What is World Wide Web and how does it support today's internet?

World Wide Web

Nowadays, we can sit down at practically any computer, almost anywhere on the planet, and access online information with the far more powerful medium than any access capabilities on Earth: the World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web (WWW) is what most people think of as the Internet. It's all the Web pages, pictures, videos and other online content that can be accessed via a Web browser. WWW is most often referred to simply as "the Web." It was originally designed in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee while he was a contractor at CERN.

The term refers to all the interlinked HTML pages that can be accessed over the Internet. The early Web was a collection of text-based sites hosted by organizations that were technically gifted enough to set up a Web server and learn HTML. It has continued to evolve since the original design, and it now includes interactive (social) media and user-generated content that requires little to no technical skills.

Now life is so dependent on the Web that it seems remarkable we ever lived without it. The World Wide Web has been central to the development of the Information Age and is the primary tool billions of people use to interact on the Internet.

Web resources may be any type of downloadable media, but web pages are hypertext media which have been formatted in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Such formatting allows for embedded hyperlinks which contain URLs and permit users to easily navigate to other web resources.

Many hostnames used for the World Wide Web begin with www because of the long-standing practice of naming Internet hosts according to the services they provide. When a user submits an incomplete domain name to a web browser in its address bar input field, some web browsers automatically try adding the prefix "www" to the beginning of it and possibly ".com", ".org" and ".net" at the end, depending on what might be missing.

Multiple web resources with a common theme, a common domain name, or both, make up a website. Websites are stored in computers which are running a program called a web server in which response to requests made over the Internet from web browsers running on user's computers. Website content can be largely provided by a publisher, or interactively where users contribute content or the content depends upon the users or their actions. Websites may be provided for myriad informative, entertainment, commercial, governmental, or non-governmental reasons.

Many countries regulate web accessibility as a requirement for websites. International co-operation in the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative led to simple guidelines that web content authors, as well as software developers, can use to make the Web accessible to persons who may or may not be using assistive technology.

How the world wide web works?

The network of web servers is the backbone of the World Wide Web.

Just like the Internet, the WWW has a protocol, which is known as HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP acts as an interface between a Web Client Software, such as Netscape Navigator. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is used to gain access to the web.

A web browser requests for a particular web page to the web server, which response with the requested page and its contents.

Then, it displays the page as rendered by HTML or other web languages used. Each resource on the web is identified by a globally unique identifier (URI). The domain name system, a hierarchical naming system for computers and resources on the Internet, is used to resolve the URL into an IP address.

Presence of hyperlinks, the worldwide availability of content, and a global readership are some of the striking features of the World Wide Web.

The interlinked hypertext documents form a web of information. Hyperlinks present on web pages allow the web users to choose their paths of traversal across information on the web. They provide an efficient cross-referencing system and create a non-linear form of text. Moreover, they create a different reading experience.

The information on the web is available 24/7 across the globe. It is updated in real time and made accessible to web users around the world. Except for certain websites that require user login, most other websites are open to everyone. This all-time availability of information has made the Internet a platform for knowledge-sharing.

  • On your computer, mobile phone or tablet you have a software application called a "Web browser". Major web browsers are Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera, and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

  • You type a web address (also called a "URL") in the address-bar: something like www.google.com or even just an IP address of the website.

  • If you have not supplied the protocol, the browser will automatically add it, and change the address to http://www.google.com.

  • Then it does some background work translating the address to the IP number of the server and send a request to fetch the appropriate page from the right computer somewhere, possibly on the other side of the world.

  • The computer on the other side runs a software program called a web server. Major web servers are the open source Apache and Nginx servers, and the proprietary Microsoft IIS. These web servers can be configured to map each request to a specific file on the file-system to be served as-it-is. This would create a static web site. A site that cannot take any input from you, the user.

  • The web server can be configured to run a program when the user requests a page. That program can be written in many different programming languages.

When you access a URL what you usually get back is a file with text in it using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) that describes which part is the title, what are list items etc. In addition, the HTML page usually refers to a number of additional files (for example - images). After the browser receives the HTML file it parses it and will request the additional files from the web server. At the same time, it tries to render the file and display it in your browser.

The uses of the World Wide Web

The world wide web can be used for sharing information. Without the world wide web, we probably wouldn't know half the things we do today. You see scientists use the world wide web to send data to each other and post it on websites.

Without the world wide web there wouldn't be a Yahoo, Google, or bing and so on. Also, Apple probably wouldn't be as big as a company it is today considering the fact that all their products are based on the internet.

The world wide web is not only a way for people to discover products but it is also what makes us who we are today by not only teaching us but by using it as a way to talk to someone on the other side of the world.


Stock photo from amasterphotographer