GLOSSARY OF ICT TERMS
Email, chat rooms, world wide web, ISPs, cookies, modems – what does it all mean?? The biggest
problem with ICT and the internet is understanding the jargon. Here are some of the
terminology you’re more likely to come across but now explained in plain English.
- Microsoft concept that allows a program to run inside a web page. Expected to become a
- Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line. High speed copper wire connections at up to 6 Mbps
downstream and 640 Kbps up.
AMERICAN STANDARD CODE FOR INFORMATION INTERCHANGE (ASCII)
- the code that computers use to represent characters as numbers which makes it possible to
transfer data from one computer to another. The principle is similar to Morse code which uses
dots and dashes to transmit messages.
- an image that moves like a cartoon on your computer screen.
- name given to a website that hasn’t been updated for ages (as in “Orphan Annie”)
ANONYMOUS FTP SERVER
- a remote computer, with a publicly accessible file archive, that accepts ‘anonymous’ as the log-
in name and an email address as the password.
- America Online. Presently the world’s most populous Online Service.
- a small software program that performs a simple task, like a calculator.
- any software program that you use on your computer to perform a task such as writing letters.
Applications on your computer are like CDs on your CD player.
- a US military network of computers from the early 1970s that gave rise to the internet.
- see AMERICAN STANDARD CODE FOR INFORMATION INTERCHANGE
- a file that you attach to an email message.
- similar to VIDEOCONFERENCE except you only hear (don’t see) the person(s) you’re
- set of paths that carry longhaul Net traffic.
- how much data you can send through a connection, usually measured in bits per second.
Bandwidth affects the time you wait for a website to appear on your screen.
- ubiquitous signboard, usually a strip at the top of a web page, that is used for advertising.
- commonly used to describe the number of bits of information that a modem transmits: 500
baud means 500 bits per second (bps).
- an early personal computer used in the 1980s for the BBC’s educational programmes on
- Bulletin Board System. A computer system accessible by modem. Members can dial in and
leave messages, send email, play games, and trade files with other users.
- all non-plain text files are binaries, including programs, word-processor documents, images,
sound clips, and compressed files.
- method of encoding, commonly used by Macs.
- the smallest unit of computer data, equivalent to either a 1 or a zero.
- any picture you see on the web. Bitmap refers to the map of bits on the page that make up the
BITS PER SECOND (BPS)
- a measure of how fast data is transmitted by a circuit.
- adding a website address to your online address book. Like dialling a telephone number from
your address book, it’s easy to look up a website you have bookmarked. Bookmarking a website
means you probably want to visit it again. Bookmarks are Netscape’s name – Microsoft’s browser
calls them Favourites.
- words like AND, OR and NOT that help you pinpoint the information you want to retrieve from
the internet. (e.g. searching for information on seat belts would return websites on chairs and
fashion accessories. Searching for seat AND belts would narrow the search to safety belts in
- to start a computer.
- email returned to sender.
- see BITS PER SECOND
- high-speed internet access.
- a software program that lets you look at various internet resources, especially websites. A
browser lets you move from on web page to another using hyperlinks.
- some internet service providers will tell you when friends or family are online at the same time
as you. These are your buddies.
- equals 8 bits. One byte is smaller than a word and generally represents one character.
- a place on your computer that stores information that you may need again. It is the reason
why it is a lot faster to go back to a website than to view it the first time. You only download a
site on your first visit – when you go back your computer retrieves it from your cache.
- awful name I-GEAR gives to a group of objects (whether it’s a group of students, computers,
- stream of data that’s “pushed” onto your computer desktop or browser window.
- a live conversation with any number of other people anywhere in the world. You ‘talk’ by typing
and reading messages. Everyone sees your message and you can read everyone else’s messages.
Chat happens in virtual chat rooms that generally have a theme (e.g. homework, kayaking)
- a computer that requests material from the World Wide Web. When you view a website, your
computer – the client – has requested it from another computer that is called a server.
- a system for representing one set of things with another (e.g. Morse code). Computers convert
information into code to transfer it to other computers.
- a method of fitting information into less space so that when you send it from one computer to
another it travels faster – like packing away a tent before you put it in the car to take it home.
- information of value or interest on a web page, as opposed to advertising or graphics that are
purely window-dressing. A web page with lots of advertising and gimmicky graphics has low
- information stored on your computer when you visit a website that is useful if you return to
that site. (e.g. when a website says “Welcome Back” it has read a cookie that is stored on your
computer last time you visited the site. Think of cookies as stubs on raffle tickets. When you
buy a ticket, you keep the stub – the cookie – but it’s only of use if you go back after the draw to
see whether or not you’ve won).
