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 Learn about AOL, Internet, WWW

What is the difference between the World Wide Web, the Internet, a Bulletin Board, and on-line services such as America On Line, Compuserve, Prodigy, and Microsoft Network?

The Internet

The Internet consists of computers connected world-wide, similar to the telephone system. Although companies and individuals own the computers and the connecting lines that the information is sent on, no one owns the Internet. It is governed by an international body, but is not regulated. It is self - regulating -- other people will tell you if they don't like what you are doing.

The Internet has many different types of services:

  • Gophers
  • FTP
  • Newsgroups
  • Archies
  • E-mail
  • World Wide Web

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW) displays graphics, not just text, and provides for easy navigation from page to page. When you are on the World Wide Web you are also on the Internet.

The World Wide Web consists of web sites created by individuals and companies. A web site, a group of pages containing text and graphics, has an unique address, similar to your telephone number. It is a string of numbers separated by periods. However, a web site is typically referred to by its registered name - for example:

Bulletin Boards

A bulletin board is not part of the Internet. You must dial the bulletin board directly, without connecting through an ISP, to access it. It usually displays text only, not graphics, and is typically on a specific subject.

Online Services

Compuserve, America Online, Prodigy, and Microsoft Network are examples of Online Services. These services are not directly on the Internet. It requires an extra step to connect to the service and then connect to the Internet. They include extra services such as special interest forums and chat groups.

Online services also have rules, whereas the Internet does not have any formal rules. Online services are good for families wanting to limit the content children will see. However, for this reason the online service may block access to a news group or web site because a portion has inappropriate material for family viewing.

We suggest that you use an ISP (Internet Service Provider), instead of an online service such as AOL, to connect to the Internet for business use. An online service may install extra software on your computer that is probably not needed for business and may be hard to remove. An online service may also provide a slower connection to the web, disconnect you more often, use an older browser with less features, or cost more.

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