The Internet is a global super network, which links thousands of computers in order to get information. The Internet has become a popular means of getting information all over the world. There are also social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, through which current information about individuals and organisations can be got.
The Internet contains any imaginable kind of information. However, some people have taken this to mean that the Internet is a replacement of traditional library resources, particularly, hard copies of materials. The Internet can never replace the traditional library. Lucas (2002:119-120) captures it succinctly thus:
Printed materials in libraries are superior to the Internet in many ways. Take books, for example. The Internet has a relatively small number of books, most of them literary classics whose copyrights have expired; the novels of Jane Austen, the plays of William Shakespeare … Librarie s, in contrast, have thousands of books, including expensive reference works that are not on the Internet. Books offer greater depth and elaboration than you can find on the Internet.
The Internet also lags behind libraries in the availability of articles, while it is true that many newspaper and journal articles are available on the internet, most publications do not place all of their printed material on the Internet. To do so might put them out of business.
Besides, do not think that once you have a personal computer and Internet access, you do not need the electronic services of a library. This is because there are some electronic materials that only libraries could get under terms of contract. Only library users are allowed to use such through an access code (Lucas, 2002:120).
Basic Steps for Accessing the Internet
To access the Internet, take the following steps.
- Connect to the Internet.
- Click on the “Open” button and type in an address, the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). When typing the URL, you do not need to add spaces. You should not use capital letters if they are not part of the address. An example is the website of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) – nou.edu.ng (old) or www.noun.edu.ng (new).
- If you do not know the address, use a search engine. This allows
you search for keywords on web pages throughout the world. The results it displays are called hits. Click on one of the hits to get transported to it. Most sites offer basic and “ refined”/” advanced” searches. In the former, you just enter a keyword without sifting through any pull down menus of additional options. The latter allows search on more than one word, to give more weight to one search term than another, and to exclude words that are likely to make the results muddy. It also allows searching proper names, phrases and words that are close to other search terms. Examples of search engines are:
- Google (http://www.google.com)
- Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com)
- Google scholar (http://www.googlescholar.com)
- Looksmart (http://www.looksmart.com)
- Ask Jeeves (http://www.askjeeves.com)
- Webcrawler (http://www.webcrawler.com)
- Excite (http://www.excite.com)
- Atla Vista (http://www.altavista.com)
- InfoSeek (http://www.infoseek.go.com)
- com (http://www.about.com)
- Northern Light (http://www.northernlight.com)
- FastSearch (http://www.alltheweb.com)
- HotBot (http://www.hotbot.com)
- (cf. Gregory 2002:125; Ola 2009:178; Ojo 2010:29)
There also metasearch engines. These search engines send a researcher’s request to several search engines at the same time
- Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com)
- Inference Find (http://www.infind.com)
- InvisibleWeb (http://www.invisibleweb.com)
- lxquick Metasearch (http://www.lxquick.com)
- MetaCrawler (metacrawler.com)
- SavySearch (savyserach.com)
- ProfuFusion (http://www.profusion.com) Cyber 411(http://www.cyber411.com)
(cf. Lucas, 2002: 138)
- To visit sites of related interest, look for hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are always underlined and sometime printed in a colour that is different from that of the surrounding text.
- To return to Web pages that you have just visited, click on the “Back” button at the top of your screen. Click on t he “Forward” button to move to the Web page visited before you clicked the “Back” button.
- To create a permanent list of sites that you like and may want to visit again bookmark To do this, go to the “Bookmarks” or “Favourites” menu at the top of your screen and click on add Bookmark (or Add to favourites).
- Choose “Print to File” under the print menu do down load pages onto a hard drive or a flash drive. If it is graphic, click on it and choose “Save as …”from the file menu (Gregory 2002:120-121).
Some Other Sites
Expert sites: An expert site is a website that offers expertise on requested topics.
- Ask Me Com (askme.com)
- Abuzz (abuzz.com)
- Yahoo (yahoo.com) (Gregory 2002:124).
This is a message centre for people that have a common interest.
- Google Groups (googlegroups.com)
- Yahoo! Groups (yahoogroups.com) (Gregory 2002:124).