COPY AND PASTE
- to make a copy of something on the screen and then insert (paste) it into another document.
When the computer copies something, it stores it on a clipboard.
- to break a program’s security, integrity, or registration system, or fake a user ID.
- what happens when your computer stops working and you have to switch off and start again.
- in IRC, may be short for cybersex, that is the online equivalent of phone sex.
- a term originating from “Neuromancer”, a novel by William Gibson, that refers to the world of
- information (as well as the name of the android in “Star Trek New Generations”!!!)
- a connection to the internet that your computer dials up using its modem and the telephone
line, so you are only connected when you dial up.
- encrypted data appended to a message to identify the sender.
- Domain Name System. The system that locates the numerical IP address corresponding to a
- the highest level name of a website. For example, the BBC’s domain name is bbc. A site does
not have to have its own domain name. Instead of registering a unique domain name with the
Internet Society, you can use another site to host your site by putting its domain name in your
website address. Think of it as being ‘care of’. Personal homepages are often hosted by another
site to save the author the expense of registering their own domain name.
- to transfer information to your computer from another computer.
DRAG AND DROP
- to pick something on a page by clicking on it, drag it by holding the button down on the mouse
and moving the cursor across the screen to somewhere else, and then drop it into place by
releasing the mouse button.
- small program that acts like a translator between a device and programs that use that device
(e.g. you might hear Andy mention the printer driver when connecting your PC to a printer).
- Digital Subscriber Line. Encompasses all forms including ADSL. Sometimes called xDSL.
- a message you send from your computer to another computer.
- the unique private internet address to which your email is sent. TRA’s email addresses take
the form of email@example.com if your name is Mickey Mouse.
- emotional icon. A way to put emotion into email messages by adding specially arranged
punctuation marks (e.g. :-) is a grin (tilt your head to the left); :-D is laughing; $-) is greedy;
0:-) is an Angel; @}-‘--,--- is a rose, etc). Emoticons make up for not being able to hear the
tone of someone’s voice or see their body language as you read their email message. Many people
think emoticons are useful as a freemason’s handshake until they see how easily
misunderstandings arise when people who don’t know each other talk over the internet. (NB a
few others, mostly Japanese anime-derived, work right way up: @^_^@ is blushing; ^_^; is
sweating; *^_^* is huge dazzling grin; and, T_T is major tears).
- a standard for connecting computers into a LOCAL AREA NETWORK (LAN).
- popular email program for Mac and PC.
- see FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION.
- the name used by Microsoft’s browser software program for bookmarks.
- anything stored on a computer, such as a program, image or document.
- a program that can return stored data on UNIX users or other information such as weather
updates. Often disabled for security reasons.
- software that sets up a security barrier around a company’s internal network, protecting it
from outside networks such as the internet.
- name of our email system in TRA.
- an insulting message, a series of which can escalate into the online equivalent of a brawl. This
is called a flame war. (NB be careful of using capital letters – THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT OF
SHOUTING IN CYBERSPACE!!!)
- like your filing cabinet, the storage space on your computer is divided into folders. Using
folders helps you keep information on your computer tidy.
- network gaming term meaning to destroy or fragment. Came from DOOM.
- sections on a web page that change independently of each other.
- software that you download from the internet which is free of charge.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION (FAQ)
- a question that new users ask frequently, so a bank of questions and answers is provided.
FAQs save computer companies and software manufacturers reinventing the wheel for all their
new customers and are well worth reading.
- File Transfer Protocol. Standard method of moving files across the internet.
- Graphic Image File. A type of graphics file commonly used on the internet.
- distance is measured in metres, data is measured in bytes. One gigabyte equals 1000
megabytes, or more accurately 1024 megabytes.
- defunct menu-based system for retrieving internet archives, usually organized by subject.
- Graphic User Interface. Method of driving software through the use of windows, icons, menus,
buttons, and other graphic devices.
- a commonly used term for a person with obsessive, meticulous programming skills who can pick
their way into any computer linked to the internet, legally or otherwize. Like the SAS you don’t
admit to being a hacker.
- a printed copy of a document, as distinct from the digital copy on your computer.
- the computer’s main storage area. It retains information when the computer is switched off.
- ‘physical’ ICT equipment (e.g. computer, printer, digital camera, etc)
- pre-data part of a packet, containing source and destination addresses, error checking, and
other fields. Also the first part of an email or news posting which contains, among other things,
the sender’s details and time sent.
