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  AUTHOR: Davis, Philip 

                TITLE: Welcome to the World-Wide Web. by Philip Davis 
           APPEARS IN: Computers in Libraries 1041-7915 Jan 1995, v15, n1,
               PAGING: ill. (table) 
           ANNOTATION: The World-Wide Web (WWW) is a hypertext system that
                           facilitates  access to the Internet from a variety
                           of platforms. It includes  Gopher, telnet, ftp,
                           WAIS, Usenet news and many other useful  tools. In
                           addition to text, WWW documents contain images,
                           sounds  and movies. The system is easy to use and
                           is capable of drawing  data from nearly every

             SUBJECTS: Hypertext--Usage 
               OCLC #: 16712168(IAC) 

Davis, Philip. Welcome to the World-Wide Web. In Computers in
     Libraries Jan 1995, v15, n1, p51(5). 

What do Internet gurus, librarians, students, captains of private     
enterprise, and Al Gore all have in common? They're all talking about 
the World-Wide Web. Everyone is talking about it, and whether you     
call it WWW, [W.sup.3] or just the Web, it is the most flexible and   
intuitive way to navigate the Information Superhighway.               
The World-Wide Web (WWW) originated at the European Center for        
Particle Physics (CERN) laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. It was     
conceived in 1989 as a hypertext-based system to facilitate worldwide 
information sharing among the high-energy physics community.(1)       
The idea behind the WWW is that everyone, irrespective of computer    
platform (DOS, Macintosh, Unix, OS/2) should be able to access        
information on the network.                                           
In 1991, it became available for the rest of the Internet community.  
The Web's popularity is due largely to its simplicity and ability to  
incorporate data from almost any source with little effort, making it 
an excellent front end to the Internet.(1)                            
World-Wide Web information resources are a step beyond the world of   
pure ASCII, and into the world of multimedia. In addition to plain    
text, documents can contain images, sounds, and movies, creating a    
world rich with possibilities. The WWW is not exclusive of other      
Internet resources, but incorporates Gopher, telnet, ftp, WAIS,       
Usenet news, and other resources, making the Web a place for one-stop 
Internet shopping.                                                    
Unprecedented Success                                                 
The Web is undergoing unprecedented success. In 1993 the Web grew by  
350,000 percent. By March 1994 at least 100,000 pieces of information 
located on 26,000 computers were accessible to the millions who use   
it. In May alone, 800GB of information--the equivalent of 2,300       
Encyclopaedia Britannicas travelled over the Web.(2) As of June,      
there were more than 7,000 WWW servers on the Internet, and about     
thirty to ninety new servers are added daily, according to Henry      
Matthes, an analyst with Dataquest Inc., in San Jose, California.(3)  
According to statistics gathered from the NSFnet, WWW traffic over    
the NSFnet backbone (in megabytes) had exceeded gopher traffic in     
March 1994.(4)                                                        
The World-Wide Web is a globally distributed information system based 
on hypertext. Using Web client software (like Mosaic), browsing the   
information available on the Web lets users view that information as  
part of an enormous document of interlinked pages. These pages        
contain hypertext links to other documents providing access to almost 
all of the information available on the Internet.(5)                  
You can also think of the WWW as a huge global spider web (with the   
documents as the nodes and the hypertext linkages as the silk that    
connects them). Encapsulated in the link which connects two documents 
is the name of the document being referenced, the address of the      
computer where it can be found, and the method required to access it. 
End-users need not concern themselves with the technicalities of      
hypertext; they only need to point-and-click on hypertext links, and  
the software contends with linking them with the right document.(2)   
The WWW is unique from all other Internet resources in that it        
supports multimedia. Any document on the Web can incorporate text,    
graphics, sound, and even video.                                      
An excellent example of incorporating multimedia into the Web is Le   
WebLouvre ( pioch/louvre/). Le WebLouvre is  
a virtual tour of Paris, world-class art museum, which incorporates   
stunning images, art critiques, and classical musical clips together  
into a set of interlinked documents. It is no wonder why Le WebLouvre 
won the Best of Web '94 contest for the best use of multiple media.   
