Web Technology Basics

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Web Technology Information: A Primer

Would you like to use Web innovations such as podcasts and wikis, but aren't sure how? Find out with the Web Technology Information Web Guide. You'll discover that the Web is filled with instruction manuals to get you going with plug-ins, RSS, mpegs, mp3s, Web 2.0, YouTube and more. For a Spanish-language version of the Guide, click here.

Web Technology Basics

Before you explore all the wonderful media and tools on the Web, it's important to get acquainted with Web technology basics.

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  • The sites in this section provide a good foundation for using the Web, and will be useful to consult for the other topics in this guide.
  • Knowing key shortcuts in your Web browser can speed up surfing. Visit a browser's Web site for tutorials. Newbie.org has a browser tutorial for Mozilla Firefox; tutorials for other browsers can be found on the upper left of the page.

Top Sites for Web Technology Basics

For general Web technology basics...
For basic information on Web technology such as file formats/extensions ... 

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News Aggregators and RSS Feeds

Keeping up to date with your favorite Web sites doesn't need to be an exercise in persistence. Learn how to use news aggregators and RSS feeds to stay current with all your favorite blogs and news.

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  • To keep track of a number of sites and blogs, use a syndication technology called Really Simple Syndication, or RSS. Many sites that update frequently post RSS "feeds" that you can subscribe to for free. A small program called an RSS reader will keep track of these feeds and instantly notify you of new content on the sites you choose. So instead of checking all your sites five times a day, you simply click on your RSS reader and see a list of what's new. For more on RSS and how it can help you keep current, see the links in this section.
  • RSS readers were designed to make things simpler for you. Overloading them with any and all sites you encounter can defeat the purpose of this time-saving technology.
  • RSS can be used to keep current even if you don't know what sites to subscribe to. Special sites called news aggregators do the picking and choosing for you, using RSS feeds to scour the world of news and blogs and bring you the latest on any topic you search for. Check out the sites below for more on news aggregators.

Top Sites for News Aggregators and RSS Feeds

For an explanation of RSS ...
To find RSS readers ...
For news aggregators ... 
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Wikis

A wiki is a community-produced and edited document. Wikis are collaborative efforts, and can continually change as new users add, edit or remove them.

Insights for Wikis

  • This must be said: Wikis are not always reliable! You don't know who's writing the content, or what their backgrounds and biases are.
  • Don't like what you see? That's the beauty of wikis: You can change them. But exercise caution. Different wiki sites have different policies, and posting slanderous, ill-intentioned information or otherwise "defacing" wiki entries can get you banned from the site pretty quickly.

Top Sites for Wikis

For a wiki definition ...
For other famous wikis ...
To search the wikisphere ... 
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File-Sharing

Though it's most famous for its illegal uses, there is nothing inherently illegal about file-sharing. There are many programs that connect you to files on other users' computers, so you can share files with users worldwide. 

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  • Once you connect to these Web sites, there's nothing to tell you which files are legal to share, and which infringe on copyrights. The onus is on you to find out.

Top Sites for File-Sharing

For a look at how BitTorrent works ...
To find torrent files ... 
For different client programs ... 
For information on the Gnutella network and client programs ... 
To download and use LimeWire ... 
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Online Media Players

Audio and video can be delivered in numerous formats using many different online media players.

Insights for Online Media Players

  • The type of portable digital media player you have, such as an iPod, determines the file format you need.This article from The New York Times illustrates the dilemma facing many digital media consumers.
  • Most media players function as plug-ins, meaning that they work with your Web browser to seamlessly display video from other Web sites. Most Web browsers automatically seek out and download the correct player for a file if you don't already have it. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to get familiar with the different formats and players.

Top Sites for Online Media Players

To understand the different file formats ...
For the major online media players ...
For inline/online/embedded ...
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Podcasts and Vodcasts

Podcasts and vodcasts are delivery methods for Internet radio and TV programs. They are essentially the use of audio or video technology with RSS feeds to bring recurring programs to an audience.

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  • Podcasts are recurring programs and often have irregular broadcast dates, making it hard to keep track of the shows you want to watch. That's where podcasting software comes in handy: to help you manage your subscriptions to different podcast feeds.
  • If you've been interested in getting your views out on the Net but blogging isn't right for you, podcasting might be just the thing. Once you have a microphone or a Web camera and some basic software, it's remarkably easy to start pod/vodcasting.

Top Sites for Podcasts and Vodcasts

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Web 2.0

You may hear the term Web 2.0 bandied around quite a bit today. Dismissed by some as a non-phenomenon, others believe it is a trend that will usher in the next age of the Internet. Instead of trying to define this illusive term, we leave it to the experts.

Insights for Web 2.0

  • Confused about Web 2.0? While it's an interesting field of development, and a catchy buzzword, Web 2.0 is hard to define. Enjoy the strange and interesting new Web sites but remember: It's content, not form, that matters in the end.

Top Sites for Web 2.0

For explanations of Web 2.0 ... 
To find Web 2.0 sites ...
For more news and info about Web 2.0 ...
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Community Links in Web Technology

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