Making Effective Use of the Web
Follow the trail
This was originally produced as Speakers Notes for a training session at Charityfair 2001, and as such are quite brief.
- Also see Background notes on web terminology
- ADSL and Internet Connection Speeds
- WebTips page has a section on Getting started on the Web.
- Online Communications Strategy - Key Questions.
Information and communication are 2 sides of the same internet coin
It can be a seen as a Knowledge Management tool (VolResource started partly as a way of structuring information into a useful package for own reference), but is struggling against the chaotic nature of a medium with high accessibility.
Quote from Arthur C Clarke: getting information from the internet is like getting a glass of water from Niagara Falls (2000).
Questions to ask on following links:
- What is the site, where am I on it, how did I get here.
- Check out the site - where is it coming from, what is its purpose, is expertise real or borrowed?
- Stats: "Who says so, how do they know, what's missing, comparable basis, does it make sense?"
- References and dates help.
Try different starting points to avoid too narrow tracks
- The Web is structured according to social networks - two main types can be seen as hubs (making loads of links to related resources) & authorities (those giving loads of info themselves)
- Confirm 'top sites in the subject' by triangulation
- Search engines (particularly free ones) which are specific to a site often work by indexing the relevant web pages in advance (maybe once a week or less) - they may not pick up on new or dynamic content. More sophisticated search engines are expensive to set up and run so are typically used by bigger organisations, universities with good IT resources and such.
Read URLs from the left to follow the structure of a site; reduce from the right if you encounter problems.
There are whole range of issues which can create problems when browsing.
- How your ISP is set up, whether you are going via their or your proxy server which keeps own copies of popular web requests or has cached a page you have looked at before. Can make it difficult to know if you are now looking at the latest version of the page/site. Pressing Refresh should do the biz, but doesnt always.
- Speed of download can be down to bad web design, network congestion, poor connection from your computer (phone or internal network), load on the web server holding the page you are requesting. Poor design will nearly always add drastically to any other download problem. (More on this and ADSL etc.)
- While your browser may cache pages you have viewed so that you can go back to them later, and offline, this can be unreliable. For important items you know you want to go back to, save a copy. Think of a directory (folder) structure beforehand if you can, as this can rapidly build to a huge volume of files, with all the graphics, style sheets frames and html which can go into one screen page.