The Web's ability to work on a multimedia platform makes it a perfect 
venue for publishing as well. Travels with Samantha                   
(, an 
electronic travelogue about Philip Greenspun's journey across North   
America, incorporates over 250 stunning photo images embedded in      
nineteen chapters of text. Click on highlighted place names and you   
are instantly transported to the Xerox Map Server which displays his  
location on a map. Hypertext makes this electronic travelogue more    
flexible and innovative than any paper-bound copy could hope to be.   
It Takes Two To Tango: How the WWW Works                              
The WWW is a client/server information system. Client/server systems  
consist of two separate programs (the client and the server), which   
communicate with each other using a standardized protocol called      
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).(6)                                
Documents are marked up with a standard language called hypertext     
markup language (HTML), which contains information about the          
document's format, such as its title and paragraphs, as well as       
character format like bold and italics. There are several guides and  
tutorials on the Web for those interested more in the workings of     
HTML. (See the sidebar "HTML Documentation" for a list of sources.)   
A document can also contain embedded links to other documents. These  
links must also be written in a standard format called the Uniform    
Resource Locator (URL), and provide four required pieces of           
information: the protocol required to retrieve the document, the      
location of the server, its directory location, and the name of the   
For example, the appropriate URL link to retrieve the document A      
Beginner's Guide to HTML, would be:                                   
The first part of the URL, http, is the protocol for document         
transfer. is the location of the server--in this    
case at the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications. demoweb  
is the name of the directory, and html-primer.html, is the name of    
the document.                                                         
In this example, the above document being retrieved is a hypertext    
document. URLs can point to other types of documents as well:         
ftp:// is the protocol for transferring a file.                       
gopher:// will link the client to a Gopher.                           
telnet:// will invoke terminal emulation with a                       
remote computer.                                                      
As mentioned earlier, it takes two to tango on the WWW--one partner   
is the client, and the other is the server. Clients work at the       
user's end and send requests for information. The server works on the 
other end and transmits the reply. Information is sent and received   
this way as packets of data. This type of client/server negotiation   
continues until all of the requested information is sent.             
Depending on whether the document contains graphics or other complex  
elements, the client and server negotiate over formatting. For        
example, a graphics file can be in GIF, JPEG, EPS, or TIFF formats,   
depending on how the client phrases its request for the               
information.(5) Thank goodness that this negotiation is hidden from   
the end-user] If you use NCSA's Mosaic browser, you should only see a 
small icon of the globe spinning round and round, and possibly some   
comments about the status of transfer.                                
WWW Browsers                                                          
WWW browsers are the client software that you use on your computer to 
navigate the Internet. Browser software interprets the hypertext data 
sent to you by the host server, along with its pictures, text         
formats, and assorted multimedia effects, and displays the document   
(also called a page) on your screen.                                  
There are a number of browsers available free on the net including    
Mosaic, Cello, and Samba (which are graphical browsers), and Lynx     
(which supports only text). Those still using dial-in terminal        
emulation are not completely exiled to the ghettos of Web-less        
cyberspace: both line-mode and full-screen text WWW clients can       
access the Web.(7) NCSA's Mosaic is the most popular of the graphical 
browsers, possibly because it is freely distributed over the Internet 
to encourage use of the Web.(1) Mosaic is available for Macintosh,    
MS-Windows, and X-Windows. Alternative graphical browsers have been   
springing up recently, providing the end-user with a variety to       
choose from. Netscape by Mosaic Communications Corp., has been dubbed 
the "coolest" browser, and may soon joust for first position with     
NCSA.  The easiest way to get a copy of Mosaic is to use an existing  
Internet connection to ftp (download) a copy of Mosaic to yourself    
from (See also the sidebar "Anonymous FTP Sites    
for WWW Client Software" for a list of where to get other types of    
client software.)                                                     
New updates of Mosaic are released faster than the speed of light, so 
make sure to have a copy of the most recent update. The most recent   
update as of September 1994, was version 2.0 alpha 8. Mosaic is far   
from a bugfree application--sequential updates deal with making it    
fully functional. It is also sold commercially as part of several     
Internet access products, including Spry's Internet in a Box.         
