World Wide Web

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The World Wide Web is one of several utilitiesincluding e-mail, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Telnet and Usenetthat form the Internet. Based on a 1989 proposal from Tim Berners-Lee, it was developed at the European Center for Nuclear Research as a way to share information about nuclear physics. At the heart of the Web is a system of many Web serverscomputers or software programs that make it possible for end-users to view and teleport between Web pages, or specially formatted documents commonly written in Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML). The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) describes the Web as "the universe of network-accessible information, the embodiment of human knowledge."

Locations on the World Wide Web, which commonly reside on individual servers, are known as Web sites. Web sites have individual addresses called uniform resource locators (URLs), which must be used to gain access. Upon visiting a Web site, visitors normally begin on its home page. This document often serves as an index to other content within the site, or contains hypertext links to content residing on a different Web site.

Web pages are viewed through software applications called Web browsers. Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator were the two popular Web browsers during the 1990s and early 2000s. Web browsers are the essential link between end-users and a vast sea of static pictures, video, sounds, and text. Said differently, they also enable buyers and sellers of goods and services to engage in electronic commerce.

Because of the Web, consumers and companies began to engage in electronic commerce during the 1990s. After an initial boom, some Internet companies folded or watched their stock value drop in the early 2000s. However, the Web's impact on the economy has been significant. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the digital economy was a critical factor in the United States' economic growth during the mid-to-late 1990s, accounting for one third of the nation's real economic growth during that period, according to Nua Internet Surveys. The growth of e-commerce exceeded the U.S. Department of Commerce's projections during this period, according to Nua. Furthermore, the department predicted "that almost half of all U.S. workers will work in industries that either produce IT products or use IT products extensively by 2006.

According to Global Cosmetic Industry, "During first quarter 2000, shoppers spent $7 billion at e-commerce sitesmerely the tip of the iceberg considering these sales generated an estimated $13.8 billion in offline purchases." Citing information from eMarketer, the publication also noted that e-commerce sales were expected to reach $303 billion by the end of 2001.

According to data released in late 2000 from the OCLC Web Characterization Project, at that time the Web consisted of 7.1 million unique Web sites, 41 percent of which were available to the public. Twenty-one percent of sites were private (restricted to subscribers or other private parties) and the remainder (38 percent) were considered provisional sites, meaning that they were in an unfinished state. According to the project, while the Web was growing at a rapid pace, growth was occurring more slowly than in past years. Additionally, the amount of private or restricted content was increasing.

Because of its very nature, the Web holds strong potential for international e-commerce. According to data from Jupiter Research reported in Information-Week, by 2005 75 percent of the world's Web market is expected to live outside of the United States, compared to 45 percent in 1999. Additionally, according to International Data Corp. (IDC), total Internet spending amounted to $130.5 billion in 1999, 62 percent of which occurred in the United States. While IDC predicted total e-commerce spending would reach $1.6 trillion by 2003, the United States was expected to account for less than half of this amount ($726 billion).

Along with large companies, a growing number of small businesses also found a place on the Web. However, according to information from the 19th Annual Dun & Bradstreet Small Business Survey, reported in Community Banker, more than half of the survey's respondents indicated that the Web has not had a measurable impact on their business. Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated that e-mail was the main reason they used the Internet.

In addition to using the Web for marketing or education, companies also have incorporated other business practices into the online environment. One example is supply chain management (SCM) software, which is used to track inventories, sales, and orders. According to Network World, "retailers, distributors, and manufacturers want to share logistics information by giving trading partners and even consumers direct Web access to their SCM systems. In addition, some industries, such as grocery and apparel retailing, are starting to use shared Web-based online supply chains as hosted business-to-business exchanges." Some companies also began to integrate traditional telephone call centersthe places where customer service calls are handled or orders are taken for products or serviceswith Web pages and other Internet technologies like e-mail and chat rooms.


Gareiss, Dawn. "Business on the World Wide Web." InformationWeek December 11, 2000.

"OCLC researchers measure the World Wide Web." OCLC, October 16, 2000. Available from

Saral, Katie. "http://the.worldwide.web : How To Get Started." Global Cosmetic Industry, December 2000.

"Small Businesses are Using the Web But are Skeptical." Community Banker, August 2000.

