Common Web Jargon You Need to Know

Does web jargon sometimes scramble your brain? As you strive to make sense of the Internet and the World Wide Web, you’ll find this information very helpful for you.

1. The Internet

The Internet is a vast ‘interconnection of computer networks’ that spans the globe.  It is comprised of millions of computing devices that trade volumes of information.  Desktop computers, mainframes, GPS units, cell phones, video game consoles, all are connected to the Net.

The Internet houses many layers of information, with each layer dedicated to a different kind of documentation. These different layers are called ‘protocols’. The most popular protocols are the World Wide Web, FTP, Telnet, Gopherspace, instant messaging, and email.

The World Wide Web, or ‘Web’ for short, is the most popular portion of the Internet.  The Web is viewed through web browser software.

2. http and https

http is a technical acronym that means ‘hypertext transfer protocol’, the language of web pages. When a web page has this prefix, then your links, text, and pictures should work in your web browser.

https is ‘hypertext transfer protocol SECURED’.  This means that the web page has a special layer of encryption added to hide your personal information and passwords.  Whenever you log into your online bank or your web email account, you should see https at the front of the page address.

3. URL

URL’s, or ‘uniform resource locators’, are the web browser addresses of internet pages and files. A URL works together with IP addresses to help us name, locate, and bookmark specific pages and files for our web browsers.

4. IP Address

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer, cell phone) participating in a computer network for tracking purposes. Wherever you browse, whenever you send an email or instant message, and whenever you download a file, your IP address acts like a type of automobile licence plate to enforce accountability and traceability.

5. Domain Names & Domain Registration

Domain  names and websites are Internet real estate. Domain registration refers to the process of registering a domain name, which identifies one or more IP addresses with a name that is easier to remember and use to identify particular web page. The person or business that registers  domain name is called the domain  name registrant.

6. ISP

ISP is Internet Service Provider.  That is the private company or government organization that plugs you into the vast Internet around the world.  Your ISP will offer varying services for varying prices:  web page access, email, hosting your own web page, hosting your own blog, and so on.  ISP’s will also offer various Internet connection speeds for a monthly fee. (e.g. ultra high speed Internet vs economy Internet).

Today, you will also hear about WISP’s, which are Wireless Internet Service Providers.  They cater to laptop users who travel regularly.

7. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s search results. Building the web site is just the first step. If your site can not be found by search on one of the leading search services, then you may be missing large number of potential visitors.

8. Keywords and Tags/Labels

Keywords are search terms used to locate documents. Keywords are anywhere from one to five words long, separated by spaces or commas:  e.g. “horseback riding calgary” e.g. “ipad purchasing advice”  e.g. “ebay tips selling”. Keywords are the foundation for cataloging the Web, and the primary means by which you and I will find anything on the Web.

Tags (sometimes called ‘labels’) are recommendation keywords. Tags and labels focus on crosslinking you to related content… they are the modern evolution of ‘suggestions for further reading’.

9. Content Management System

A content management system (CMS) is a tool that helps you to manage the content of your website. A CMS allows people to add, edit and publish content whilst maintaining the look and feel of the site. No specific skills are required to do this.

10. Blogs and Blogging

A blog (‘web log’) is a modern online writer’s column.  All blogs are websites – they exists on the web, and are reached using a web address – but not all websites are blogs.

Web logs are usually arranged chronologically, and with less formality than a full website.  Amateur and professional writers publish their blogs on almost every kind of topic. Readers can leave comments. This is excellent for interacting and building a fan base. Contents can be syndicated (published in multiple places at the same time) via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, allowing people to subscribe to your blog.

11. Social Media and Social Bookmarking

Social media is the broad term for any online tool that enables users to interact with thousands of other users. Instant messaging and chatting are common forms of social media, as are blogs with comments, discussion forums, video-sharing and photo-sharing websites. and are very large social media sites, as are and

Social bookmarking is a the specific form of social media. Social bookmarking is where users interact by recommending websites to each other (‘tagging sites’).

12. E-commerce

E-commerce is ‘electronic commerce’: the transacting of business selling and buying online.  Every day, billions of dollars exchange hands through the Internet and World Wide Web.  Sometimes, the e-commerce is your company buying office products from another company (business-to-business ‘B2B’ e-commerce).  Sometimes, the e-ecommerce is when you make a private purchase as a retail customer from an online vendor (business-to-consumer ‘B2C’ e-commerce).

E-commerce works because reasonable privacy can be assured through technical means (e.g. https secure web pages), and because modern business values the Internet as a transaction medium.

13. Encryption and Authentication

Encryption is the mathematical scrambling of data so that it is hidden from eavesdroppers.  Encryption uses complex math formulas (‘ciphers’) to turn private data into meaningless gobbledygook that only trusted readers can unscramble.  Encryption is the basis for how we use the public Internet as a pipeline to conduct trusted business, like online banking and online credit card purchasing.  On the provision that reliable encryption is in place, your banking information and credit card numbers are kept private.

Authentication is directly related to encryption.  Authentication is the complex way that computer systems verify that you are who you say you are.

14. Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Cloud computing is a fancy term to describe that your software is online and ‘borrowed’, instead of purchased and actually installed on your computer. Web-based email is the most prevalent example of cloud computing: the users’ email is all stored and accessed ‘in the cloud’ of the Internet, and not actually on their own computers. This is the modern version of the 1970’s mainframe computing model. As part of the cloud computing model, ‘Software as a Service’ is the business model that claims people would rather rent software than actually own it. With their web browsers, users access the cloud of the Internet, and log into their online rented copies of their SaaS software.

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