The National e-Commerce Extension Initiative
Southern Rural Development Center
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  menu_item The Internet and the

  menu_item The Internet as a
      Communications Tool

  menu_item Business Planning and
      Market Research on the

  menu_item e-Commerce
  menu_item Developing and
      Maintaining Your Own

  menu_item Promoting Your Website
  menu_item Course Review
  menu_item Glossary


ASP – ASP is short for Microsoft Active Server Pages.  It's a language used to program server-side logic into a web page. In other words, the programming code is executed on the server and typically makes changes to the web page before it leaves the server on the way to the client/user. For example, if you'd like to put the current date and time on you web page, or display information from a database.

Asynchronous communication – The term asynchronous is usually used to describe communications in which data can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream. For example, an on-line discussion board is asynchronous because members can leave a question at some point and others can respond when it is convenient.

Attachment - In e-mail, an attachment is a computer file that is transmitted with an e-mail message, such as a text or picture file.

Audio – Audio is a form of multimedia that allows viewers to hear information, rather than having to read it. While an audio message may be accompanied by a digital video, it can also stand alone.

Banner Advertisement – A banner ad is typically a rectangular advertisement placed on a Web site either above, below or on the sides of the Web site's main content and is linked to the advertiser's own Web site. In the early days of the Internet, banners were ads with text and graphic images. Today, with technologies such as Flash, banners have gotten much more complex and can be ads with text, animated graphics and sound. Most commerce-related Web sites use banner ads.

Blog - Short for Web log, a blog is a Web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

Capture - To capture is to save a particular state of a program. It often refers to saving the information currently displayed on a display screen. You can capture the screen to a printer or to a file. The act of saving a display screen is called a screen capture . A video capture refers to storing video images in a computer .

Certified organic - To be labeled organic, all fresh or processed foods sold in the United States, including imports, must be produced according to the national organic standards and certified by an inspection agency accredited by the USDA. Before their crops can be certified, all organic farmers must use only approved materials. They must develop an organic farm management plan, keep detailed records, and be inspected annually by an accredited certification agency. All companies that manufacture organic food products must follow similar strict requirements.

Chat - A form of real-time electronic communications where participants type what they want to say, and it is repeated on the screens of all other participants in the same chat.

Chat room - A chat room is a virtual room where a chat session takes place. Technically, a chat room is really a channel, but the term room is used to promote the chat metaphor.

Click-through - The process of a visitor clicking on a Web advertisement and going to the advertiser's Web site. Also called ad clicks or requests. The click rate measures the amount of times an ad is clicked versus the amount of times it's viewed.

Code – Code, simply put is written instructions. It can appear in a variety of forms. The code that a programmer writes is called source code . After it has been compiled, it is called object code . Code that is ready to run is called executable code or machine code .

Community supported agriculture (CSA) - A community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or figuratively, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Members or shareholders of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's produce throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land. Members also share in risks, including poor harvest due to unfavorable weather or pests.

Content - Generally, the information provided on a web page, as opposed to its design and layout. Content can take the form of text, graphics, audio, video, or a searchable database.

Cookie - A cookie is data sent to your computer by a Web server. It's often used to store preferences related to a website. When you visit the site after receiving the cookie, the site will load certain pages and/or content according to the information stored in the cookie. For example, some sites can remember information like your user name and password, so you don't have to re-enter it each time you visit the site. Cookies are what allow you to have personalized web sites like "My Excite" or "My Yahoo," where you can customize what is displayed on the page.

Data - Distinct pieces of information, usually formatted in a special way. All software is divided into two general categories: data and programs . Programs are collections of instructions for manipulating data. Data can exist in a variety of forms -- as numbers or text on pieces of paper, as bits and bytes stored in electronic memory, or as facts stored in a person's mind.

Database - This is a data structure used to store organized information. A database is typically made up of many linked tables of rows and columns. For example, a company might use a database to store information about their products, their employees, and financial information. Databases are now also used in nearly all e-commerce sites to store product inventory and customer information. Database software, such as Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro, and MySQL is designed to help companies and individuals organize large amounts of information in a way that the data can be easily searched, sorted, and updated.

Design – The creation of the layout of a website. Most pages in a website follow the same layout design and will just change the data on each page.

Dial-up modem - A modem is a device that enables a computer to transmit data over, for example, telephone or cable lines. Computer information is stored digitally, whereas information transmitted over telephone lines is transmitted in the form of analog waves. A modem converts between these two forms. Dial-up modems utilize traditional copper phone lines to transmit analog signals. Out of all types of modems -- dial-up, ISDN, DSL, cable -- dial-up connections offer the slowest transmission speeds.