"U.S. Department of Commerce: Digital Economy Driving U.S. Growth." Nua Internet Surveys, June 24, 2000. Available from

"World Wide Web." Ecommerce Webopedia, February 10, 2001. Available from

"World Wide Web." Tech Encyclopedia, February 10, 2001. Available from

SEE ALSO: Berners-Lee, Timothy; HTML; History of the Internet and WWW; New Economy; Web Site Basics; World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

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World Wide Web

To some people, the term "World Wide Web" is synonymous with "Internet," but others define it as a graphical interface for using many parts of the Internet. The World Wide Web has become one of the best known and most used aspects of the Internet.

The Internet itself began as an experiment created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in the 1960s. It was a network called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). The first networked computers of ARPANET were connected in 1965; a low-speed telephone line brought together a computer in California and another in Massachusetts. As it grew, ARPANET connected DoD sites with university research facilities worldwide, but not in a linear way. The connections were made so that if several of them were broken, many sites would still be in full contact with one another. The non-linear connections reminded people of a web, and that is where some people believe that the name World Wide Web originated.

In 1972 ARPANET was given its first public demonstration at an International Conference on Computer Communications. It was still primarily an entity within the domain of the DoD and its university research partners. During the next decade, however, the corporate world began to enter the networked computer world. In 1979 CompuServe was the first service to offer electronic mail communication. By 1985, the Internet was heavily used to support communications among researchers and technology developers in a variety of academic and corporate fields.

Once people outside of the original group of users obtained access, this network began linking with other networks and the Internet began its fast growth. Soon software was developed that took advantage of "clickable buttons" and non-linear connections. This software was written in code called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) . It allowed users to move from place to place on the web without having to follow a set path, and without having to type in strings of text commands as they previously had to do.

In 1990 Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first graphical user interface (GUI) browser program for the Internet. He called it "WorldWideWeb," although the name was later changed to Nexus, to avoid confusing the program itself with the larger entity that became known as the World Wide Web.

By October 1993, there were at least 200 known HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) servers on the web, and the Mosaic browser had been released for all common computer platforms, including PC/Windows and Macintosh computers. America Online, which was first available to Macintosh and Apple II users in 1989, launched a Windows-based online service and reached 500,000 subscribers by the end of 1993.

The next year, Marc Andreessen, who was one of the developers of the Mosaic browser, formed the company that would become known as Netscape, which is also the name of the company's popular web browser. Also in 1994, Stanford University Ph.D. candidates David Filo and Jerry Yang began compiling an online guide to interesting sites on the Internet. Once known as Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web, the list was renamed Yahoo! What started as a hobby turned into a rapidly growing business by the following year.

Popular web browser packages include Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer; online service providers also offer proprietary packages that include browsers and search capabilities. Since new sites are added to the World Wide Web almost by the minute, search engines are widely used to seek out sites that match the needs of web surfers . Search engines use a variety of ways to categorize information, depending on the engine. Many offer keyword searches and use Boolean operators to make searches effective. Among the most popular search engines are names such as Yahoo!, Google, AltaVista, and Lycos. Metasearch sites, such as CNet's and others, combine the resources of multiple search engines to answer a user's query for information.

The World Wide Web has influenced our society in major ways. Businesses, individuals, schools, non-profit organizations, even churches, use web sites to offer information to anyone who wants it. Classes and courses are offered via the Internet, and people can use the World Wide Web to keep in touch with family who are away from home, via e-mail or personal web pages, and meet new friends in countries they have never visited. It is now nearly impossible to have any contact with books, magazines, television, or radio and not be offered a web address, also known as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), to visit.

Widespread access to the Internet and the World Wide Web has created new issues in the areas of ethics, economics, privacy, and protection of individual rights. In many schools and public libraries, debate continues over whether and how to restrict access to certain types of web sites. The ease of sharing and reusing graphics, text, and music files has led to concerns about copyright and protecting the rights of the creators of music, video, photographs, graphic art, and original documents. The cost of providing, maintaining, and updating online resources has also resulted in controversy about free access vs. paid subscriptions. As a medium for information, education, entertainment, and commerce, the World Wide Web is still in its early stages.

see also Browsers; Hypermedia and Multimedia; Hypertext; Internet; Networks; Search Engines.

Shirley Campbell

Internet Resources

"A Brief History of the Internet." Internet Society (ISOC). <>

"A Little History of the World Wide Web From 19451995." The World Wide Web Consortium. <>

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World Wide Web (WWW or W3), collection of globally distributed text and multimedia documents and files and other network services linked in such a way as to create an immense electronic library from which information can be retrieved quickly by intuitive searches. The Web represents the application of hypertext technology and a graphical interface to the Internet to retrieve information that is contained in specially formatted documents that may reside in the same computer or be distributed across many computers around the world. It consists of three main elements. The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) comprises the programming codes, or tags, that define fonts, layouts, embedded graphics, and links (hyperlinks) to other documents accessible via the Web. The HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) defines a set of standards for transmitting Web pages across the Internet. The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a standardized naming convention for identifying a Web document, image, or other file by its location, in a sense the address of a file. The result is called the Web because it is made up of many sites, all linked together, with users traveling from one site to the next by clicking a computer's pointing device on a hyperlink.

