commercially for all operating systems.

   Look to currently available computer related books and periodicals to
   provide sources of information about text editors, word processors,
   and document and web page authoring tools.

   HTML is a technical specification of the Internet Engineering Task
   Force, and the most current documents can be found on the IETF
   site(s) listed in the Resources Section.

7.4  Creating Graphic and Moving Images

   Whether you want to put your existing images on the Internet, or
   create new images using electronic creation tools, there are a few
   basic pieces of information which will be useful.  The following two
   sub-sections provide an overview of image formats, and creation

Top      Up      ToC       Page 36 
7.4.1  Bitmap Image Formats

   Pictures may be stored on computers in many different ways.  One of
   the most common, is a simple bitmap consisting of a list of pixel
   colors, and header information describing how to map this list of
   pixels back into the image.  Bitmap formats are .bmp in windows, and

   Bitmap images may be created by scanning in existing images, or by
   creating images directly on the computer, using programs such as
   Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo Paint, Windows Paintbrush, and many
   others available both freely and commercially.

   A scanner works very much like a copy machine, or fax machine, in
   that it "scans" your artwork or text and "encodes" it into a machine
   readable format of numbers and formulas.  A scanner is a hardware
   tool, and usually comes with at least some of the software you need
   to use it.  Generally it will connect to your computer and you will
   either place your work on it, or run the scanner slowly over your
   work, depending on the type of scanner you select.  Scanners are only
   available commercially, and come in a variety of sizes and styles
   with a variety of features and prices.  As with all computer tools,
   understanding what you want to accomplish will help you decide what
   you need to purchase.

   Since it can take a lot of data to encode an image, there are many
   different kinds of file formats that contain compressed versions of
   the file data.  These formats vary greatly in how they compress the
   data.  Two of the most popular compressed image formats on the net
   are .gif and .jpg.

   GIF, short for Graphic Image Format, compresses an image by reducing
   the number of colors in the palette the image is reconstructed from,
   allowing them to shrink down the size of the color specification for
   each pixel.  Even if you only save a few bits per pixel, there are
   typically enough pixels that the savings are significant.  Under
   extreme amounts of compression, images start to look like childrens
   coloring books, but it is possible to get great looking images with
   moderate amounts.  GIF files typically use the extension ".gif".

   The JPEG format uses complex mathematics to approximate the whole
   image.  Under extreme amounts of compression, images start to look
   like bizarre cubist interpretations of the original image, but
   because everything about the image is compressed, it is still
   possible to get dramatic reductions in file size while retaining
   acceptable image quality.  JPEG files typically use the extensions
   ".jpeg" or ".jpg"

Top      Up      ToC       Page 37 
   Both of these formats are what is known as "lossy" compression
   because they actually lose information from the original image, thus
   degrading (hopefully by a negligible amount) the image quality.
   There are also "lossless" compression schemes that offer smaller
   reductions in file size, but allow perfect reconstruction of the

7.4.2  Vector Image Formats

   Another way images may be stored is in "vector" format.  This format
   is useful because of one of the techniques for creating images on a
   computer.  There are programs that allow you to create images by
   creating shapes like circles and polygons, and specifying colors for
   them.  If the entire image is constructed this way, it is possible to
   encode the list of information describing each polygon using only a
   fraction of the information it would take to describe each pixel.

   Vector images also have the wonderful quality that they may be scaled
   without loss of image quality.  For example, if you were to enlarge a
   bitmap image of a circle large enough to see individual pixels, you
   will find that pixels are actually square dots, and if enlarged
   enough, the circle will have very jagged edges.  However if you
   enlarge a vector image of a circle, it remains perfect down to the
   limit of resolution of the screen or printer, because it is stored as
   the mathematical representation of a circle which is independent of

   For this reason, much commercial art and layout is often done in
   vector formats.

