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5.1 Network Applications:
The Internet permits users to access information located in databases all over the world.
By browsing and searching data sources on the web, users can apply the Internet's discovery capability
to areas ranging from education to government services to entertainment and commerce.
It is critically important to know that there is no quality assurance applied to information on the web.
o Anyone can post information to the web.
o For example, as we see later in this chapter, anyone can edit a Wikipedia page (with some
exceptions in controversial areas).
o The rule about information on the web is: user beware!
In addition, the web's major strength is also a challenge. The amount of information on the web can be
overwhelming, and it doubles approximately each year. As a result, navigating through the web and gaining
access to necessary information are becoming more and more difficult. To accomplish these tasks, people
increasingly are using search engines, directories, and portals.
Search Engines and Metasearch Engines:
A search engine is a computer program that searches for specific information, by keywords, and
reports the results. A search engine maintains an index of billions of web pages.
It uses that index to find pages that match a set of user-specified keywords.
o Such indexes are created and updated by webcrawlers, which are computer programs that
browse the web and create a copy of all visited pages.
o Search engines then index these pages to provide fast searches.
4 Main Search engines:
o Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask
o search several engines at once and integrate the findings of the various search engines to
answer queries posted by users.
Most organizations and their managers encounter information overload. Information is scattered across
numerous documents, e-mail messages, and databases at different locations and in different systems. Finding
relevant and accurate information is often time consuming and may require access to multiple systems.
One solution to this problem is to use portals.
o A Portal is a web-based, personalized gateway to information and knowledge that provides
relevant information from different IT systems and the Internet using advanced search and
o Four types of portals:
Commercial (public) Portals
offer content for diverse communities, and they are the most popular portals on
the Internet. They are intended for broad audiences, and they offer fairly routine
content, some in real time (for example, a stock ticker).
Examples are Lycos Canada and Sympatico/MSN
support communities such as hobby groups or political parties. They offer a
single point of entry to an entire community of people with affiliated interests.
For example, your university most likely has an affinity portal for alumni.
offer a personalized, single point of access through a web browser to critical
business information located inside and outside of an organization. They are
also known as enterprise portals, information portals, or enterprise information
portals. In addition to making it easier to find needed information, corporate
portals offer customers and employees self-service opportunities.
Industry wide Portals.
An example is TruckNet, which is the portal for the trucking industry and the
trucking community, including professional drivers, owner/operators, and
trucking companies. TruckNet provides drivers with personalized web-based e-
mail, access to applications to leading trucking companies in Canada and the
U.S., and access to the Drivers RoundTable, a forum where drivers can discuss
issues of interest. The portal also provides a large database of trucking jobs and
general information related to the trucking industry.
o These four portals are differentiated by the audiences they serve. Another type of portal, the
mobile portal, is distinguished by its technology.
Mobile Portals: portals that are accessible from mobile devices. Any of the four portals
above can be accessed by mobile devices. These mobile devices are typically wireless
Electronic mail (e-mail):
o the largest-volume application running over the Internet. A recent study found that almost 90
percent of companies conduct business transactions via e-mail, and nearly 70 percent confirm
that e-mail is tied to their means of generating revenue
Web-Based Call Centres:
o Effective personalized customer contact is becoming an important aspect of web-based
o Such service is provided through web-based call centres, also known as customer care centres.
o For example, if you need to contact a software vendor for technical support, you will usually be
communicating with the vendor's web-based call centre, using e-mail, a telephone conversation,
or a simultaneous voice/web session.
o Web-based call centres are sometimes located in foreign countries such as India or the
Philippines. Such offshoring is an important issue for Canadian companies.
Electronic chat rooms:
o refers to an arrangement whereby participants exchange conversational messages in real time.
o A chat room is a virtual meeting place where groups of regulars come to “gab.” Chat programs
allow you to send messages to people who are connected to the same channel of
communication at the same time. Anyone can join in the online conversation. Messages are
displayed on your screen as they arrive, even if you are in the middle of typing a message.
o Two major types of chat programs:
The first type is a web-based chat program, which allows you to send messages to
Internet users by using a web browser and visiting a web chat site
The second type is an e-mail-based (text-only) program called Internet Relay Chat
(IRC). A business can use IRC to interact with customers, provide experts' answers to
questions, and so on.
o Plain old telephone service (POTS), every call opened up a dedicated circuit for the duration
of the call. (A dedicated circuit connects you to the person you are talking with and is devoted
only to your call.)
o The Internet divides data into packets, which traverse the Internet in random order and are
reassembled at their destination.
Telephony, aka voice over Internet protocol or VOIP phone calls are
treated as just another kind of data. That is, your analogue voice signals are digitized,
sectioned into packets, and then sent over the Internet. VoIP significantly reduces your
monthly phone bills.
For example, Skype provides several voice over IP services for free: calling
other people on Skype, video calls on Skype, one-to-one and group chats, and