Harley Hahn's
Internet Advisor

Chapter 1...

Understanding the Internet

The INTERNET — often referred to as the NET — is a general-purpose, international communication and information system. Once you have access to the Net, there are many things you can do. You can send and receive messages, access a great deal of information, and participate in ongoing discussions with people all over the world. You can also read the news, chat with people, go shopping, search for information, play games, look at pictures, listen to music, watch videos, and find lots of free programs for your computer.

So what is the Internet? It's really not one simple thing, but rather, a complex collection of resources. To understand the Internet and what it means to us today, let's take a few moments and start at the beginning.

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What Is the Internet?

The roots of the Internet go back to the late 1960s. At that time, a project called the ARPANET was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (ARPA was the Advanced Research Projects Agency). The goal of the Arpanet was to connect a number of computing facilities around the United States.

In general, we connect computers in order to share information and resources. When we do so, it is called a computer NETWORK. The Arpanet was a long distance computer network with a special requirement, one that would later turn out to be very important to the Internet.

The late 1960s was during the Cold War, and the U.S. Department of Defense was particularly concerned with the possibility of nuclear attack. For this reason, the Arpanet was designed to keep working even if someone dropped a bomb on part of the network. If some of the communication links were destroyed, the rest of the network would still function.

The project to create such technology was successful, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the network expanded and became the Internet. At first, the Internet connected only military and university computers, but gradually, more and more companies and individuals joined. Today, millions of people around the world have access to the Net.

Thus, in a single generation, the Internet grew from an experimental project to a global network that has permanently changed our culture. By any standard, the Net has been fabulously successful. But why did this happen, and how did it happen so quickly? The answer is twofold.

First, the original technology developed for the U.S. Department of Defense has proven to be highly reliable. Although no one has ever dropped a bomb on the Internet, it is common for computers and communication lines to stop working temporarily. When this happens, the computers that run the Internet automatically re-route the flow of information around the broken links until they start working again. So one reason the Internet has grown so large is that it is so resilient.

When a computer or a communication line stops working, we say that the computer (or line) is DOWN. Similarly, when a computer or a line is working, we say that it is UP. The Internet is vast and at any time, there are bound to be some computers that are down. Regardless, the Internet as a whole is robust enough that it never goes down. In fact, the Internet is so large and so complex that there is really no way to turn it off.

Think about that. For the rest of your life — and for many years to follow — there will be an Internet and it will always be up. Indeed, the Internet will still be around when you and I are long gone.

The second reason the Net grew so quickly has to do with the nature of human beings. We are a species that loves to communicate. To participate in the Internet you need a computer, but it was not until the mid-1990s that personal computers became both powerful and inexpensive. However, once the average person could afford a PC, it didn't take long for tens of millions of people to buy computers and join the Net. The history of the 20th century shows us that people have always used new technologies to communicate faster and better. There is something in our biological blueprint that makes us want to talk to each other and to share information.

To be sure, everything is not perfect on the Net. There are dishonest people who will be glad to cheat you out of your money and lie to you if it will help them get what they want. And there are individuals who are willing to use the Internet for anything — legal or not — in order to make a buck.

But this is life, and any group of people is going to have its share of dishonesty and deceit. However, as you learn more about the Internet and how it works, you will come to a marvelous realization. The Internet provides a safe way for people to gather, and, when people feel safe, they have a natural tendency to share and to help one another.

The Internet is a wonderful system, and in a very real sense, it reflects our biological destiny as a species.

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What Is It Like to Use the Net?

Using the Internet is a lot like using a computer for anything. You sit in front of the monitor (computer screen) and look at words and pictures; you use the keyboard to type words, commands and other information; and you use the mouse to click on particular objects and to make selections.

However, there are two important considerations when you use the Net. First, you can't use any Internet resources until your computer connects to the Internet. For home users, the most common way to access the Internet is to have your computer connect to another computer over a telephone or cable line.

The second consideration is that it takes longer to access information from the Internet than it does to access information from your own computer. For example, when you use a word processor to write a letter, the information you type is saved to a file on your computer. You can access that file whenever you want, usually within a second or two. When you access information over the Internet, you must wait for a request to be transmitted from your computer to a remote computer, and then for the information to be sent from the remote computer back to you.

