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The Web:
Driving Internet Growth


While e-mail may be the workhorse of Internet communications, it is the World Wide Web that has captured our imagination. Today's amazing Internet growth is a direct result of the development of the web browser.

Prior to the introduction of this software, Internet communications were extremely vanilla-flavored. Text, text, text. One type size. Arcane codes. In a word - Boring! The browser changed all that.

Overnight, it became possible to present information in a graphical format. Pictures. Color. Varying type sizes (and faces). And the most radical innovation, hyper-text links.

I had experienced a hyper-text link before logging onto the Internet - I just didn't know it. When using the online help that came with a software program, I clicked (with my trusty mouse) on "Contents" and magically an alphabetical list appeared in its place in my window. I clicked on one word in the list, and, voila, I had jumped to that section of the help document!

Now imagine being able to jump not only within one document, but also between different documents, and you have an idea of the potential of Internet inter- connectivity.

Myriad of resources

To research this column, I decided to "surf," which means start at point "A," then keep clicking on links to move through the Web in a somewhat random manner. I say somewhat, because usually there is a relationship (although it may be tenuous) between the links and the page where they are located.

I started by running an Internet search on the key-word "nonprofit," using Lycos, a premier search program. In my travels, I discovered the following (in no particular order):

  • The Istook Amendment, a proposal to restrict access to federal funds by nonprofit organizations, appeared in several sites, including a periodic newsletter by Seattle educator Putnam Barber, president of The Evergreen State Society. This was my introduction to the subject; a few days later the Seattle Times ran an editorial opposing the amendment;
  • Mail Rate Changes; effective October 1, nonprofit postal rates for second and third- class mail increase. Since my organization doesn't use these rates, I was unfamiliar with the scheduled increase;
  • Internet Resources for Meeting Planners; this web page includes links to professional associations like the International Association of Business Communicators as well as service providers for taping presentations and booking speakers;
  • Management Discussions, from the nonprofit newsgroup, soc.org.nonprofit delved into fundraising, the role of the board of directors, and how to evaluate a CEO; and
  • The National Center for Nonprofit Boards, a gopher resource from this national organization with a mission to help other nonprofit leaders improve their management skills gopher://ncnb.org/7002/1/.

Resources for nonprofits and associate members are not limited to the Internet; online services also provide support. The Nonprofit Risk Management Center of Washington, D.C. advertises a free newsletter (three times/year) dealing with risk management and insurance topics on America Online. For a free subscription (to charitable nonprofits), send your name, organization, address, city, state, zip, phone, fax, and e-mail address to HN3439@aol.com or via fax to 202-833-5747.

America Online also hosts the Nonprofit Professionals Network, provided by access.point. This group is soliciting nonprofit organizations that may wish to create their own network areas on AOL. For more information, contact Patti Milberg at pmilberg@aol.com.

Which program?

Before web browsers, the intrepid Internet explorer needed one software program for reading newsgroups, another for finding and downloading FTP files and still another to find gopher documents. Today¹s browser does it all (see above surfing), plus it adds access to the graphics-based web pages.

Those of you exploring the World Wide Web from the comfort of an online service do not need a third-party browser. Your online service has a browser "built in," although you may need to upgrade your online service software to use it.

Those of you contemplating direct Internet access will need a browser. Mosaic and Netscape are the two most popular browsers. Mosaic, the granddaddy, is still free and can be found at the University of Illinois site, http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/Software/Mosaic/NCSAMosaicindex.html. Netscape, which recently went "public," has an online "store" at http://www.netscape.com. Both are available on disks coupled with Internet guidebooks.

Netscape is currently beta testing version 2.0, which, among other things, will add e- mail. Based on my limited experience with Netscape mail, I will probably keep Eudora. And I'll keep my off-line newsreader, NewsHopper, because of the off-line feature as well as the WYSIWYG nature of its mail window. You see, Netscape's mailer posts responses to newsgroups with lines that go on-and-on-and-on, prompting me to wish I had pressed the "return" key .... but of course I quit pressing that key to mark the end of a line years ago!

It's those type of details which are still being ironed out in this new world of electronic communications. Next month: stages of organization electronic growth.

circa 4th quarter 1995

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Copyright Kathy E. Gill, 1996 and 1997. Comments? keg@dotparagon.com

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