surf's up: IN THE SLOW LANE: 2 THE WORLD WIDE WEB

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Present interest in the Net can be attributed to one glorious innovation, the World Wide Web - a network of documents stored on thousands and thousands of computers, scattered all the way around the globe.

These documents aren't what you'd normally expect to find on a computer. They're not dull monochrome, but full of colour, crammed with exciting imagery. They can even include sound or movie footage that you can download with the click of a mouse button. You know that television ad where a house becomes a city with the introduction of a PC to the family home? Well, the Web really does mark that kind of revolution - information on everything from the arts to banking suddenly becomes accessible in dazzling, unimaginable quantity and variety. Who needs a newspaper!

The key to the Web's success lies in something called "hypertext". As you read Web pages you'll find certain words are highlighted. Click on one of these and you'll be transported to another place on that site, or to another site altogether. For instance, you may be reading a general piece about wine, and just by clicking on "Chardonnay" you could be transported to Sainsbury's Wine Direct (http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk) where you can order a crate of the stuff - to be delivered to your door the very next day.

These links have led Web users to create the term "surfing the Net". While most Netizens would cringe at such an expression, it really does describe what it feels like. Certainly it's very easy to lose yourself as hours and hours are spent jumping from one site to another, following whatever happens to take your fancy at that particular moment.

The best thing about the World Wide Web, however, is that it's all totally free - almost. Some sites charge an "entry fee" or subscription to enter but they are relatively unheard of, and the software you need for your computer can be obtained as "freeware" - your Internet Service Provider sends it to you when you subscribe. If you're already online, you can download the software you need from ftp.mcom.com.com/netscape/. Finally, you can take advantage of our CompuServe offer - and receive the software that way. Instructions for actually using the software really aren't needed. Anyone can click a mouse - even after that Chardonnay.

8 e-mail: dp93@cityscape.co.uk

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