   Vector formats may be created using many commercially available
   software packages, and many freely copyable conversion tools are also

7.4.3  Video Formats

   Images received by the retina of the eye persist for a short period
   of time, and then fade.  A sequence of images or "frames", with small
   changes, sufficiently close together, will give the illusion of a
   moving picture.  How much of the picture changes between one image
   and the next affects how smoothly or jerkily the movement will
   appear.  Frame rates of 10 per second and above are enough to give a
   reasonably realistic rendition of natural scenes.  In fact, the way
   that motion is perceived by the human brain means that less detail is
   required in fast moving segments of a picture.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 38 
   Video on your television, or Video Cassette Recorder (VCR), is
   formatted quite differently from video formatted for viewing,
   storage, and transmission over the Internet.  Disk space and
   bandwidth being constantly at a premium, methods of compressing video
   data have been developed to shrink the size these video files might
   otherwise be.

   Just as described in Section 7.4.1. regarding compression of static
   images, there are different compression utilities and formats for
   video images.  There are many video compression formats, and we have
   provided information on two here.

   MPEG (pronounced M-peg), stands for Moving Picture Experts Group.
   The mpeg format creates files with a .mpg or .mpeg extension.  Mpeg
   players are freely available on the Internet.  Mpeg files can be
   created using a number of commercially available products.  More
   information on mpeg can be found by following the links available in
   Appendix B under Video Resources.

   Quicktime was created by Apple, and is currently available for both
   Macintosh and Windows systems.  Quicktime files have a .wav extension
   and can be played with many freely available viewers.  Quicktime
   creation and viewing tools can be found via the links in Appendix B.

   There are other video formats being created all the time.

7.5  Music and Sound

   The World Wide Web supports audio data as well as visual data.  The
   most obvious way to send audio across the net would be to use digital
   audio like that used for the Compact Disc or "CD".  However, CD
   format digital audio requires 44,100 16 bit words per second for a
   mono signal, and twice that for a stereo signal.  While there are
   many places where one can find digital audio in Windows ".wav", or
   the Macintosh ".au" format, these files typically take a very long
   time to download even a few seconds of audio.  The size of these
   formats makes them too inefficient for widespread use on the net

   It is however possible to do "useful" audio over the net. The
   emerging "de facto" standard seems to be _RealAudio_, based on the
   freely distributable server/player application, _RealAudio_ version
   2.0, developed by the Seattle based company Progressive Networks.
   First released in 1995, RealAudio allows useable digital audio in
   realtime over a 28.8 kB line, and has already been put into service
   on the home pages of most major record companies as well as in many
   niche applications.  In addition, RealAudio provides a "Voice mode"
   optimized for understandable speech transmission over a 14.4kB line.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 39 
   Unfortunately the quality of _RealAudio_ leaves much to be desired.
   In particular, the sample rate in Music Mode is only 8Khz (as
   compared to CD quality 44.1 Khz), meaning that all high frequencies
   above 4khz are simply missing.  The resulting audio is still pleasing
   to listen to, but sounds very dull and dark.

   More information about RealAudio can be found at

   Clearly Digital Audio is the way of the future, but until more
   bandwidth is available to the average person, it may not be the way
   of the present.  Fortunately, at least in the area of music, there is
   an interesting alternative.

   MIDI (the Musical Instrument Digital Interface), as developed for
   electronic musical instruments (keyboards, samplers, drum machines,
   etc.) works well for certain kinds of music over the net.  It
   involves sending no sound sources at all, just the description of the
   music -- kind of like the score, without the instruments.  If the
   receiver has the right instruments on their computer (such as the
   sounds defined in the General Midi soundset found on many
   soundcards), they can play back the musical score.

   The big disadvantage to using MIDI is that other than the limited
   selection of sounds in the General Midi set, it is extremely
   difficult to make sure the music sounds more than approximately like
   the original.  And there is no way to handle non-MIDI instruments
   such as guitar or voice, so it is useless to hear the new song by
   your favorite rock and roll band.

   The big advantage to MIDI is how fast it works over slow net
   connections.  For example, five minutes of music, fits in a mere 30k
   file, and usually will not take more than a few seconds even on the
   slowest of dialup connections!  This makes it ideal for applications
   such as networked games, or music to go along with a web page.

