Internet Terminology

With our new normal seeing a good percentage of everyday life activities move from in-person to online, it is important that people who are not used to spending as much time on the internet get up to speed on the terminology and slang most commonly used. As with learning any language, it can seem a bit overwhelming when you begin, but keep in mind that a lot of the terms are abbreviations and acronyms for common words you already use. Below, I’m listing my top 20 beginner words and definitions. First, I included a few basic terms that you might already know, but are important for those who may not yet have a clear understanding.

Hardware: The physical parts of a computer.

Data: Information processed or stored by a computer in the form of text, images, audio, video, or software programs.

Software: A collection of data that gives instructions telling the computer how to operate.

Operating System (OS): The software that supports a computer's basic functions, such as scheduling tasks, executing applications, and controlling peripheral devices such as printers, scanners, and CD-ROMs. Some of the most commonly used operating systems are Windows (Microsoft), Mac (Apple), Fire (Kindle), and Android (Google).

Internet: A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.

Application (App):  A computer program designed to help people perform an activity. Depending on the activity for which it was designed, an application can manipulate text, numbers, audio, graphics, and a combination of these elements. This is pretty much anything you use to perform a task on a computer, i.e., listening to music, using the calculator, typing a document, using the internet, or playing a game.

Router: A device that forwards data packets between computer networks, performing traffic directing functions on the Internet. This is a physical device that allows you to use your computer on the internet.

Browser: An app that makes it possible for you to read information on the internet. This is where you start when you want to do most things online. A few of the most commonly used ones are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox.

Web page: A page of information on the internet about a particular subject, that forms part of a website. Once you open your browser, the first thing you will see is the home web page.

Website: A set of pages of information on the internet about a particular subject, published by a person or organization.

Email: A system using computers to send messages over the internet.

  1. Link: An immediate connection between web pages on the internet. This is a one click option that takes you directly to the web page where the previously described information is.
  1. Download: Copying data from one computer system to another, typically over the internet.
  1. Streaming: The activity of listening to sound or watching video directly from the internet without saving it to your computer.
  1. Freeware: Computer programs that you can copy from the internet and do not have to pay for. Make sure that any freeware you download comes from a reputable source.
  1. Captcha: A system that is used to make sure that a human being, not a machine, is using a computer. Captcha is most commonly seen when dealing with sensitive personal information.
  1. Spam: Unwanted and or unrequested messages, usually advertisements.
  1. Malware: A software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. These can be hidden in a link to another web page, an advertisement, or a download.
  1. Phishing: An attempt to trick someone into giving information over the internet or by email. This is sometimes in an email or on a web page where they are asking you to fill in a form or give some personal information to continue to the next page.
  1. Cookies: Information stored on your computer about internet documents or web pages that you have visited.
  1. Net Neutral: The idea that internet providers must treat all content equally, and make all information equally available to users.
  1. The Cloud: A computer network where files and programs can be stored. This is a place where you can store data you want to keep within the internet so it doesn’t take up space on your personal computer. If you have an email account, you are already using the cloud because that's what keeps your emails stored ready for you to view later.
  1. Portal: A page on a website where one most likely has an account, that shows information the user wants to see, and has links to specific web pages.
  1. Blogs and Vlogs: A regular record of your thoughts, opinions, or experiences that you put on the internet for other people to read. If you are reading this right now, then you are looking at a blog. A vlog is pretty much the same thing just in video format, not written.
  1. Social Media: Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Some of the most popular apps are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Tumblr.
  1. Podcast: A radio program that is stored in a digital form that you can stream or download from the internet and play on a computer or on an MP3 player.

 Make sure you check out the latest episode of Your Library Podcast by clicking here

  1. Post: A message or data that you publish on a website or social media app.
  1. Troll: Someone who leaves an intentionally annoying or offensive message on the internet, in order to upset someone, get attention, or cause trouble.
  1. Lurker: Someone who reads the messages without posting or taking part in the conversation.
  1. Emoji: A small digital image or icon used to express an idea or an emotion.
  1. Cryptocurrency: A digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoin and Ethereum are two common currencies.

So maybe you knew most of these already- I did say this was for beginners. However, if you would like to go a little deeper, I have added a few links to websites that have more terms and definitions, many that I didn’t know, to increase your knowledge base so you can be fully prepared to enter this brave new world.

cambridge.org Dictionary of Internet Terms

cyberbullying.org Online Safety Terms to Know

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