Loving and embracing constant change is a requisite of working in the web industry. Technologies change, rules change, guidelines and best practices change, links break, sites age, and relatively little stays the same. And so it was with great curiosity that I recently took a bit of time to sit down and read through some of the earliest timeforcake articles that were printed in the local newspaper back in 2003.
Much to my surprise I came upon an (almost) six year old article in which every single word still rang perfect and true. The advice I gave in this particular article was no different than advice I give today, and the points touched upon then are all issues I’ve continued to cover on a regular basis over the past half-decade.
And so with a smile and without further ado, I present to you the original 2003 How To Appear Internet Savvy article, with only one update (made in Tip #5 regarding browser versions) for your reading pleasure:
Today (free of charge, zero money down, no shipping and handling) I’m providing you with a list of tips that, when followed, will cause your aura to radiate “INTERNET EXPERT” like a big, bright neon sign.
I suggest at least a modest attempt at making the following practices somewhat automatic for you. At the least, devotion to these practices will keep others’ eye-rolls, snickers, and impatient sighs at bay. At the most, you may find yourself being carried about on your co-workers shoulders all day, caught in an outpouring of endearing stares, listening to shouts and cheers of respect somewhere along the lines of “Hear hear for the Internet Expert!”
TIP #1: Never ever use the terms “AOL” and “Internet” as if they were completely interchangeable. Example no-no: Someone asks if your company has a website. You reply, “Oh yeah! We’re totally on AOL!” Big awful buzzer sound here. AOL is NOT the Internet; AOL is simply one of many browsers that allows you to maneuver about the Internet. It is also a company that likes to put holographic CDs covered with infomercial-like promotions in post offices in attempts of persuading more people into using their services.
TIP #2: Click correctly. When you’re surfing about the Internet, you likely get from place to place using hyperlinks (a.k.a. “links”). You should be aware that links require nothing more than a single click from the left button on your mouse. Double (or triple . . . or quadruple) clicking and right-clicking on links when you simply want to be taken to a different location are a few of the primary causes of those behind-your-back eyerolls you may not know people have been sending your way. Remember this: With links on the Internet, “one-click, that’s it.”
TIP #3: Remember that search engines are for searching, not for typing in complete URLs. (Please refer to my “Computing Terms 101” article if you’re unsure about the definition of a URL.) This means that you do NOT need to head over to Google or Yahoo Search or any other search engine to reach the specific website you already know you want to visit. Instead of typing “www.google.com” into your address bar and then typing in the URL of the site you want to visit in the search box. . . just SKIP going to Google and type the URL of the site you want to visit in the address bar instead!
TIP #4: Understand the term “download” and know how to pull files off the Internet onto your computer when you need/would like them. (For more information, refer to last week’s article on downloading.)
TIP #5: Use an Internet browser that’s not older than your average kindergartner. I’ll tell you right now: if you’re using something along the lines of Netscape 1.0 (born 1994) or Internet Explorer 2.0 (born 1996)—you’re seriously not appearing Internet Savvy. To be completely honest, even the use of AOL or Internet Explorer 5 to navigate the web won’t help your image (or your overall Internet experience) all that much either. To appear savvy, consider downloading and using something a bit more recent, such as Internet Explorer 7, or Firefox 3.
TIP #6: When someone’s surfing the Internet with you and they ask you to “open up a new window,” do NOT furrow your brow and say “huh??”. This will not make you appear Internet savvy. Instead simply reply (in an oh-so-suave tone, of course) “Why, of course!”. Then either hold down the “Ctrl” and then the “N” keys on your keyboard OR click on the “File” menu button at the top of the browser screen, then click on “Open New Window.” Many people find that having more than one browser window open at once is extremely handy for viewing multiple websites simultaneously. Try it out.
TIP #8: Whenever a friend or coworker asks a question that no one in the near vicinity can answer, calmly say “Oh I know that.” Then excuse yourself for just a moment, run to your computer, hop on the Internet, access Google (or your favorite search engine), look up the answer, and return to the questioning party with an eloquent, detailed explanation. Simply being aware that the Internet is home to a mind-boggling amount of information about pretty much everything instantly makes you appear more savvy in general to those around you. It may also encourage you to search the Internet with more regularity, which in turn boosts your true Internet savvy—not simply the appearance of it.
TIP #9: DO NOT click on flashing advertisements that: a) claim you’re the sites 1,000,000th visitor, b) ask you what your favorite color is and show you 4 or 5 circles or hearts or something of the sort, c) state that you were randomly chosen from all site visitors to win $100, etc. etc. etc. Those who are Internet savvy know that those type of advertisements are nothing more than tremendous wastes of time.
TIP #10: For heaven’s sake: the Internet does not bite. So don’t act like it does—especially when you’re in the company of others. Doing so will not make appear Internet savvy.
And that, my friends, is a list of tips that should help you on your way. If you don’t actually become Internet-savvy, I suppose at the very least . . . you can appear it. Let me know how it goes.