Re: Web description; new changes to guide

Peter Lister, Cranfield Computer Centre (
Wed, 22 Sep 93 10:18:03 BST

I think the Internet != WWW problem arises from the fact that the
Internet *is* a world-wide web - it's an interconnected web of networks
covering the world. World-Wide Web (the proper name) describes the
information and protocols for our favourite hypertext system.
Similarly, USENET news is a net that people use for news. The problem
is that the proper name, out of context, can be misunderstood to be a generic term.

Gopher is a proper name, but a gopher is a small furry mammal, or a
colloquial term for the office dogsbody. It's well understood by
non-netters to be a proper name for a particular service, because it
doesn't have a computer related generic definition. This probably has
something to do with it's popularity.

As for "PC" - does that refer to any small system used personally by
one person (and hence including most U**x workstations), or just the
IBM compatibles? Again, the popularity of MS-DOS PCs may have some root
in the fact that many people mistakenly believe that the name for
particular architecture can be applied generically to everything.
Usually, this is not a problem with "Apple".

It would be useful if authors bore this in mind when writing
introductory guides. I think that many new users get so bombarded with
neologisms, that they just can't tell what is a proper name and what is
a generic term. Capitalisation is not much help, as many acronyms and
names have weird capitalisation (I remember a newspaper article a
couple of years ago bitterly complaining that PostScript was confusing
because the name had a capital S in the middle), and many people don't
pay enough attention to docs to appreciate the difference even if all
authors were rigorous about noting the difference.

Just my 2 roubles worth.

Peter Lister Email:
Computer Centre, Cranfield University Voice: +44 234 754200 ext 2828
Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL UK Fax: +44 234 750875
--- Almost (but not quite) entirely unlike tea ---