Economics Network CHEER Virtual Edition

Volume 9, Issue 1, 1995

Resource Image

What's on the Internet for Economists? A Demonstration

What is the Internet?

As of late 1994, the Internet directly connected some 41,520 networks with roughly 3,864,000 computers (982,000 of them in United States educational institutions) in 90 countries. These numbers have been increasing at 5 or 6% a month for the last several years, or approximately doubling each year. Thus, rather than a centralized system, it is a collection of networks running the same protocols, or software standards.

Key concepts

Host Names

Host names will identify the computer in a standard format. The following examples indicate some of the possible variations within this format.

Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)

The location of Internet resources are described by uniform resource locators, known as URLs. They are effectively the phone number of information on the Internet. URLs have three parts: the protocol that accesses that resource, the host, and the location of the resource on that host. A "://" separates the protocol and host, while a "/" begins the location of the data on the host (if it ends in a "/", this often denotes that the entry is a directory). Thus, symbolically, you have "protocol://host/ location." Protocols include telnet, ftp (the "anonymous" version, which uses the password "anonymous" for public access, is the default), gopher, and the World Wide Web.

The last protocol is denoted by http (for hypertext transfer protocol); the others just use the name of the protocol. For example, Bill Goffe's on-line guide "Resources for Economists on the Internet," has one URL . [This is now at -Web Editor]

This means that the document is available via anonymous ftp from the host in the file econ-resources-faq, from the directory /pub/usenet/sci.econ.research. Another URL for it is Since this is a web resource (note the http prefix), this is a hypertext version of the guide (in it, one can read about a resource, then immediately jump to it if you are using a web browser).

Some URLs require the "port" number on the server; this will follow the host with a colon preceding the port number. Gopher URLs are sometimes the most difficult, since they contain a variety of information. Some gopher resources have a digit or two between the host and the location which describes the type of data in that URL. For the URL gopher://, the software connects you to the host, on port 70, and then moves you to the sosci/econ directory (the 11 tells the gopher client what sort of information is contained in econ).

For telnet, there may be additional material for a password and userid. In that case, the URL is telnet://userid:password@host/location.

URLs are easiest to use with World Wide Web browsers (such as Mosaic). One enters the URL, and the material from that URL is brought to the browser, even if it is a web, gopher, ftp, or telnet resource. This ease of use and incorporation of other protocols makes web browsers very useful and powerful. With clients other than web browsers, URLs have to be interpreted a bit. Telnet is usually the easiest here, since there is usually just a given host; with ftp, you must move to the given directory; and with gopher, you might have to search a round a bit since the directories given in the URL might not exactly match the ones you see on the screen. Finally, the protocol should give you a hint about what to expect. With ftp, and usually gopher, you'll be directed to a file, while with telnet you'll usually have some sort of interactive session, and with the web, it might be any of these.


E-Mail Addresses

Examples discussed are



Use a meaningful subject line. A subject of "help", particularly when received by those on more than one list, is not likely to elicit much of a response. If you're responding to a previous post, quote accordingly, but judiciously. This helps put your comments in context, yet avoids messages that are too long.

Enclose a short note (or "signature") at the bottom with at least your e-mail address. Some mailing systems mangle the information in the header with your address.

If you have a response, consider responding directly via e-mail if you think no one on the list will be interested.

Watch your temper. E-mail sometimes makes tempers flare. If you think you should wait or tone down your note, you most likely should.

Employ common courtesy. If someone helps you out, a thank you will be appreciated.

Don't type in all capital letters. It is the e-mail equivalent of shouting.


This converts a binary file (such as a word processing file or program) to ASCII so that it can be e-mailed, and then converts it back to binary. Is being superseded by "MIME" capable mailers. UUENCOCE and UUDECODE are available for many platforms:, gopher://

Subscribing to a Mailing List

To subscribe to the list Pol-Econ, send e-mail to In the body of your note, write the one line message: subscribe Pol-Econ Adam Smith (if your name was Adam Smith). Be sure to remove any signature at the bottom of your note to avoid confusing the listserv software that automatically adds you to the list. To cancel a subscription, substitute signoff list (where list is the list you no longer wish to read) in place of the subscription command above. Help on all commands can be obtained by sending a one line message with help in it.

Messages to the list members should be sent to

Any such message will be sent to all members of the list. Do NOT send material about subscriptions here; everyone on the list will receive it. Not all mailing lists use listserv software as Pol-Econ does, but the same general idea holds: subscription and signoff commands are sent to the software or person running the list, not the list members. More directions and a list of economics mailing lists can be found in Bill Goffe's guide.

Usenet Newsgroups for Economists

Try the following



Try these (an old 286 serving as an ftp site) (Journal of Business and Economic Statistics Archive)


Try these

telnet:// (library card catalog (Univ. of S. Mississippi))
telnet:// (Iowa Electronic Markets)


Try these

gopher://[_DATA.ECONOMICS] (SHSU Economics Gopher -- a good place to start)
gopher:// (EBB Monetary Data)
[No longer active]
gopher:// (National Income and Products Accounts Data)
[No longer active]
gopher:// (summary Census information for cities and counties)
[No longer active- Web Editor]
gopher:// (Economics working paper bibliographical material)
gopher:// (SEC's EDGAR)
gopher:// (AEA Directory)
gopher:// (Job Openings for Economists)
[Now at]

World Wide Web

Try these (hypertext version of Bill Goffe's guide) (U.S. Census, including Statistical Abstract and Census Lookup)
[Seems to have stopped working] (SEC's EDGAR)
[Now at -Web Editor] (NIST Guide to Available Mathematical Software) (Iowa Electronic Markets) (EINet Galaxy - has many hypertext links to various resources)

William L. Goffe
University of Southern Mississippi
George D. Greenwade
Sam Houston State University
Robert P. Parks
Washington University

The software used in the demo was as follows:

Netscape Web Browser
WinQVT (telnet, ftp, mail and Usenet newsreader)
[More recent version at[peek] - Web Editor]
Trumpet Winsock (interface between your modem,ornetwork card and Windows TCP/IP software)[peek]


Bill Goffe's 'Resources for Economists on the Internet' can be obtained in any of the following ways: -faq
gopher:// *** Internet Resources for Economists ***
gopher://[_DATA.FILESERV.ECONOMICS]ECONOMICS.INTERNET-RESOURCES (and a number of other sites as well)
Via e-mail, it can be obtained by writing SENDME ECONOMICS.INTERNET-RESOURCES in the body of an e-mail message sent to or by writing to with GET ECON.FAQ in the subject line.


Editors Note

This is a slightly amended version of a handout distributed at the ASSA session "What's on the Internet? A Demonstration?" in Washington D.C. last January. I am grateful to the authors for giving permission to publish it in CHEER.

The authors may be contacted at the following e-mail addresses:

Top | CHEER Home

Copyright 1989-2007