that have all agreed to use a common protocol for communicating with one another. While the National Science Foundation (NSF) has contributed to its development, no one owns the Internet, and its decision-making is distributed. Most of the services offered on the Internet are free, in keeping with the hacker's credo, "Information wants to be free."
The Internet is vast and sprawling. It's growing so quickly that no one knows exactly how many people actually use it, though an estimated 25-30 million people have access to Internet email. New services are added daily. The lack of central administrative control makes it challenging to use for newcomers and veterans alike. Fortunately, publishers have put out dozens of books about the Internet and its services in the past couple of years. The first of these books, The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog by Ed Krol, is still the best overall introduction. (See the bibliography for more Internet books.)
Q. What's available on the Internet?
The resources of the Internet grow hourly. The thousands of free public servers on the Internet hold a significant portion of human knowledge, from developments in plasma physics to recipe collections and archives of fine art.(Endnote #7)
Once you have access to the Internet, you can use a variety of applications to retrieve the information you want. Email connects the Internet
to commercial online services and other networks.
Mailing lists allow
large numbers of email subscribers to maintain running discussions on
topics of special interest, from schizophrenia to Slovakian politics.
USENET news is a riotous assortment of discussion groups ("newsgroups") that you can browse and contribute to.
Telnet allows you to
log into remote servers over the Internet.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
is a simple file transfer tool that lets you download information, often