Sometimes this happens so quickly, you don't even notice the delay. Other times, however, you will find yourself waiting for seconds at a time. Although this might not seem like much, your brain works quickly, and waiting even a few seconds can be boring and aggravating. For this reason, I suggest that you get yourself as fast an Internet connection as possible. (We will talk about Internet connections in more detail in Chapter 3.)

I'll tell you something interesting, though. Once you have access to the Internet, the distinction between your personal computer and the rest of the world begins to blur. Within a short time, you will become so used to accessing information from around the world that you will take your position in the global community for granted.

You will be connected.

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The Secret of the Internet:
Clients and Servers

The Internet is a vast network involving millions and millions of computers all over the world. So how is it that you can connect to the Net whenever you want and just start using it? And how can it be that you can sit in front of your computer, typing and mouse clicking, and have the Internet respond to what you are doing? The secret is an arrangement based on programs called "clients" and "servers". However, before we discuss clients and servers, I want to take a moment to talk about computers in general.

When we talk about a computer, we are really talking about three completely different systems working together. First, there is the HARDWARE, the physical parts of the computer (the machinery, so to speak). Second, there is the SOFTWARE, programs that control the operation of the computer. Finally, there is DATA, all the information that is stored in the computer.

What is a program? Most machines in our lives are designed for specific purposes. An oven heats food. A telephone lets us talk to another person. A car moves us from place to place. Computers are different in that they are designed as general- purpose machines capable of doing many, many things. A PROGRAM is a long list of instructions that, when carried out by a computer, make it act in a certain way. A computer is versatile because it can carry out many different programs, each of which makes the computer act differently.

When a computer follows the instructions in a program, we say that the computer RUNS or EXECUTES the program. For example, to make your computer act like a word processor, you tell your computer to run a word processing program.

Now let's relate this to the Internet.

Think about the telephone system for a moment. This is a system designed to be used by people. You pick up a phone and you call another person.

On the Internet, it is the computer programs — not the people — that communicate with one another. If you want something, you need to have a program do it on your behalf. Even when you send messages to another person, you need a program to carry the messages back and forth. Thus, the Internet is not really designed for human beings — it is designed for computer programs.

Just think for a second how totally cool this is. We (the human race) have created a huge, global information network in which computer programs — like trained robots — are constantly running around doing things for us.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of programs used on the Internet: those that provide a service and those that request a service. A program that provides a service is called a SERVER. A program that requests a service is called a CLIENT.

Here is an example. Say you want to use electronic mail to send a message to someone. You use a mail client program that runs on your computer. Once you have composed the message, your mail client uses the Internet to contact a mail server program on a remote computer. Your client sends the message to the server, which makes sure it is delivered. (Don't worry about the details for now.)

Similarly, you can use your mail client to check for messages that have been sent to you. Your client contacts the mail server and requests any messages that have been sent to your electronic mail address. The server sends the messages to your client, which then displays them on your computer.

Much of learning how to use the Internet involves learning how to use the various client programs. In Chapter 2, I will discuss many of the resources that are available on the Net — for example, electronic mail, the Web, and Usenet discussion groups. To use an Internet resource, all you need is an Internet connection, the appropriate client program (running on your computer), and a knowledge of how to use that program to get what you want. For example, to send and receive electronic mail, you use a mail client; to access the Web, you use a Web client; and to participate in a Usenet discussion group, you use a Usenet client.

So that is the secret of the Internet. The whole network is one large client/server system. The purpose of the Internet is to provide a reliable way to pass data between clients and servers.

To access the Internet, you use client programs that run on your computer. Your clients carry out your commands by passing data back and forth to server programs. A server program might be in the next room, across the country, or on the other side of the world. It's all the same to the client. And that is what makes the Internet so powerful.

— hint —

A server is a program that offers a service, but we often use the word "server" to refer to the computer itself.

For example, say you are being given a tour of a company. As you pass a room full of computers, the tour guide points to one of the machines and says, "That's our Web server." What he really means is, "That's the computer that runs our Web server program."

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How TCP/IP Makes the Internet Work

To make the Internet function, computers connect to one another in order to pass data (information) back and forth. In fact, one might characterize the Internet as millions of interconnected computers constantly passing around data. To make such communication efficient and reliable, the Internet uses a system in which data is sent in chunks. Here is how it works.

When a computer needs to send data to another computer, it divides the data into electronic PACKETS. The packets are numbered and marked with the address of the destination computer. They are then sent out over the Internet to be delivered. At the other end, the destination computer collects the packets and reassembles them into the original data.

