Network - A group of entities, called nodes, that are connected in some way.
In our networks each node is a collection of data describing the the person, business or chapter of the parent organization that it represents. This collection of data contains contact information including name, address, phone, web site URL etc. as well as things like specialties (in the case of veterinarians), products or product lines (for a manufacturers organization) and so on. The exact information collected will vary from one application to another and generally evolves during the implementation.|
The information in the network actually forms a dynamic database which can be searched using any of the information collected as a keyword. For example a manufacturers network can be searched for members that make a certain product or for retailers that sell a certain product line. Searches can also be configured with multiple keywords, for example retailers that sell a certain product line and are located in a specified state.
The data collected for each member (his or her node) is displayed on the Internet as a web site. One of the primary functions of the node is to give each member a simple web based interface to maintain and update their data. This interface also gives them a multitude of options for displaying the data within their web site. Each member has control over everything about their web site from backgrounds and font colors to prices and product descriptions (for members that sell products).
Each web site in the network is divided into two parts: a public section and a password protected admin section. Along with the data interface the admin section may contain things like a private bulletin board, messages from the parent organization to it's members, business to business E-commerce, searches of the database not available to the public etc. The makeup of both the private and public sections of the web site vary from application to application and sometimes from site to site within an application. The parent organization generally determines the makeup, in some applications the initial web site has a very basic "billboard" appearance with each member having the option to upgrade. This system allows a member that already has a web site to use the data interface to keep their entry in the database up-to-date, while any searches will link directly to their current web site.