The Invisible Web
The invisible web is the part of the Internet that search engines could not reach. This includes specialized resources, for example immigration law, and collection of full-text articles. Some of the addresses that could be used to access these resources include.
- Libraries index to the internet (created by librarians at the University of California. (lii.org)
- Internet Public Library (Operated at the University of Michigan (i.pl.org/ref)
- Virtual library – a catalogue run by volunteers in areas such asscience and engineering (www.vlib.org). (Gregory, 2002:125, 128)
A virtual library is “a search engine which combines Internet technology with traditional library methods of cataloguing and accessing data” (Lucas, 2002:138).
- Librarian’s Index to the Internet ( http://lii.org)
- Infomine (http://infomine.ucr.edu)
- ArgusClearinghouse (http://www.clearinghouse.)
- Internet Public Library (http://www.ipl.org)
- Social Science Information Gateway (http://www.soisg.ac.uk)
- com (http://www.britannica.com)
- Virtual library (vlib.org)
Evaluating Internet Resources
It is advisable to evaluate the Internet resources as some of them could contain inaccurate information. Crosscheck the material you find with some other reliable sources.
There are some websites designed to be intentionally misleading. However, there are also some websites addressing the issue of misleading information. Examples given by Ojo (2010:31-32) include:
- Snopes – the best source for factual information ab out rumours
- Hoax-slayer – email hoaxes and current Internet sca ms
- Urban Legend and Folklore
- Truth or Fiction – for checking email before sendin g it out
- Straight Dope – focuses on fighting ignorance.
In order to evaluate the information from the web, Ojo (2010:32-33) suggests checking the information for the listed characteristics.
Try to find out the credibility of the author. Determine whether the author is stating his/her opinion or a fact. You may not take seriously an author that does not recognise the opinion of others.
Check if the information contained is prejudiced. Find out if the sponsorship influences the perspective of the information, because some sites promote only the interest of their sponsors.
You should find out the origin of the information. Part of what to do here is to see if the information has been reviewed, and if original sources are documented. Also, check if the site is a primary or secondary source of information.
The reliability of the information could be determined by finding out the sponsors of the publication, a school, business, company, government agency and so on.
This has to do with how current the information is. To do this, find out the date the information was published and the recency of the sources cited.
Ask if the information contained in it is relevant to your need.
Ask yourself if the information is quick to access and if it is well organised.
In all, you should separate scholarship from propaganda. The two are completely different and serve different ends. The major differences between them, as identified by Ojo (2010:36), are examined below.
- Scholarship describes limits of research data, while propaganda claims certainty excessively.
- While scholarship presents accurate description of alternative viewpoints, propaganda relies on personal attacks and ridicule.
- Scholarship encourages debate, discussion and criticism, whereas propaganda uses inflammatory language.
- Propaganda devalues critical appraisal but scholarship encourages it.
- Propaganda transforms words and statistics to suit purpose, while scholarship admits ignorance.
- Scholarship uses generally accepted parameters for evaluating data, while propaganda suppresses contrary views.
- Scholarship seeks counter-examples but propaganda appeals to popular prejudices.
- While scholarship relies on critical thinking skills, propaganda presents information out of context.
As a good speechwriter, strive to be scholarly in your presentation. This earns you the respect of your audience.
3.3.1 Evaluating Website Sponsor
You can also evaluate Internet resources by browsing on the integrity of the website sponsor. You can do this by clicking on “About” link. If everything else fails, go to Allwhois.com (www.allwhois.com); type in the URL but do not include ‘www’. The name, address and phone number of the person or organisation that registered the Website will be found (Lucas, 2002: 138).
Determining Objectivity and Motivation of Domains
You can determine the objectivity and motivation of a domain by checking the domain name. A domain is a group of computers on a network that operates under common rules. The suffix at the end of the name shows the “top-level domain,” which indicates the owner of the address. Commercial web pages (.com) appear to be the least object domain. However, this does not mean that all.com addresses are unreliable. Other domains are:
- .org-non-profit organisation
- .edu-education and research institutions
Source:National Open University of Nigeria