Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online
Among its other wonders, marvels, and delights, the Internet is home to a mind-boggling sea of questions and answers on what often appears to be every topic under the sun, from "How do I send e-mail from my Internet account to someone on CompuServe?" or "what Firesign Theatre CDs are available?"
Within a given topic, many of these are the basic questions that any newcomer would (or should) ask—that is, Questions that are Asked Frequently. Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) documents, which collect such questions and answers, are one of the not-at-all-secret Great Resources of the Internet.
Online copies of the Internet's thousands of FAQs are squirreled away in various nooks and crannies across the Internet's global reaches, where the able Internaut can, with a modicum of skill and effort, find and read 'em.
Many of these FAQs contain information invaluable to the Internet newcomer, a.k.a. "newbie"—everything from what TCP/IP software is available for your desktop computer to who offers "Internet accounts" and the Netiquette of participating in a global online society.
The Catch-22, of course, is that to find said answers on the Internet, you have to already have access to the Internet, and already know enough about the Internet and its tools to be able to figure out where and how to look.
Even for an experienced Internaut, this can occasionally be a frustrating task. For a newbie only beginning to access and use the Internet—or someone who hasn't yet gotten even that far—being told "it's on the Net" is like telling someone who doesn't have a telephone to call Directory Information.
Enter, among others, Kevin Savetz.
Kevin clearly suffers from a fascination with the Internet and the dread Restless Urge to Write. I first encountered Kevin a few years ago—by e-mail, not surprisingly—in the course of an Internet article he was writing. I subsequently had the opportunity to buy several articles from him for Internet World magazine, of which I was editor-in-chief for the first six issues.
Through Kevin's articles, I learned a lot more about Internet oddities, such as MUDs and MOOs and MUSHes, the Usenet Oracle, and backgammon in cyberspace. Kevin, in turn, had the dubious pleasure of working with a demanding, nit-picking, curmudgeonly editor who insisted on precision, completeness, and focus as only someone who's already written one Internet book can. (I hope Kevin feels this was a fair trade.)
Kevin also started and took responsibility for maintaining FAQs that are, in my opinion, essential reading for new Internet users, such as the Internet Services FAQ and the Unofficial Internet Booklist.
As Kevin seems to have discovered, the answers to new users' questions about the Internet and how to use it would fill a book—this book, to be specific. And you don't need a computer, modem, or electricity to read a book—unless it's dark out, of course :-).
There's probably some information in here you won't find on the Internet no matter how hard you look—and I guarantee that a lot of what's in here is a lot easier to find by using the book than by pursuing it online. And if you have any other questions about Kevin Savetz or his book, I suggest that the answers are undoubtedly in an FAQ that Kevin has created for just this purpose.
Read, learn, enjoy. And (I predict) within a month or so you'll in turn find yourself answering questions like these that people ask you.
Daniel P. Dern
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