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Glossary

blog: (from 'Web log') an online journal that is easy to update with short messages and links. The software takes care of generating pages and indexes from the various items that you 'blog'.

browser: the software with Web pages are viewed. Internet Explorer dominates the market, but there are some good open source (q.v.) alternatives.

groupware: software that enables a group of users to collaborate by sharing messages and documents over a network. VLEs (q.v.) are examples of groupware.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): the language in which Web pages are coded. These are essentially structured text documents that point to other pages using URLs (q.v.).

iChat: an Instant Messaging (q.v.) program for Apple computers.

IM (Instant Messaging): software that tells the user when friends are online and enables them to chat in real time.

linkrot: if a list of links is not maintained, its usefulness will erode as the linked sites move, disappear or update their content so that it is no longer relevant. Section 3.1 discusses how to combat this process.

lurking: reading the contributions to a virtual community (q.v.) without actively participating. It is usually good etiquette to lurk in a community for a while before contributing.

MSN Messenger: a popular Instant Messaging (q.v.) program created by the MicroSoft Network.

open source: the underlying code of some software is published and reviewed in a manner analogous to academic research. It is added to the public commons rather than kept as a proprietary secret. These "open source" programs often cost nothing, yet are superior in many respects because they can be scrutinised and customised by other programmers. There are open source programs for just about any application, including browsers (q.v.) and groupware (q.v.).

plug-in: a piece of software that works with a browser (q.v.) to allow users to view resources such as interactive tutorials or video. Being able to view an interactive online resource is a matter of having the right plug-ins.

social software: software, running on an individual's computer or on a website, with which users can create personal profiles, form groups and exchange messages. They can also 'rate' each other and so build reputations.

streaming: most files have to be downloaded from the Web before they can be viewed. Some files such as video lectures play while they are loading, which saves time. This is called streaming.

thread: some discussion forums present the messages chronologically, without respect for topic, but others show them linked by topic, each contribution appearing underneath the message it is responding to. This is called 'threading' and a debate on a particular topic is called a thread.

URL (uniform resource locator): the address of a particular file on the Web, which works from any part of the internet. An example is http://www.google.com/options/.

virtual community: a group of people communicating over a network on a shared interest, possibly via a moderator. This might be through an e-mail list, an online discussion board, a chat room or social software (q.v.).

VLE (Virtual Learning Environment): a package to help lecturers create a course website with a minimum of technical skill, including tools for discussion and document sharing.

Web log: see Blog.

wiki: a wiki is a website that visitors can edit using their browser. Groups can use a wiki to author documents collaboratively. An example is Wikipedia.org , the collaborative encyclopaedia.

Yahoo Messenger: a very popular Instant Messaging (q.v.) program, also known as 'YIM'.

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