   There are many ways of embedding MIDI files into HTML documents, for
   Internet distribution.

   Anyone who wants to add MIDI to a page can choose to use existing
   public access MIDI file banks, of which there are many, or to produce
   new MIDI themselves.

   Crescendo is one package available for embedding MIDI files in HTML Crescendo works for both Macintosh and

   Helpful Links: Publicly Available Audio and Music Applications

Top      Up      ToC       Page 40 
   Music of J.S. Bach for keyboard

   RISM (repertoire of manuscript sources), plus other access to online
   scholarly music resources.

   Crescendo is used in the web pages at
   along with a growing number of others.  One very interesting use of
   Crescendo occurs on the Music Theory Online publication, a serious
   scholarly site for publishing and debating musicology and music
   theory.  Articles there now routinely include short musical examples,
   a great sign of the future of scholarly publishing in the age of
   dynamic, interactive content.

   Formerly, debate on musical form and structure occurred in the pages
   of journals, referring usually to music examples in terms of its
   visual notation.  This notation requires a certain degree of training
   to decode, effectively restricting the potential readership to those
   with this professional training.  With sound examples embedded
   directly in the text, at least the aural effect of the music comes
   across, even to those unable to read the notation accurately.  This
   shift is appropriate to the newer trends in music scholarship, which
   talk about music in terms of its social and cultural context, instead
   of only in formal terms.

7.6  Content Design Issues

   Know your intended audience.  If you want more people to see your
   work, you'll need to make it more accessible.

   Many sites are very careful about what content they will allow access
   to.  If you want all audiences to be able to view your work, make
   sure you are careful about your content and language.

   Another content design issue is tool friendliness.  Some machines
   have limitations which will not allow them to see or hear what you'd
   like them to.  For example, older or less expensive models of
   monitors may have monochrome, or one-color displays, or display only
   16 colors, or 256 colors.  If you create and view images which look
   fabulous with a 64,000 color display, you may want to test them using
   a 16 color display to see what the effect is.  Sometimes you can
   modify your image slightly to get a wider audience while only having
   a minor impact on the effect.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 41 
   The following sites give you pointers on what to consider when
   designing a web page that is content- rich:

   - Sun's Guide to Web Style -
   - Yale C/AIM Web Style Guide -
   - Web Development -
   - A Guide to Creating a Successful Web Site =
   - Bandwidth Conservation Society -
     This is resource for web developers with an interest in optimizing

   See Section 8 for other issues and challenges relating to content.

   Artists should post how they want their art treated on the web, and
   how it may be used and post their copyright notice there.

   For example, some artists allow their work to be used freely as long
   as it is not used for financial gain, and request that people contact
   them for permission if they wish to use their works for a commercial

   Artists need to be aware that when people view their works from the
   web, their art is downloaded to the viewers computer as that is how
   browsers work.

7.7  Publicizing your work

   The fastest way to publicize your work on the Internet, is to have
   the most popular sites link to your pages.  There are many sites on
   the net, such as the search sites mentioned earlier, that are
   interested in listing a pointer to your site for their own purposes.

   It is also helpful to have other artists link to your site and it is
   great to have other art sites link to you as well.  "Art on the Net",, offers free linking to artist sites and provides this as a
   service to the artist community on the Internet.  There are also
   other art related sites which do this.

   It can also be helpful to put your URL on your business card.

   The Internet's origins in the Research and Education communities
   played an important role in the foundation and formation of Internet
   culture.  This culture defined rules for network etiquette
   (netiquette), and communication based on the Internet's being
   relatively off-limits to commercial enterprise.

Top      Up      ToC       Page 42 
   Certain styles of marketing and advertising will therefore not be
   effective on the Internet, and mass mailings or inappropriate
   postings to newsgroups, will most likely do more harm to your
   enterprise than good.  If you intend to do marketing on the Internet,
   please read the Netiquette Guidelines document RFC 1855 listed in the
   Resources section.

(page 42 continued on part 3)

Next RFC Part