For example, say you use electronic mail to send a picture of yourself to your mother. The actual picture is stored in a file on your computer. That file is broken into packets and sent to your mother's computer, where the packets are automatically reassembled into a copy of the original file. The beauty of the Internet is that your mother doesn't have to worry about the details. As far as she is concerned, the file was sent intact from your computer to hers. All she has to do is look at the picture and send you a message back asking when you are going to get a haircut.

This system has two important advantages. First, it is efficient. No matter how much information is sent from one computer to another, the data is always broken up into packets that are the same size, and the Internet is fine-tuned to transport such packets as quickly as possible.

Moreover, it doesn't matter how the packets are sent to the destination or in what order they arrive. The Net can route each packet using whatever connections are available at that moment. Because the packets are numbered, it is no problem to reconstruct the original data once all the packets reach the destination, even if they did not all follow the same route. This flexibility allows the Internet to operate as efficiently as possible.

The second advantage to this system is reliability. The destination computer has a way to test each packet as it arrives to see if any errors were introduced while the packet was in transit. If a packet has errors, the destination computer will send a message to the source computer asking it to send the packet again. In this way, all the data does not need to be resent, only those packets that arrived with errors. This system makes the Internet reliable without slowing things down unacceptably.

When computers send data back and forth, we say they TALK to one another. Of course, this is only a metaphor. Computers don't talk to each other the way people do. What is really happening is that a program running on one computer sends data to a program running on another computer. (Still, it's fun to imagine millions of computers on the Internet connecting and talking to each other, at high speed, without any help from humans.)

For this system to work, the various computer programs that run the Internet must be able to send and receive data according to standard specifications called PROTOCOLS. There are well over a hundred different protocols used on the Net, each for a specific purpose. For example, there are different protocols used to transport electronic mail, to distribute Web-based information, to copy files from one place to another, and so on. The Internet protocols are highly technical, and you certainly don't have to understand them to use the Net.

Still, some of them are used a lot, and you will see their names, so, for reference, I have listed the most important Internet protocols in Figure 1-1. Don't worry about understanding what they all mean for now. I just want you to see the list so you will recognize the various names when you see them.

Figure 1-1: Important Internet (TCP/IP) Protocols

Name      Full Name              Purpose
DNSDomain Name SystemTranslate domain names to IP numbers
FTPFile Transfer ProtocolCopy files between computers
HTTPHypertext Transfer ProtocolDistribute Web data (hypertext)
IMAPInternet Message Access ProtocolAccess mail and other messages
IPInternet ProtocolTransport data packets
MIMEMultipurpose Internet Mail ExtensionsEncode different types of data
NNTPNetwork News Transfer ProtocolDistribute Usenet news articles
POPPost Office ProtocolGet messages from a mail server
PPPPoint-to-Point ProtocolConnect a computer to the Internet
S/MIMESecure MIMEEncode data securely
SMTPSimple Mail Transfer ProtocolSend messages to a mail server
TCPTransmission Control ProtocolManage the flow of data packets
TelnetTelnetLog on to a remote computer

The various Internet protocols are developed and approved by an organization called the INTERNET ENGINEERING TASK FORCE (IETF). The IETF forms working groups to study problems and create solutions. This allows the Internet to function smoothly and to evolve as conditions change.

Earlier, I explained that all data on the Internet is transported as packets. The two most important protocols are the ones that provide this basic transport. IP (Internet Protocol) is used to move data packets from one place to another. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) manages the flow of packets and ensures that the data arrives intact without errors.

These two protocols are so important that the family of all the Internet protocols is called TCP/IP. Thus, what keeps the Internet running is millions of computers running millions of programs, all talking to each other using the TCP/IP set of protocols.

— hint —

If you want to sound like a real pro when you talk about TCP/IP, don't pronounce the slash. Just say the five separate letters real fast.

For example, "Of course I know all about T-C-P-I-P. It's the family of protocols that is used to run the Internet."

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Talking About the Net

We all identify with our computers, much more than we like to admit. Perhaps this is because computers are brain tools: we use them to gather information, to help our thinking and to aid our creativity. You can see just how close we have become to the machines by noticing how we talk about them.