Digital video – A type of video recording system that works by using a digital, rather than analog, representation of the video signal. This generic term is not to be confused with the name DV , which is a specific type of digital video. Digital video is most often recorded on tape and then distributed on optical discs, usually DVDs. There are exceptions, such as camcorders that record directly to DVDs, and Digital8 camcorders which encode digital video on conventional analog tapes.

Discussion group – A facility on the Web that supports interactive discussions by users. Participants access the discussion group through their Internet browser. Discussion groups typically revolve around topics such as sport, medicine, politics, etc. Users submit topics or responses by entering text in a form.

Domain name - This is the name that identifies a Web site. For example, "" is the domain name of Rod Hissong's business website.

Download - This is the process in which data is sent to your computer. Whenever you receive information from the Internet, you are downloading it to your computer. For example, you might have to download software to run a Flash application on a website. Or you might download a demo version of a program you are thinking about buying from the software company's Web site. The opposite of this process, sending information to another computer, is called uploading.

e-commerce - E-commerce (electronic-commerce) refers to business over the Internet. Web sites such as,, and eBay are all e-commerce sites. The two major forms of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B). This book has focused primarily on B2C applications. While companies like cater mostly to consumers, other companies provide goods and services exclusively to other businesses. The terms "e-business" and "e-tailing" are often used synonymously with e-commerce.

e-mail - Electronic mail , abbreviated e-mail or email , is a method of composing, sending, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems.

e-newsletter - An electronic newsletter, published on-line, often distributed through e-mail to a list of subscribers.

e-Store - An on-line shopping facility in which purchases can be made via a secure site using a credit card for merchandise.

File - A file is a collection of data stored in one unit, under a filename. This can be a document, a picture, an audio or video file, a library, an application, or other collection of data. Documents include text files, such as a Word documents, RTF (Rich Text Format) documents, PDFs, Web pages, and others. Pictures include JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, and layered image files, such as Photoshop documents (PSDs). Audio files include MP3s, AACs, WAVs, AIFs, and several others. Video files can be MPEG, MOV, WMV, or DV files, just to name a few.

Filter – As referred to in this text, a mail filter. A mail filter is a piece of software that evaluates an e-mail message. It has the ability to pass the message through unchanged for delivery to the user's mailbox, it might deliver the message elsewhere, or it might even throw the message away.

Flow chart - A pictorial summary that shows with symbols and words the steps, sequence, and relationship of the various operations involved in the performance of a function or a process.

Form - A formatted document containing blank fields that users can fill in with data. The form appears on the user's display screen and the user fills it in by selecting options with a pointing device or typing in text from the computer keyboard. The data are then sent directly to a server for processing.

Frequently asked question (FAQ) - Can be pronounced "fak" or simply "F-A-Q." An FAQ is an area of a Web site that is created to answer common questions a user may have about a certain software program or that a newcomer to a Web site might have regarding the site. Web sites will often refer visitors to an FAQ before asking them to e-mail their questions, which helps cut down on support needs. While FAQs are common for software programs and Web sites, FAQs can be written for other topics such as company information, or production practices.

Hardware - Refers to whole and/or components of computers that you can actually touch, like disks, disk drives, display screens, keyboards, printers, boards, and chips. In contrast, software is untouchable. Software exists as ideas, concepts, and symbols, but it has no substance.

Hit – A hit is a request for a file from a web server. Hits are usually used to measure web site accesses.

Host - This is a computer that acts as a server for other computers on a network. It can be a Web server, an e-mail server, an FTP server, etc. For example, a Web server is what provides the content of Web pages to the computers that access it.

HTML - Stands for "Hyper-Text Markup Language." This is the language that Web pages are written in. Also known as hypertext documents, Web pages must conform to the rules of HTML in order to be displayed correctly in a Web browser. The HTML syntax is based on a list of tags that describe the page's format and what is displayed on the Web page. HTML language is relatively easy to learn. However, many Web development programs allow you to create Web pages using a graphical interface. These programs allow you to place objects and text on the page and the HTML code is written for you.

Instant message - Abbreviated IM , a type of communications service that enables you to create a kind of private chat room with another individual in order to communicate in real time over the Internet, analogous to a telephone conversation but using text-based, not voice-based, communication.

Internet - The publicly accessible worldwide system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using a standardized Internet Protocol (IP). It is made up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic, domestic, and government networks. It carries various information and services, such as electronic mail, on-line chat, and the interlinked Web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.

The terms “Internet” and “World Wide Web” are not synonymous. The Internet consists of interconnected computer networks, linked by wires, cables, etc. The Web is a collection of connected documents, linked by hyperlinks and URLs, and is accessible using the Internet.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) - ISPs are organizations that offer access to the Internet, typically fee-based. If you use a dial-up modem to connect to your ISP, a point-to-point protocol (PPP) connection is established with another modem on the ISP's end. That modem connects to one of the ISP's routers, which routes you to the Internet "backbone." From there, you can access information from anywhere around the world. DSL and cable modems work the same way, except after you connect the first time, you are always connected.

