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Updated : Tuesday 12 October 2010

A browser functions like a navigator sailing the seven seas, or an archetypal adventurer like Indiana Jones. On the internet it is a software programme that enables you to conduct searches and consult websites and blogs. Some of the best known are Internet explorer, Firefox, Safari and the latest, Chrome.

The browser is to the web what your fingers are to a magazine: it lets you flick through the pages in much the same way.

The term we use in English, “browser”, with its connotations of flicking idly through the pages, or even grazing like an animal, manages to give the impression that the internet is only used for superficial stuff, rather than for meaningful in-depth research. Interestingly, the French actually use the word for “navigator”, which I much prefer, as it sounds far more serious. Even the word the Canadians use, which translates as “gatherer”, would be an improvement.

You might well think that there’s not much left of the adventuring spirit, when you’re surfing the web, glued to your chair and your computer. But that would be to overlook the fact that online adventure can be right there, on your screen. Just by using your browser, you can explore distant countries, meet the love of your life or a friend who could turn out to be for real (IRL), or even discover a new passion for genealogy, or butterflies, or ASCII art. On the internet, that sense of adventure is ever-present.

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