Web sites, also called Web pages, are really Internet sites that all use the same techniques and HTML tags to create multimedia documents with hypertext links. Each Web page can contain many screens or printed pages of text, graphics, audio, and even video, and the starting point for any Web site is called its home page. Although each page is an Internet site, it must be accessed via a special program called a Web browser, which can translate the HTML into the graphical images, text, and hypertext links intended by the creator of the page.

Interactive television is a generic term that encompasses a variety of Web-related television technologies and products. Typically, a home television receiver and a telephone line are connected through a small appliance that accesses the Internet through the telephone line and converts the downloaded Web pages into a form that can be displayed on the receiver. A remote control interface allows the user to navigate through the Web and select the information to be displayed.

Ted Nelson, an American computer consultant, had promoted the idea of linking documents via hypertext during the 1960s, but the technology required was not to be available for another 20 years. The foundation of what we now think of as the Web originated with work done on the retrieval of information from distributed systems by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN during the 1980s. This culminated in the introduction of a text-only interface, or browser, to the scientific community in 1990 and to the public in 1991. Because of the difficulty of using this version, acceptance outside the scientific and academic communities was slow. Marc Andreessen, an undergraduate student working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), developed a graphical browser for the Web, introducing a UNIX version in 1993. Versions for the Windows and Macintosh operating systems followed in 1994, and acceptance of the World Wide Web blossomed quickly. In the late 1990s the development of improved browsers with greater multimedia functionality, security, and privacy, as well as more powerful search engines capable of indexing the ever greater information on the Web, led to the commercialization of the Internet (see e-commerce).

See P. Whitehead and R. Maran, Internet and World Wide Web: Simplified (2d ed. 1997); E. Wilde, Wilde's WWW: Technical Foundations of the World Wide Web (1997); A. Glossbrenner and E. Glossbrenner, Search Engines: For the World Wide Web (2d ed. 1998); S. Western, The Complete Beginner's Guide to the World Wide Web (1998); T. Berners-Lee and M. Fischetti, Weaving the Web (1999).

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World Wide Web (Web, WWW, W3, W3) A distributed information service that was developed at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, Geneva, in the early 1990s. The Web is a large-scale distributed hypermedia system that is based on cooperating servers attached to a network, usually the Internet, and allows access to “documents” containing “links”. It is accessed using a workstation that is connected to the network and is running a suitable utility program.

Within the Web, documents are presented in hypertext mark-up language (HTML), and may consist of textual material or a number of other forms, such as graphics, still or moving video images, or audio clips. Each form of document has associated with it a player, a means of displaying that document on a suitably configured workstation. Within a document there will be material to be displayed and usually one or more links, which in a text document appear as highlighted words or phrases, or as icons. The links hold embedded pointers to other documents located elsewhere on the Web by the use of a URL. A URL contains information specifying the network protocols to be used, the network address of the server holding the document, and the local index entry for that document. Activating a link, typically by positioning the mouse pointer over the highlighted text and clicking, will cause the workstation to connect via the network to the corresponding server, load the document and the means of presenting the document, and display the document. Most workstation implementations also allow the workstation to initiate file transfers or to act as a gopher station.

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WORLD-WIDE WEB. Short forms WWW and the Web. A global electronic system for organizing, making available and accessing documents on the INTERNET using a HYPERTEXT system. On Web menus, certain terms are numbered (on displays of characters) and underlined (in displays of graphics), indicating that they are links; when these are appropriately activated (usually by clicking on them with a mouse) they retrieve and display a document related to the one in which they occur.

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world wide web (www) Name given to a series of computer networks that can be accessed via local servers, which in turn are serviced by telephone lines. It consists of a network of sites that users can access via the Internet to retrieve or post data. Web documents may include text, graphics, and sound, and have hypertext that the user can click on to access further related information from other Web documents.

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World Wide Web Comput. a widely used information system on the Internet that provides facilities for documents to be connected to other documents by hypertext links, enabling the user to search for information by moving from one document to another.

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WORLD WIDE WEB. SeeInternet .

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world-wide web See INTERNET.