- a visit to a website that is recorded by a counter. Hits can be misleading (e.g. a new hit may be
recorded for a web page tat has been reloaded).
- the opening page of a website that gives you an overview of the whole website. Because
websites can have hundreds of tangled pages, there is usually a link back to the homepage from
anywhere on the website.
- computer that offers some sort of services to networked users.
- another term for HYPERLINK
- an easy-to-spot word or phrase on a web page, usually underlined, that turns your mouse
pointer into a hand. Clicking on a hyperlink jumps you to somewhere else, either on that page or
on any other page on the web.
- the name given o text with HYPERLINKS.
HYPERTEXT MARK-UP LANGUAGE (HTML)
- the code used to write pages on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old fashioned
typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with ‘tags’ that indicate how it should
appear on screen. Importantly, HTML lets you specify that a block of text, or a word, is ‘linked’
to another file on the internet.
HYPERTEXT TRANSMISSION PROTOCOL (HTTP)
- the language computers use to transmit and receive files on the World Wide Web. You tell
your computer to use this language when you type http at the start of a website address.
- a small symbol, like a picture of a floppy disk or a printer, that you click on to access that
- name of our internet filtering software that protects our schools’ users from ‘inappropriate’
- a web image that contains multiple links. Which link you take depends on where you click. (e.g.
the plan of the Library Resource Centre on our intranet is an image map – where you click on it
determines which photos you can view).
- Internet Message Access Protocol. Standard email access protocol that’s superior to POP3 in
that you can selectively retrieve messages or parts thereof as well as manage folders on the
- a term used by Al Gore, Vice President of the US, to describe the impact of computer
networks on how we live.
INTEGRATED SERVICES DIGITAL NETWORK (ISDN)
- a faster way of moving information over standard telephone lines.
- the vast, global collection of interconnected computer networks that all use the same language
to talk to each other. The internet is not a single entity but a collection of networks.
INTERNET ACCESS PROVIDER (IAP)
- a provider that sells you a connection to the internet without additional services like its own
guide to education, news or sport.
- controversial web browser produced by Microsoft. (The main / most popular internet browser
INTERNET PROTOCAL (IP) NUMBER
- the unique number assigned to any computer on the internet. IP numbers have four parts,
separated by dots. (e.g. our proxy server has the IP number 192.168.15.4 as seen in the address
bar when you click on our ‘homepage’ on the intranet) Only computers use IP Numbers to
identify each other. We use a name, called a domain name, as a substitute for IP numbers
because we find names easier to remember.
INTERNET RELAY CHAT (IRC)
- a popular system for chat over the internet.
INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER (ISP)
- the company that sells you access to the internet. Your ISP has computers permanently linked
to the internet, and you link your computer to its network. ISPs are similar to telephone
companies. When you buy a phone you can’t make a call until you pay a telephone company to
connect your phone. An ISP does the same for your computer. As well as access, ISPs give you
space on the web for publishing and an email address. How you pay your ISP varies.
- a network of computers for a group of people, usually employees of a company, tat uses
internet technology such as email and browser software but which is not part of the internet.
- see INTEGRATED SERVICES DIGITAL NETWORK.
- a computer language that is used for writing programs for networks and the internet.
- a small Java program that works within a web page to add interactive features like forms,
ticker-tape text or a calculator.
- a type of graphics file commonly used on the internet (most commonly used for photos).
- a word you use to search the internet. For example, searching the web for the keyword
‘Lewinsky’ would find you lots of websites about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. Keywords can be
combined to refine your search.
- Newsreader file into which you can enter keywords and email addresses to stop unwanted
- distance is measured in metres, data is measured in bytes. One kilobyte equals 1000 bytes, or
to be precise, 1024 bytes.
- length of time it takes data to reach its destination.
- a telephone line that is rented for exclusive, 24 hour use from one location to another. High-
speed data connections require a leased line. A large company or university would probably
connect its computers to the internet over a leased line.
- in hypertext, as in a web page, a link is a reference to another document. When you click on a
link in a browser, that document will be retrieved and displayed, played or downloaded depending
on its nature.
- a freely distributed implementation of the UNIX operating system.
- the most popular program for handling discussion groups where messages are sent and arrive
by email. Email discussion groups, called MAILISTS, are usually more professional than
LOCAL AREA NETWORK (LAN)
- a computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor in a
LOGIN / LOG ON
- as a noun, login refers to the name, often your own, that you type in to access the internet or a
website on it. Your login is not a secret like the PASSWORD you may have to enter as well. The
verb login means to enter a computer system.