When you use a computer, it is common to talk as if you and the computer form one indivisible unit. For example, say you are in a bookstore — looking for new Harley Hahn books — and you run into a nerd (computer expert) who asks if you have any Internet problems.

"Well," you say, "I've been hearing about computer viruses. Do I need to do anything to protect myself against them?" "Most of the time," replies the nerd, "viruses aren't much of a problem. However, if you are worried, you can always use an antivirus program."

Notice that the nerd talks as if you would use the program, even though programs are run by computers, not people. Notice also that you used the expression "protect myself" when you really meant "protect my computer".

This sort of talk is so common that we take it for granted, especially when we talk about the Internet. For instance, it is common to hear people say things like, "I went crazy during my vacation. I couldn't connect to the Net for a whole week."

Similarly, we use the word ON to describe being connected to the Internet. ("Shirley spent so much time on the Net, she didn't even notice her husband had run off to Venezuela with the cleaning lady.")

However, in one sense, using words in this way is accurate. The Internet is much more than computers and information and wires. A big part of the Internet — perhaps the major part — is the people who use it. When you use the Net, your mind connects to something a lot larger than yourself. As you will come to realize, the power of the Internet lies in its ability to connect millions of human minds into one gigantic, global organism.

Thus, you will see the word ONLINE used to describe anything that is connected to the Internet: people, computers or services. ("Shirley spent a lot of time using the Net, but her husband was rarely online, and she didn't get a chance to talk to him very often. Fortunately, she found a brand new Web site that had just come online, one where she could talk to people about relationships.")

Since people are so important to the Internet, I would like to finish this section by discussing a couple of words that are used on the Net to describe special types of people.

I have already referred to a nerd. A NERD or a GEEK is someone who spends large amounts of time engaged in an activity in which he is particularly knowledgeable.

Most of the time, these words are used to describe someone who knows a lot about computers and the Net. ("Tammy knows everything there is to know about designing Web sites. She's a real nerd." Or, "Alex is a Visual Basic geek, so ask him if you have any programming questions.")

However, a nerd or a geek can also be someone who has a particular type of esoteric knowledge. ("Eugene is the Buffy nerd around here, so he's the one to ask if you have any questions about Spike and Drusilla.")

The difference between a nerd and a geek is that nerds spend a lot of time by themselves, while geeks have better social skills. In other words, a geek is a nerd who is cool. ("I wish I had the nerve to ask out Lunaea on a date. She's such a Buffy geek.")

— hint —

If you spend a lot of time on the Net, try to become a geek rather than a nerd.

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Words to Avoid

As you learn to use the Net, you will encounter a great deal of Internet terminology, and throughout this book I will be teaching you a lot of new words. However, there are a few words I want you to avoid, so let's talk about them now.

First, never, ever use the word SURF to refer to using the Internet. This word is so overused as to instantly mark you as a person who doesn't know what he is talking about. This is fine if you are a politician giving a speech about "Communication in the 21st Century", but for everyone else, "surfing" is out.

Similarly, never use the word CYBERSPACE (or cyber-anything for that matter) to refer to the Net. If there was ever a time when these words were cool, it passed a long time ago.

What's in a Name?

information superhighway

Using the word "surf" in relation to the Internet comes from an article entitled Surfing the Internet, written for a librarian's journal by Jean Armour Polly in 1992. After the journal was published, Polly used the Internet to make the article available for free, and it soon became enormously popular. By the mid-1990s, people all over the world were using the word "surf" to refer to cruising around within a big system, for example, "surfing the Internet" or "channel surfing" (jumping from one TV channel to another).

The word "cyberspace" comes from a 1984 book called Neuromancer, written by William Gibson. In the book, cyberspace was a futuristic computer-mediated environment. As the Internet became popular, the word "cyberspace" — and then the prefix "cyber" — was used to refer to anything having to do with computer networks.

My advice is to never use any of these words. "Surf" and "cyberspace" haven't been cool for years.

Finally, I want to mention the word NEWBIE. A newbie is a person who is a newcomer to the Net, but the only people who use this word are newbies, so please, leave it out of your vocabulary.

The Internet is a place where how you talk and how you act is much more important than what you look like, where you live, or how much money you have. People on the Net will judge you by the words you use, and I want you to look good. You are one of my readers, and it is important to me that people see you as the intelligent, discriminating and thoughtful human being you are — not a clueless goober.

