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beyond the northeast corner

Freemasonry And The World-Wide Web


Richard h. sands


ALL OVER THE WORLD, institutions with information to disseminate are literally pouring it into the World-Wide Web (“WWW”), and Freemasonry is no exception. Masons have made an enormous volume of material available to those seeking more light on this ancient Fraternity.

Information on the Web is almost always cross-indexed to related material. This feature makes any search an adventure. The searcher never really knows what hidden byway will reveal a striking new insight, a nugget of historical fact, or a beautiful image.

If you are new to this technology, this note will give you enough basic information to get started.

Basic requirements

To begin your search, you must have access to a computer equipped with a connection to the Internet and a piece of software called a “browser.” If you are not familiar with these terms, or with computer basics-- how to start a program, type in short phrases, and use a mouse, this note cannot help you. You should seek help through friends, co-workers or professionals at your local public library, or short courses at a local educational institution.

Structure of the Web

The Web is not a physical thing. It is actually a constantly-changing collection of millions of computer files with a common structure or layout called HTML (an acronym for ‘hypertext markup language’.) Unless you plan to post information of your own on the Web, you need not understand the structure. Your browser-- a program like Netscape Navigator, or Microsoft Internet Explorer-- understands and interprets the file for you by placing images and text on your computer screen when it opens an HTML file.

The HTML files (also called ‘documents’) are exchanged over the Internet, a huge collection of computers connected together by a complex telecommunication system. Your own computer need not be permanently connected to the Internet to receive documents. You can make a temporary connection by dialing into a local ‘Internet service provider’ with your modem.

The name “Web” was suggested by an important feature of HTML documents-- an ability to include links or references to other HTML documents. Since each document in the system potentially holds links to many other documents, the image of a spider web was suggested to the early designers. Each document represents a point where many silken threads come together. Since the documents are actually stored on computers all over the world, the concept of “World Wide Web” was but a short jump.

 In practice, any word, phrase or picture on the screen can be made by the HTML author into an active connection-- called a “link”-- to any another document. When the reader points to such a link with the cursor and clicks the mouse, the browser automatically locates and loads the document referred to and displays it on the screen in place of the original. (This jumping from document to document reminded early designers of the way the Starship Enterprise could jump through hyperspace, which led to the “hypertext” part of HTML name.)

 The browser usually distinguishes “link” words or phrases in the text from ordinary ones through color or typeface. Also, when the cursor is placed over such a link, without clicking on it, there is usually some indication from the browser about where the link will take you.

File names and bookmarks

 The names for files or documents on the web are punctuated in a peculiar way, which allows the Internet to identify, locate and request the page you have linked to. Internet links for web documents look something like this:

 The first part, through the two // marks, tells the browser that you will be looking for an HTML document. This is helpful, because there are other types of documents stored on the web which require other software to display properly. The WWW part is conventional, not required, and tells the world that the document was intended as part of the World-wide Web.  The next part, after the first period, is usually the Internet name for the company or institution responsible for posting the document. The last part, .com, means that the sponsor is a commercial organization. (Other possibilities include .EDU for an educational institution, .GOV for government, .ORG for a nonprofit organization.)

If the link ends with .com, your browser will be looking for a file, on the computer maintained by that institution, with the computer file of index.htm or index.html as its name. Such a file acts like a table of contents to other files of interest on the specified Internet site. Alternatively, the link may spell out a particular file desired, such as

In this case, everything after the last / identifies a particular file available on the institution’s host computer. The entire name, including the punctuation is commonly called a URL, for “unique record locator.”  As the name suggests, it serves as an unambiguous way to locate, or link to, any document stored on any computer connected to the Internet.

Luckily, you seldom have to type out any of these long URL file names. Most of the time, you will only know about them because they appear as links in some other document you are reading on the screen. In that case, it is only necessary to “point and click” to read the document you want to jump to.

Once you arrive at a page of interest, you might want to keep track of its URL or Internet address for future reference. Your browser contains a “bookmarking” feature for this purpose. While looking at a page, you merely click the appropriate button to “add a bookmark” and a memo will be stored away to bring you back again with the click of a mouse. The bookmarking feature lets you organize your bookmarks in folders, with names like “Freemasonry,” to group together references to a single topic. (The bookmark file is itself an HTML document which can be shared with friends.)

 Your browser will be programmed to “start up” at some particular page on the Web, called the home page. If you get lost in your search, you can always come “home” by clicking on the browser button set up to take you there. You can change your home page to any page on the web. I like to start up with a “search engine” and have set my home page to one of the best,

Using Search Engines

With all the millions of documents on the web, it would be impossible to find what you are interested in without some sort of index. Since it is constantly changing, the Web is constantly being indexed by robotic programs called “search engines.” The search engine reads all the documents it can find, indexes any key words and phrases, and follows all the embedded links to find still more documents. The results are made available without charge to searches in a form much like the card catalog at a library. (Search engine companies are financed by selling “advertising” which appears with the results when you make a search.)

To find information about Freemasonry, for example, it is only necessary to type that word into the “search” window of one of the engines, like Yahoo.

Society and Culture: Organizations: Social: Freemasonry

St. Lawrence Freemason - electronic newspaper supporting Freemasonry in general and within St. Lawrence County, New York specifically.

Freemasonry on the Internet - learn about the worlds oldest and largest fraternal organization, Freemasonry.

Italian Freemasonry: Pietre-Stones - review of free thought. Essays regarding the history of freemasonry and its influence in arts, literature and music. Page - a world wide Usenet forum for the discussion of Freemasonry, moderated to eliminate hate-filled posts and to remain on-topic.

Story of Jersey Freemasonry - Freemasonry came to Jersey with the travelling Lodges attached to military units in the 18th Century, and its progress to date.

World of Freemasonry - Freemasonry's charities and history, includes "The Antiquity of the Craft".

Regional: Countries: New Zealand: Regions: Bay of Plenty: Cities: Rotorua: Community: Organizations

Freemason Lodge Matakana - information about the Lodge, includes meeting details and contact information as well as a links page.

 As you can see, it’s a mixed bag, and in no particular order. Each of the 138 lines, however is a link to a page of information. That page will link to others, and so the search begins.

 There are two Masonic links which are likely to be around for a while and to contain relevant information for the newcomer: the emason web ring, and the home page for the Michigan Grand Lodge.

 Web Rings

 Web rings are a collection of web pages devoted to a single topic, and linked together in a giant structure like a ring. This structure is actually more like the children’s game “ring-around-rosy” because a new page can be added at any time, merely by “joining hands” (connecting links) with a pair of neighboring sites on the same ring. The joy of this is that a single click of the mouse can take you from one site devoted to a certain topic to another, in a random or orderly fashion as you prefer.

 The web ring devoted to freemasonry can be found at URL

It is carefully monitored by some devoted Brothers from New Jersey, and contains a vast collection of informative and interesting material on Freemasonry.

Michigan Grand Lodge Home Page

The home page for the Grand Lodge of Michigan is found at URL

Among other useful things to be found there is a method for subscribing to an e-mail mailing list for Michigan masons. If your browser includes the ability to initiate email (most do, but not all) you can enroll on the list by following the instructions on the Grand Lodge page.  If not, and you have access to an independent email account, you can subscribe by sending a blank message (no subject, no content) from your regular email account to the address

(Note that this is an email address, not the URL of a web page.)

Enjoy your Journey

It’s always dangerous to list particular links in a publication, because they can be obsolete in the blink of an eye. The easiest way to appreciate what’s “out there” is to take the plunge, point your search engine to “freemason*” and follow wherever it leads. May it lead you always toward the light.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014