Cyberspace Glossary

Cyberspace Glossary

Cyberspace is a metaphor used to describe the nonphysical, virtual terrain created by computer systems. (The prefix "cyber" means anything related to computers or to the Internet.) Like physical space, cyberspace contains objects (files, mail messages, graphics, etc.) and different modes of transportation and delivery. Unlike real space, exploring cyberspace does not require any physical movement other than pressing keys on a keyboard or moving a computer mouse. The following definitions are general terms related to cyberspace.
  
. Internet. An enormous and rapidly growing system of linked computer networks, connecting millions of computers worldwide, that facilitate data communication services such as remote login, file transfer, electronic mail (e-mail), the World Wide Web, and newsgroups. Using TCP/IP, also called the Internet protocol suite, the Internet assigns every online computer a unique Internet address, also called an IP address, so that any two connected computers can locate each other on the network and exchange data. "Online" means connected to a network or, more commonly, the Internet. "Protocol" is a standard in data communications and networking that specifies the format of data as well as the rules to be followed.
 
. World Wide Web. A global hypertext system or "Web" that uses the Internet as its transport mechanism. Communication between Web clients (browsers) and Web servers is defined by the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). In a hypertext system, users navigate by clicking a hyperlink embedded in the current document; this action displays a second document in the same or a separate browser window. Web documents are created using HTML or XHTML, a declarative markup language. Incorporating hypermedia (graphics, sounds, animations, and video), the Web has become the ideal medium for publishing information on the Internet and serves as a platform for the emerging electronic economy.
  
. Domain. In a computer network, a group of computers that are administered as a unit. On the Internet, this term refers to all the computers that are collectively addressable within one of the four parts of an Internet Protocol (IP) address. For example, the first part of an IP address specifies the number of a computer network. All the computers within this network are part of the same domain.
 
. Domain name. In the system of domain names used to identify individual Internet computers, a single word or abbreviation that makes up part of a computer's unique name. Consider this unique, fictitious name: (cool.law. nwu.edu). "Cool" is a specific computer in the "law" school at Northwestern University (nwu). At the end of the series of domain names is the top-level domain (here, edu), which includes hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States.
 
. Domain name system (DNS). In the Internet, the conceptual system, standards, and names that make up the hierarchical organization of the Internet into named domains.
 
. IP. Abbreviation for Internet Protocol. It is the standard that describes how an Internet-connected computer should break data down into packets for transmission across the network, and how those packets should be addressed so that they arrive at their destination. IP is the connectionless part of the TCP/IP protocols. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) specifies how two Internet computers can establish a reliable data link.
  
. URI. Abbreviation for uniform resource identifier. In the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), a string of characters that identifies an Internet resource, including the type of resource and its location. There are two types of URIs: uniform resource locators (URLs) and relative URLs (RELURLs).
  
. URL. An acronym for uniform resource locator. On the World Wide Web, it is one of two basic kinds of URIs. It is the string of characters that precisely identifies an Internet resource's type and location. For example, consider the following fictitious URL:

http://www.wildcats.northwestern.edu/toros/refs/parking.html
 
This URL identifies a World Wide Web document (http://), indicates the domain name of the computer on which it is stored (www.wildcats.northwestern.edu), fully describes the document's location within the directory structure (toros/refs), and includes the document's name and extension (parking. html).
 
. RELURL. One of two basic kinds of uniform resource identifiers (URIs). It is a string of characters that gives a resource's file name (such as parking. html) but does not specify its type or exact location.
 
. Hot link. A method of copying information from one document (the source document) to another (the destination document) so that the destination document's information is updated automatically when the source document's information changes.
 
. Cold link. A method of copying information from one document (the source document) to another (the target document) so that a link is created. Cold links are distinguished from hot links in that cold links are not automatically updated; one must update them manually with a command that opens the source document, reads the information, and recopies the information if it has changed.

. Hyperlink. In a hypertext system, an underlined or otherwise emphasized word or phrase that displays another document when clicked with the mouse.
 
. Hypertext. A method of preparing and publishing text, ideally suited to the computer, in which readers can choose their own paths through the material. In preparing hypertext, information is first "chunked" into small, manageable units, such as single pages of text. These units are called nodes. Then the hyperlinks (also called anchors) are embedded in the text. When a reader clicks on a hyperlink, the hypertext software displays a different node. The process of navigating among the nodes linked in this way is called browsing. A collection of nodes that are interconnected by hyperlinks is called a Web.
  
. HTML. Acronym for Hypertext Markup Language. It is a markup language for identifying the portions of a document (called elements) so that, when accessed by a program called a Web browser, each portion appears with a distinctive format. The agency responsible for standardizing HTML is the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
 
. HTTP. The Internet standard that supports the exchange of information on the World Wide Web. HTTP enables Web authors to embed hyperlinks in Web documents. HTTP defines the process by which a Web client, called a browser, originates a request for information and sends it to a Web server, a program designed to respond to HTTP requests and provide the desired information.

. Web site. A site (location) on the World Wide Web. Each Web site contains a home page, which is the first document users see when they enter the site. The site might also contain additional documents and files. Each site is owned and managed by an individual, company, or organization.

. Web browser. A software application used to locate and display Web pages. Most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video.
 
. Web server. A computer that delivers (serves up) Web pages. Every Web server has an IP address and possibly a domain name. For example, if you enter the URL http://www.advocacy.com/index.html this sends a request to the server whose domain name is advocacy.com. The server then fetches the page named index.html and sends it to your browser. Any computer can be turned into a Web server by installing server software and connecting the machine to the Internet.
 
. Webmaster. An individual who manages a Web site. Depending on the size of the site, the Webmaster might be responsible for any of the following: (1) making sure that the Web server hardware and software are running properly; (2) designing the Web site; (3) creating and updating Web pages; (4) replying to user feedback; (5) creating CGI scripts; (6) monitoring traffic through the site.
 
Source:  John W. Cooley, The Arbitrator's Handbook, Chapter 5, 5.1.1 (National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2005), available on lexis.com.