(After all, if you were a dummy you wouldn't be reading this book.)

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Who Runs the Internet?

Nobody runs the Internet. This is because the Internet is not one big network. It is actually a collection of many, many smaller networks, computers and data communication lines. Each of these pieces is administered by some person or organization, but no one manages the Internet as a whole.

For example, say that a company has 100 computers connected into a local network. This network connects to the Net, providing Internet access to each of the 100 people who use those computers. The company is responsible for managing its part of the Net: the 100 computers, the local network, and the link to the Internet.

Here is another example. Consider a large university that has thousands of computers. These computers are organized into many small networks that connect to a larger, campuswide network. The campuswide network connects to the Net, giving everyone at the university Internet access. The university as a whole manages the campuswide network and the main Internet connection. Each individual department manages its own local computers and networks.

This sense of responsibility scales down as well. You are responsible for your own part of the Net: your computer. It is only a small part, and it is yours and you are in charge of it.

That is how the Internet is administered. Each person or organization is responsible for their own part and nothing more. So although every part of the Internet is managed by somebody, no one is in charge of the whole thing.

One important characteristic of the Net is that, because no one is in charge, you have a great deal of freedom. For example, you can say whatever you want, and you can offer whatever information you want to the world at large. Remember, though, other people have the same freedom, so you need to be careful. No one regulates the Net and if something bad happens or someone offends you, there is no one to whom you can complain. It is up to you to keep yourself out of trouble (but it is also up to you to have fun).

You might wonder, why is the Internet organized this way? Human beings do not generally set up organizations without putting somebody in charge. The answer is that the Internet was not developed to reflect human nature. The Internet was developed to offer reliable connections between computers.

Earlier in the chapter, I explained that the technology that drives the Net was originally developed by an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Their goal was to create a network that would keep functioning if parts of the network went down. To achieve this goal, the creators of the Internet came up with a design in which each part of the Internet has its own independent existence, and a computer can access the Net simply by connecting to any computer that is already on the Net.

As human beings started to use the Internet, they created a strange mixture of human/computer collaboration in which intelligence and power are distributed throughout the Net and not centralized. What makes this even more remarkable is that virtually all of this creation was done without conscious thought on our part. Each of us just does what comes naturally, not really thinking about what the whole thing means on a global scale.

Thus, as we begin the 21st century, we find ourselves with the Internet — a marvelous communication and information system that is large enough to span the globe and small enough to connect to a single personal computer — all without having anyone in charge.

No one runs the Net and no one owns the Net, but don't let that bother you. No one owns the sun and the stars, and no one runs the air, the water and the land, but somehow everything works just fine.

The Net is relatively new, but it is going to be here for the rest of your life —and it will be around long after you and I are gone.

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Where Is the Center of the Net?

On the Internet, the lines of communication stretch out indefinitely in every direction. The reason is that TCP/IP — the family of protocols used to run the Net — was designed to transport data packets between any two specific computers. Still, there is no way to send data to everyone at the same time. This is fortunate, because if the Net did have universal broadcasting capabilities, it wouldn't be long before the entire network would become completely clogged to the point of uselessness. (Just imagine, for example, what the Internet would be like if companies could broadcast commercials.)

This gives rise to an interesting phenomenon. In theory, having Internet access allows you to reach millions of people. In practice, since there is no way to broadcast to everyone, you can't really reach people unless they want to reach you, or unless you have their electronic mail addresses.

For instance, say you put up some information on your own personal Web site. (We'll talk about the Web later.) In theory, millions of people around the world can now access that information. In practice, however, there is no way to compel anyone to look at your site, and the chances of millions of people visiting are remote.

However, the Net is a funny place. Once you put something on your Web site, people who are interested in that type of information will find it. As strange as it seems, on the Net, information has a life of its own. If you offer something that is important or useful or interesting or fun, the word will spread and the right people will find you.

Let's say, for example, you enjoy model railroads, so you create an interesting Web site devoted to your hobby. It won't be long before the model railroad enthusiasts will find you. Word will spread in various ways: by electronic mail, within various discussion groups, and on the Web itself. Pretty soon, other model railroad buffs will start to make links from their Web sites to your Web site.

There are other ways in which information spreads on the Net (including special tools we call "search engines"), and we will talk about them throughout the book. For now, all I want is for you to begin to appreciate the power of the Net and why it is so good for humanity. The Net helps people find what they want when they want it, and it brings like-minded people together to share and to collaborate.