- someone who prefers to read other people’s messages rather than posting their own views.
Discussion groups often have thousands of members but only a handful will regularly post
messages – the rest are the silent majority, lurking on the sideline. Lurking and reading FAQs
beforehand is good ‘nettiquette’ when you join a discussion group.
- similar to a NEWSGROUP, except that to see messages you subscribe to the list and messages
then arrive by email, rather than you going to a newsgroup to see what messages have been
posted. When you send and email to the list, everyone on the list receives it. A central
computer, usually set up by the owner of the list, handles all the processing. Like newsgroups,
mailists are very good for keeping in touch with people who share your interests.
- distance is measured in metres, data is measured in bytes. One megabyte equals 1 million
characters of text, or about as much as you need for a fat paperback book. A megabyte takes
about 4 seconds to transmit at 56, 000 bits per second.
a bar on a web page, usually across the top of the screen, that remains visible and gives you a
set of controls. Some buttons on the menu bar may open sub-menus, called pull-down menus,
that give you more options.
- hidden HTML information on a website to allow SPIDERS to pick up the gist of a website for
easier cataloguing for their search directory or search engine.
META SEARCH ENGINE
- extremely useful SEARCH ENGINE that searches several search engines at the one time (e.g.
- Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Standard adopted by the electronic music industry for
controlling devices such as soundcards and synthesizers. MIDI files contain synthesizer
instructions rather than recorded music.
- Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. Standard for the transfer of binary email
- an exact copy of a website, usually on a computer in a different location that allows a server to
meet heavy demand by answering requests from clients from the server site that is nearest to
- Modulator/DEModulator. The device that turns the computer’s digital signals into sound so it
can be transferred over the telephone line. In other words, just as we pick up the telephone to
talk to each other, a computer picks up a modem to talk to another computer over the telephone
- the practice of recording what someone clicks on when they visit your website.
- ICT equivalent of a ‘couch potato’!
- a compressed music format.
- a compressed video file format.
- collective noun for the ICT staff in TRA (i.e. Andy Wright, June McMillan, Nick Brennan and
- able to process multiple requests at once.
- host that translates domain names into IP addresses.
- the internet.
- shorthand in cyberspace (e.g. IMHO = In My Honest Opinion; BTW = By The Way; LOL –
Laughing Out Loud; OIC = Oh I see, etc)
- conventional code of conduct or behaviour in CYBERSPACE.
- name given to first time users of the internet (and/or ICT in general).
- the name for discussion groups on Usenet. Newsgroups are for discussion among people with
similar interests, not for news.
- the facility in a browser program that lets you read the bulletin boards that NEWSGROUPS
use for discussion.
- Network News Transfer Protocol. Standard for the exchange of Usenet articles across the
- any device connected to a network.
- the name given to a piece of data that travels over a network. Like homing pigeons, packets
know where they are going, as well as where they have come from.
- failure to transfer units of data between network nodes. A high percentage makes transfer
slow or impossible.
- a secret code that you need to access a secure system. Passwords usually have seven or more
characters. Combining your name and age – June 27 – makes a bad password. A better choice
would be a combination of letters and non-letters (e.g. J!2n7*e)
- temporary or interim add-on to fix or upgrade software.
- a computer that sits on your desk and is designed to be operated by one person at a time.
- person who hacks telephone systems.
- a program that sends an echo-like trace to test if a host is available.
- computer operating system, such as Mac OS, Windows, or Linux.
- a small piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Plug-ins are usually
free and can be downloaded off the internet. Popular plug-ins are RealAudio and Shockwave.
- Post Office Protocol. An email protocol that allows you to pick up your mail from anywhere on
the Net, even if you’re connected through someone else’s account.
- Points of Presence. An Access Provider’s range of local dial-in points.
- website that specializes in leading you to others.
- to send a message, either to a NEWSGROUP or by EMAIL.
- Point to Point Protocol. This allows your computer to join the internet via a modem. Each time
you log in, you’re allocated either a temporary or static IP address.
- a set of rules that all computers linked to a network must follow. Protocols act like the rules
you follow for posting a letter. You put a recipient’s address, a stamp and your address on letter
so that anyone in the system knows where to find what they need. Regardless of the underlying
language, the basic ‘protocols’ remain the same.
- sits between a client, such as a web browser, and a real server. They’re most often used to
improve performance by delivering stored pages like browser cache and to filter out undesirable
- technique where data appears to be sent by the host rather than requested by the client.
Email is a type of push.
