To College Division Homepage Writing Online: A Student's Guide to the Internet and World Wide Web
CROSSLINKS: Chapter 3—Walking into the World Wide Web

Chapter 3 of Writing Online offers a brief note on how to deal with the computer interface—the array of hardware and software you use to access the Internet and World Wide Web. It also talks about how to deal with the enormousness of the WWW. The Crosslinks here extend those themes by offering software help, more information about the history and nature of computers, tips for writing better user manuals, and computer humor.

| Software Help | More about Computers | Manual Writing Tips | Computer Humor | Crosslinks by Chapter |
Software Help 
  • offers a full array of tips and tricks for both Netscape and Explorer. Just choose Tips and Tricks from the menu. Also, click on their Writer's Info option; they accept submissions on all Internet-related topics. If you're interested in writing tip sheets, help files, and other useful items, either as a personal goal or as a class project, explore their guidelines and shape your writing to their needs. You might just get published. 
  • Microsoft Educator Tutorials offer tips and tutorials on how to use their software in educational settings. If you use Microsoft products on your computer and or in your classroom, the tips here will be helpful. They even have a unit on Microsoft Word and the writing process. 
  • Virtual Doctor offers online help forums for all different types of computer platforms and issues, including one for managing software that you download off the Internet. Virtual doctor is a member of my desktop, which describes itself as "an engaging online network of sites providing vital information for computer users and enthusiasts."
  • Netscape Support Page offers support from Netscape on their browsers and other services. It's good for some odds and ends kinds of questions that aren't readily available in the browser's built in help menu. This site includes a link to frequently asked questions that lead to support for older versions of their product and links to tips for using Netscape 
  • Microsoft Support Page offers support for all of their many products and services, including their web browser, Internet Explorer, and their word processor, Microsoft Word.  
  • WinPlanet's Windows Tip Page offers tips on working with both Explorer browsers and Window's different operating systems. 
  • Internet Explorer Security FAQ is maintained by Scott Schnoll, who, although not an official Microsoft spokesman, is a Microsoft certified technician. He offers advice and updates on how to protect your privacy and your computer when using Internet Explorer. 
  • Call for Help by ZDNet offers an array of advice, much of it for Macintosh users, including easy-to-follow tips and help for using both Netscape and Internet Explorer with a Mac. 
  • Mac/Netscape Secrets offer commonsense advice on keeping your browser secure and feature java scripts that let you see what others can learn about you as you browse. 

| Software Help | More about Computers | Manual Writing Tips | Computer Humor | Crosslinks by Chapter |
Learn More about Computers 
  • Computer Science from StudyWeb, a research resource for students, offers information on everything from artificial intelligence to software tutorials. Unfortunately, the site traps information within its frame, so you'll have to use your browser's ability to open frames in a new window to really enjoy the finds. 
  • The History of Apple Computer Company is a web site maintained by Glen Sanford, systems programmer, engineer, and one-time teacher. 
  • The History of IBM is the official version, sponsored by the company itself. It's worth reading their personal history both in light of the mistakes they made in anticipating the computer revolution and in light of how the company has turned itself around. 
  • Entering the World Wide Web is a page that hasn't been updated, as I write this annotation, since 1993. It still refers to Mosaic, the browser that came out before Netscape. Written by Kevin Huges, this site remains a page with useful definitions. It's like a late model car, still serviceable, but definitely not up to speed. 
  • ThinkQuest Library: History of Computers offers several annotated links to sites that discuss the history of computers. ThinkQuest encourages precollege students and teachers to use the Internet collaboratively and innovatively to create high-quality information sites. Not all sites are as authoritative as ones done by experts or more advanced scholars, but the information is pretty good overall. 
  • Seeing through Computers: Education in a Culture of Simulation is an essay in the American Prospect Magazine by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle. She examines our changing definitions of computer literacy and looks at the implications of the computer as a tool that simulates reality. There are links to other articles on computers and education with this piece, making it a good research resource.

| Software Help | More about Computers | Manual Writing Tips | Computer Humor | Crosslinks by Chapter |
Manual Writing Tips
Writing better user manuals and tips sheets for the software you use in your classroom will help you better understand the software, plus it will help future students learn it more quickly. Since your experience will in many ways resemble future users', you can draw on it when designing frequently asked questions files, tip sheets, and other user advice. Expand your advice not only to cover technical questions—how to set preferences in Netscape, say—but also to include computer savvy tips, e.g., how to do a better search in Altavista. Below are resources that address technical writing, resources that should help you make your manuals and tip sheets more useful. 
  • 10 Ways to Improve Your Technical Writing by Robert W. Bly offers a concise summary of style and reminders for technical writing. 
  • Technical Writing is a resource edited by Gary Conroy. It features links to tips, including detailed advice on how to use graphics. It also has interesting articles by technical writers, editors, and publishers. Culling through here, one could find the equivalent of a good textbook. 
  • Online Technical Writing is a complete online book by David A. McMurrey. The resource is excellent; if you plan to return to it and use it often, I recommend you buy a print version for easier use. McMurrey offers details on how to purchase a copy. 
  • How to Help Someone Use a Computer is a short piece with excellent advice by Philip Agre. If you can adopt the spirit of this advice in manuals you write and in the way you help each other in person, you'll be a real help to the people you aid. 

| Software Help | More about Computers | Manual Writing Tips | Computer Humor | Crosslinks by Chapter |
Computer Humor 

| Software Help | More about Computers | Manual Writing Tips | Computer Humor | Crosslinks by Chapter |
Crosslinks by Chapter