Sailing the Internet's Stormy Seas: Mosaic
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1995. First
published in Our Computer Player, July 1995
The Mosaic Navigator
by Paul Gilster
John Wiley & Sons
Paul Gilster has given himself the task of guiding
users through the
often uncharted waters of the Internet. His two previous books, 'The
Navigator', and 'Finding it on the Internet' have proved to be
sources of information for many users. When they were reviewed in the
Player (February, 1995), however, I criticized their relative lack of
of the World Wide Web-- the graphical hypertext network that for many,
especially for many new users, has BECOME the Internet.
In his new book, 'The Mosaic Navigator', he makes up
for any previous
omissions. As the title suggests, this book is solely devoted to
users up and running with Mosaic.
Mosaic is a Web browser, software to use to move
around the World Wide
Web, view Web pages and their multimedia contents. Developed at the
of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), it
is available for free in versions for Windows, Unix, and the Macintosh.
Gilster focuses on the Windows version, but also
includes a chapter
on the Mac version, and makes enough on-going references to that
to enable Mac users to work with this book as well.
He discusses the background to Mosaic and the Web, and
the sort of connection
to the Internet needed to use Mosaic-- modem users need to arrange a
connection with a service provider; text-based shell accounts just
The book continues with where to find Mosaic, and how
to install it
on a Windows computer and on a Mac. We then look at Mosaic add-ons--
it to work with graphics, sounds, and video, and at how to personalize
Mosaic's menus, and a brief introduction to creating a customized home
page. We discover how Mosaic can be used in place of more traditional
programs for Gopher, FTP, and telnet, as well as its less-impressive
as a UseNet reader, and for e-mail.
Carrying on with using Mosaic on the Web, we get a
chapter of interesting
sites (at least as of September, 1994, when the book went to press).
a discussion of the future for Mosaic and the Web in general, looking
at the themes of finding information that were introduced in Gilster's
The Internet is a fast changing environment, and
nowhere more so than
the World Wide Web. The number of Web sites is estimated to be doubling
every five months-- more than doubling in the time since this book went
to the printers.
That makes it hard to keep up to date-- it may have
been a mistake for
Gilster to focus his book so tightly on NCSA Mosaic rather than on the
Web itself. While Mosaic was the hot Web application last Fall, since
it has been replaced by Netscape-- another freely available program
by some of Mosaic's originators, which offers better performance for
Since Netscape was still in the planning stages when
this book went
to press, Gilster can't be faulted for failing to cover it. However,
he written his book focusing more on the Web and Web browsers in
the book would not have appeared to be obsolete so quickly. Even Mosaic
continues to evolve-- it is a work in progress, in continual beta
with several new versions appearing over the past few months.
However, this book remains relevent, even for users of
other Web browsers.
It would be too bad if users of Netscape, Internet Works, or recent
from CompuServe or elsewhere pass up on this book, just because it's
'The Mosaic Navigator' rather than, for example, 'The Web Navigator'.