Keyword - A word or series of words use to perform an Internet search; typically found in or related to the content you are searching for. Keywords are part of the metadata, or the information found in the Meta tags, for the document.

Kilobyte - A kilobyte is a unit of information or computer storage. A kilobyte is measured as either 1,024 bytes (2^ 10 ), or 1,000 bytes (10^ 3 ) and symbolized by KB. 1,024 kilobytes equal one megabyte (MB); 1,024 megabytes equal one gigabyte (GB), and so on.

Most small files on your computer are measured in kilobytes. For example, thumbnail images might use only 5 to 10KB of space. A larger 900x600 pixel JPEG image can take up to 250KB of space or more. Text files are often less than 1KB. Most documents you save on your computer should be between 1 and 1,024KB. Anything larger than 1,024KB is measured in megabytes.

Link – Hyperlink as referred to in this text. Links are similar to citations in literature. When you are browsing the Web and you see a highlighted and underlined word or phrase on a page, there is a good chance you are looking at a link. By clicking on a link, you can "jump" to a new Web page or a completely different Web site. While text links are typically blue and underlined, they can be any color and don't have to be underlined. Images can also serve as links to other Web pages. When you move the cursor over a link in a Web page, the arrow will turn into a little hand, letting you know that it is a link. The term "hypertext" comes from the way links can quickly send you to another Web destination.

List Manager – A software program that allows you to create lists of email recipients to facilitate sending out mass emails. Using a list manager, sending an email to the list requires only that you send to one address. In turn, the message is then sent to all list members.

Log – A log is typically used to record the activity on a web site. A log analyzer can then use that information to report your web site activity.

Maintenance – Changes, additions, or deletions to the information on a website that could include fixing problems with broken links, and other mistakes on a website, as well as just updating information/content. Maintenance may also include the backup of data.

Megabyte (MB) – A unit of information or computer storage equal to one million bytes (10^ 6 ). A megabyte is 1,024 kilobytes and precedes the gigabyte unit of measurement. A Large computer files are typically measured in megabytes. For example, a high-quality JPEG photo from a 6.3 megapixel digital camera takes up about 3MB of space. A four minute CD-quality audio clip takes up about 40MB of space and CDs can hold up to 700MB of space.

Meta tag - This is a special HTML tag that is used to store information about a Web page but is not displayed in a Web browser. For example, meta tags provide information such as what program was used to create the page, a description of the page, and keywords that are relevant to the page. Many search engines use the information stored in meta tags when they index Web pages.

Multimedia - Multimedia is the integration of multiple forms of media. This includes text, graphics, audio, video, etc. For example, a presentation involving audio and video clips would be considered a "multimedia presentation." Educational software that involves animations, sound, and text is called "multimedia software." CDs and DVDs are often considered to be "multimedia formats" since they can store a lot of data and most forms of multimedia require a lot of disk space.

Netiquette - Netiquette, or net etiquette, refers to etiquette on the Internet. Good netiquette involves respecting others' privacy and not doing anything on-line that will annoy or frustrate other people. Three areas where good netiquette is highly stressed are e-mail, on-line chat, and newsgroups. For example, people that spam other users with unwanted e-mails or flood them with messages have very bad netiquette. You don't want to be one of those people. If you're new to a newsgroup or on-line chat room, it may help to observe how people communicate with each other before jumping in.

On-line - The term "on-line" usually means being connected to the Internet. The connection can be through a dial-up, DSL modem, or cable modem, or through a wireless connection. A computer can also be on-line via a connection to a computer network. Technically, computers that are on a network are on-line even if they are not connected to the Internet. When a computer or other device is not on-line, it is said to be offline.

On-line auction - Participants bid for products and services over the Internet. eBay is an example of an on-line auction site.

On-line mall – An on-line resource at which multiple stores can be found within the same website.

PHP - Stands for "Hypertext Preprocessor." It is the same type of technology as ASP. PHP is an HTML-embedded Web scripting language. This means PHP code can be inserted into the HTML code of a Web page. When a PHP page is accessed, the PHP code is read or "parsed" by the server the page resides on. The output from the PHP functions on the page are typically returned as HTML code, which can be read by the browser. Because the PHP code is transformed into HTML before the page is loaded, users cannot view the PHP code on a page. This makes PHP pages secure enough to access databases and other secure information. The goal of the language is to allow Web developers to write dynamically generated pages quickly and easily. PHP is also great for creating database-driven Web sites.

Search Engine - Google, Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, Infoseek, and Yahoo are all search engines. They index millions of sites on the Web, so that Web surfers can easily find Web sites with the information they want. By creating indexes, or large databases of Web sites (based on titles, keywords, and the text in the pages), search engines can locate relevant Web sites when users enter search terms or phrases.