- the name of the network security system that protects the PCs in our school.
- standard for streaming compressed audio over the internet.
- program that automates Net tasks such as collating search engine databases or automatically
responding in IRC. Also called a Bot.
- a computer or software program that decides how to route information between two or more
networks based on where the information is going.
- name given to online teenagers.
- a free service that helps you find the information you want. Directories divide the internet up
into subject areas, in the same way that libraries do. To find a book on how to play cricket you
would first go to non-fiction, then to sport and then to cricket. Search directories do the same
for websites. A popular search directory is Yahoo.
- a free service that lets you look for information by typing in a word, called a keyword, or
combination of words. The search engine then looks for websites that match your word and
prepares a list of what it has found. Some search engines look for website addresses that
match your word, others might look at headers or titles on the page or even search the full text.
Search engines tend to cover more of the internet than search directories but can retrieve
thousands of websites with lots of irrelevant material.
- a computer that holds material from the World Wide Web and can transfer it to another
computer when requested. When you vie a website, it has come from a server.
- software that you download from the internet that has a free trial period, after which you
send a payment, usually a very small amount, if you want to continue using it.
- personal footer that can be attached automatically to email and Usenet postings.
- Serial Line Internet Protocol. Protocol that allows a computer to join the internet via a modem
and requires that you have a pre-allocated fixed IP address configured in your TCP/IP setup.
Has almost completely been replaced by PPP.
- Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Internet protocol for transporting mail.
- non-‘physical’ ICT equipment (e.g. applications like Word, Excel, FirstClass)
- junk mail on the internet/email.
- a program that collects website addresses and catalogues them for use with a search directory
or search engine.
- delivered in real time instead of waiting for the whole file to arrive (e.g. RealAudio).
- a common Mac file compression format and program.
- to look around the internet.
- a leased line telephone connection to the internet that can transfer data much faster than an
ordinary phone line.
- the fastest connection, with enough capacity to transmit full-screen, full-motion video.
- see TRANSMISSION CONTROL PROTOCOL/INTERNET PROTOCOL
- telephone company.
- internet protocol that allows you to log on to a remote computer and act as a dumb terminal.
TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES
- Internet Explorer’s cache.
TRANSMISSION CONTROL PROTOCOL/INTERNET PROTOCOL (TCP/IP)
- the set of rules that a computer must use in order to connect to the internet.
- prank newsgroup posting intended to invoke an irate response.
UNIVERSAL RESOURCE LOCATOR (URL)
- the address of a website. Because it is universal, anyone can type it into their computer and
find your website.
- operating system used by most service providers and universities. So long as you stick to
graphic programs, you’ll never notice it.
- to transfer information from your computer to another computer. When you send an email you
- a worldwide system of noticeboards that you can read via the internet, using your browser
software. Anyone can post an article, called ‘news’, to a noticeboard. With millions of users
Usenet is an enormous decentralized information resource, divided into forums called
NEWSGROUPS, each with its own area of interest. Most newsgroups receive several thousand
articles a day. News is generally held only for a day or so after which it may be archived.
- name given to someone who ‘uses’ ICT.
- method of encoding binary files into text so that they can be attached to mail or posted to
Usenet. They must be Uudecoded to convert them back. Better mail and news programs do this
- rumoured or announced, but non-existent, software or hardware. Often used as a competitive
- using video to talk over the internet and see who you are talking to.
- software, usually pirated.
- short for WORLD WIDE WEB.
- designing and publishing web pages using HTML.
- a page written in HYPERTEXT MARK-UP LANGUAGE that you can view with your browser
- a collection of web pages.
- a camera linked to the web showing current or frequently updated pictures.
WIDE AREA NETWORK (WAN)
- a network of computers dispersed over a large area.
WORLD WIDE WEB (WWW) or WEB for short
- the colourful part of the internet that is easy to get around because, as its name suggests, all
the pages on the web are connected by links. The web is not the same as the internet, it’s a part
of it. If the internet is the road system that everything uses, the webs is the bus lane with the
colourful bits that are easy to jump on and off – but just because buses are easier to see it
doesn’t mean there isn’t any other traffic on the road, such as email.
- What You See Is What You Get. What you type is the way it comes out.
- PC file compression format that creates files with the extension .zip using PKZip or WinZip
software. Commonly used to reduce file size for transfer or storage on floppy disks.
- a file transfer protocol that, among other things, offers the advantage of being able to pick up
where you left off after transmission failure.
Still confused ...???
Then try the PC Webopedia http://www.webopedia.com/ What is? http://www.whatis.com/ and