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Information Beyond the Web

Depending on the search service you use, you can search other areas of the Internet using your browser.

FTP archives

An FTP archive is a directory of files that can be downloaded to your computer.
The most common files include text, graphics, and software. You can also upload files from your computer to an FTP archive, making them accessible to others. One way to think of an FTP archive is as an electronic transfer station where people go to get files they want or to leave files they want others to have access to. You will see the ftp:// scheme at the start of every FTP archive site.
FTP archives can be a good source for shareware (software you pay for, but it is on the honor system) and freeware (free software).

Gopher sites

Gopher is a menu-based, text-information searching tool that gives users access to various kinds of databases, such as FTP archives, and allows them to view the information within them. Now that the Web is almost completely graphical, Gopher sites are not as popular as in the past.


Usenet (sometimes referred to as Newsgroups or discussion groups) is a massive network of articles. People can post responses and new ideas on a variety of subjects to a common area. You can then receive these postings by configuring the Usenet reader (or Newsreader) in your browser. Usenet postings (or articles) are broken down by categories that cover just about anything you can imagine, from groups discussing computer information to groups dedicated to movie and television series. Some search services offer you the option to search Usenet groups along with, or instead of, Web sites. Later in the course we will illustrate searching Usenet postings.


Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS) provide large searchable databases of information. Using the Z39.50 query language, text files can be searched based on keywords. A directory of WAIS servers and sources is available from Thinking Machines Corporation, Cambridge, MA. As with gophers, there is still good information available through WAIS, but little new information is appearing. This course does not cover WAIS sources. WAIS and Gopher are still used in academia. However, unless you are performing academic research, you will typically use Web pages, Usenet groups, and FTP archives.