— hint —

Wherever you are is the center of the Net.

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Pornography, Bad People, and Other Evil Things Hastening the Downfall of Civilization

Since no one runs the Internet, there are no Net police, and people can pretty much do what they want. Of course, you still have to follow the laws where you live. For example, if you make money on the Net, you do have to pay taxes, and if you break the law, you can be arrested.

Humans do not function well in anarchy, and, through the years, a great many customs have developed to make the Net a tolerable place. The most important custom is that you are responsible for your own actions. You are not responsible for the actions of other people. If you disagree with what someone is doing, ignore it; if you don't like certain people, avoid them; and if you are bothered by the information or pictures someone has put on a Web site, don't look at them.

This isn't as harsh as it sounds. The Net is used by millions of people from many different cultures, and there is no possible way to devise laws — or even guidelines — that would be acceptable to everyone. From the beginning, the custom has been to live and let live, and, as a result, the Net has become our primary vehicle for free speech and dissemination of information.

When you first start using the Net, this may bother you. I guarantee that, with only a little effort, you will be able to find a great deal of material that will offend you. For example, no matter what beliefs you hold sacred, there are Web sites accessible to anyone in the world that ridicule and criticize your beliefs, and there's not much you can do about it.

Let's take an example. In the United States, there are many people who are offended by the fact that there is pornography on the Net. If you are such a person, I understand how you feel (although I don't agree with you). In the U.S., this issue is aggravated by the fact that Americans (as compared to, say, Europeans) are particularly troubled by displays of sexuality and naked bodies.

Thus, many people are bothered by the fact that anyone with an Internet connection can access pictures of all the naked bodies he or she wants. Will this not corrupt our youth, they ask? Do we not have an obligation to protect the moral fiber of our nation and teach enduring values to our children?

The answer is, yes, we do have those obligations, but the way to fulfill them is not by censorship — not on the Net, anyway. The Internet is important to everyone, and to restrict access to anyone because of the fear of what he or she will see or do is not only a bad idea, it is shortsighted.

The Internet is still a new part of our culture and, as such, it demands a new approach to how we think about the rest of the world. We need to teach our children — and ourselves — how to understand and use this wonderful communication and information system. In particular, we need to develop our judgment, our tolerance and our self- control.

I don't mean to preach —well[el] yes, I do, but I care about you, and I know what I am talking about, so listen to what I have to say.

Judgment: Just because you read something on the Net doesn't mean you should believe it. Before you accept anything as fact, ask yourself, "Does it make sense? Is it likely to be true?" Do your own research; ask tough questions and look for corroboration. On the Internet, you must be extra careful not to pay too much attention to appearances: some of the most despicable organizations have the most beautiful Web sites. You must learn to judge information on its own merits, and you must be skeptical of anything that doesn't look right.

Tolerance: No matter what you believe, there are many, many people in the world who disagree, and a lot of them are on the Net. Don't let it get to you. If you really don't want to look at something, you don't have to look; if you really don't want to hear something, you don't have to listen. However, it isn't inherently bad to read or listen to things that are antithetical to what you believe. Tolerance not only makes you easier to get along with, it can open doors you didn't even know existed. The Internet is a safe place to explore ideas that are strange to you, and to meet people with different values. If you give the Net a chance, it will bring out the best in you.

Self-control: Not everything on the Net is good for you. In fact, there is probably a lot that is bad for you. The Internet is a wonderful source of stimulation, but there are times when we all need to exercise self-control. For example, there are various games and activities that can become addictive, especially for certain types of people. This is important for children to learn as they use the Net. If you are a parent, there are computer programs you can use to limit what your kids can and cannot look at, but no program is perfect. Nothing can take the place of a parent who takes the time to teach his or her children what is right and what is wrong. I think you'll find that the best way to teach is by setting a good example.

So what about all the pornography? The Internet has shown us that looking at pictures of naked men and women has an enormous universal appeal, and that's not going to change. Moreover, pornography isn't the only thing to worry about: the Net has its share of dishonest people, misleading information, harmful activities, and ways to waste your money. Should we be concerned?

Of course we should, but on the Net, censoring the activities of other people doesn't work. What does work is to spend some time and effort developing your judgment, tolerance and self-control. In my book, anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something. (This is my book.)

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