If you check out the effects forum rules and FAQs there are some links in there regarding the effect types and what they do. Also ovnilabs.com has an extensive collection of literature on a few things but mostly compressors.
Most effects users (as far as I'm aware) don't use MIDI to control their stuff. There are two ways to use midi to control your effects; buy effects with MIDI capability, buy a controller and program them so they work with each other or buy a MIDI switcher that allows you to wire all your effects through it and control switching with that. The former is usually a little bit cheaper, but limits your pedal selections to those with MIDI and the latter usually involves a huge piece of hardware that isn't cheap, but doesn't limit your pedal choices.
If you run across a term you're unfamiliar with do a search here in the effects forum first, if you still can't find an answer start a thread. If starting a thread doesn't get you your answer, you're probably heading into relatively uncharted waters and then it's up to you to help us out