Searching - The task of using a search engine to look for information regarding a topic. When you are looking for something using a search engine, it is a good idea to use words like AND, OR, and NOT to specify your search. Using these boolean operators, you can usually get a list of more relevant sites.

Secure - A Web site that supports any of the major security protocols to protect against third party tampering.

Shopping Cart - A piece of software that acts as an on-line store's catalog and ordering process. Typically, a shopping cart is the interface between a company's Web site and its deeper infrastructure, allowing consumers to select merchandise; review what they have selected; make necessary modifications or additions; and purchase the merchandise.

Signature - The automatic addition of a few lines at the foot of an E-mail. These usually consist of the sender's E-mail address, full name and other details.

Snail Mail - Normal postal mail, where an actual physical letter or package is delivered.

Software - Computer instructions used to process data. Not to be confused with hardware, the physical components of a computer.

Spam - Refers to junk e-mail or irrelevant postings to a newsgroup or bulletin board. The unsolicited e-mail messages you receive about refinancing your home, reversing aging, and losing those extra pounds are all considered to be spam. Spamming other people is poor etiquette.

Storyboard - A series of diagrams that show how a project will look when completed.

Streaming - Data streaming, commonly seen in the forms of audio and video streaming, is when a multimedia file can be played back without being completely downloaded first. Most files, like shareware and software updates that you download off the Internet, are not streaming data. However, certain audio and video files like Real Audio and QuickTime can be streaming files. With a fast Internet connection, you can usually stream live audio or video to your computer as fast or faster than you can listen or watch the content.

Thumbnail - A miniature display of a page to be printed. Thumbnails enable you to see the layout of many pages on the screen at once.

URL - Stands for "Uniform Resource Locator." It is the address of a specific Web site or file on the Internet. A URL cannot have spaces or certain other characters and uses forward slashes to denote different directories. Some examples of URLs are,, and As you can see, not all URLs begin with "http". The first part of a URL indicates what kind of resource it is addressing. The second part of a URL (after the "://") contains the address of the computer being located as well as the path to the file. For example, in "," "" is the address or domain name of the host computer and "/Content/Reports/index.html" is the path to the file. When an address ends with a slash and not something like ".html" or ".php," the Web server typically defaults to a file in the current directory named "index.html" or "index.php." So, if you type in "" and "," you should get the same page.

V-card – An electronic business card.

Video - Refers to the recording, manipulating, and displaying of moving images, especially in a format that can be presented on a television or computer monitor.

View - A Web page that has been viewed by one visitor. Page views are often used in on-line advertising, where advertisers use the number of page views a site receives to determine where and how to advertise.

Virus - A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes.

Visit – A series of requests from the same uniquely identified client with a set timeout. A visit is expected to contain multiple hits (in log analysis) and page views.

Web browser – A software application used to locate and display Web pages. Popular browsers are Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox. These are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text. In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video, though they require plug-ins for some formats.

Webcam - A video camera, usually attached directly to a computer, whose current or latest image can be requested from a Web site. A live cam is one that is continually providing new images that are transmitted in rapid succession or, in some cases, in streaming video.

Web page - Web pages are what make up the World Wide Web. These documents are written in HTML (hypertext markup language) and are translated by your Web browser. Web pages can either be static or dynamic. Static pages show the same content each time they are viewed. Dynamic pages have content that can change each time they are accessed. These pages are typically written in scripting languages such as PHP, Perl, ASP, or JSP. The scripts in the pages run functions on the server that return things like the date and time, and database information. All the information is returned as HTML code, so when the page gets to your browser, all the browser has to do is translate the HTML.

Website - A website, or Web site, is not the same thing as a Web page. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they should not be. A Web site is a collection of Web pages. For example, is a Web site, but there are thousands of Web pages that make up the Web site.

World Wide Web (WWW) - It is important to know that this is not a synonym for the Internet. The World Wide Web, or just "the Web" as people sometimes call it, is a subset of the Internet. The Web consists of pages that can be accessed using a Web browser. The Internet is the actual network of networks where all the information resides. Things like Telnet, FTP, Internet gaming, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and e-mail are all part of the Internet, but are not part of the World Wide Web. The Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the method used to transfer Web pages to your computer. With hypertext, a word or phrase can contain a link to another Web page on the same or different Web site. Most Web pages are written in the hyper-text markup language (HTML), which works in conjunction with HTTP.

Note: For assistance with terms not used in this curriculum and for new terms that emerge, perform an Internet search for the term or you can check this website:


Web site and all contents © Copyright SRDC 2009, All rights reserved.
CSREES These materials were developed as part of the Southern Rural Development Center’s National e-Commerce Extension Initiative. They are based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Award No. 2005-45064-03212

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Southern Rural Development Center.

For Questions or Comments, contact Shannon Turner.