Mosaic's popularity lies not only in its intuitive layout, but in a   
robust number of functions that allow even the most inexperienced     
users full access to the Web's resources.(8) Tedious and cryptic      
navigational commands, like typing in the full address for a resource 
link, are giving way to a point-and-click environment.                
Mosaic can be run from an Internet-connected network or from a        
dial-up connection to an Internet service provider. The latter route  
requires either a SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) or a PPP       
(Point-to-Point Protocol) connection.(9)                              
A Bandwidth Hog                                                       
The bad news about Mosaic is that it is a bandwidth hog. Multimedia   
is extremely data-intensive. Images and sound files can require       
transfers of several hundred thousand bytes across the Internet, and  
short movies can run up to several megabytes. It is so                
data-intensive, that Rob Raisch, president of The Internet Company,   
claims that less than one quarter of Internet users have access to    
the bandwidth that can support it.(8) Even with a good data           
connection, Mosaic can appear to run as slowly as molasses.           
Brave New World of Commerce                                           
Although the Web is still a testing ground for young academics        
sporting ponytails and tennis shoes, private industry is awakening to 
the Web's commercial benefits.                                        
The same hardware and software required to publish on the Web can     
also be used to set up company-wide information services. The servers 
available today have fairly sophisticated security, allowing          
companies to provide separate information for both internal and       
external use (the latter for users connecting over the Internet).(5)  
A company may want to provide internal information such as training   
manuals, personnel management resources, and other pertinent          
resources to employees. To the rest of the world they could offer     
product catalogues, order forms, public stock information, and        
company news.                                                         
CommerceNet ( is the first market trial of    
electronic commerce on the Internet. It is a consortium of Northern   
California high-technology companies and organizations whose goal is  
to create an electronic marketplace on the Internet. CommerceNet      
hopes to stimulate the growth of a communications infrastructure that 
will be secure, easy-to-use, oriented for commercial use, and ready   
to expand.                                                            
Virtual Storefronts                                                   
Because the Web supports multimedia, it becomes an ideal platform for 
setting up "virtual storefronts." Company logos, product images, and  
descriptions can easily be set up like a brochure. In fact,           
publishing company information on the Web has many advantages over    
their paper-based counterparts--they can be readily and cheaply       
updated, and distributed at nearly the speed of light. On the Web,    
there is no such thing as an outdated electronic brochure. Companies  
like Mecklermedia, ( have already set up    
shop with a virtual storefront and intend to provide virtual          
locations for other businesses.                                       
Resource Sharing and Participation                                    
Because documents can be linked together in a hypermedia environment, 
the world's information resources can theoretically be shared. This   
presents a unique opportunity for libraries which duplicate many of   
the same information resources at each location. The library would    
benefit from sharing resources as an alternative to building up many  
of its own collections. This becomes even more apparent when special  
collections get put on the Web and made available to other libraries  
which lack the financial means to dc, the same.                       
Many libraries have already established a presence on the Web, and    
many more are yet to follow. The Library of Congress has been at the  
forefront. and has launched its own virtual library located at                                                
The Library of Congress currently offers photographic and sound       
collections from the American Memory Project, an African-American     
Culture and History online exhibit, and Country Studies from the      
Federal Research Division.                                            
The federal government has also been active in resource sharing on    
the WWW. Welcome to the White House (,      
personally endorsed by President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore   
was recently established in October 1994 to enable those linked to    
the Web to retrieve government documents and other information from   
various federal agencies. Currently, about 3,000 electronic documents 
produced by the administration on topics such as how to start and     
finance a small business, learn about Medicare, or government-funded  
child care programs are now available online, and more services are   
Searching and Serendipity: You Can Get There from Here                
Because the WWW is based on hypermedia, users are able to browse from 
one site to another along the links. In the same way that users       
browse library shelves, hypertext allows serendipity to play a role   
in navigating the Internet. The only trouble is that there is no      
standard way to link information--a click on a highlighted word may   
take you elsewhere in the document, to another document at the same   
site, or half-way around the world] When the Web was a much smaller   
place, this type of navigation worked well. The trouble in a huge     
interwoven web is that there might not be a direct link from where    
you are to where you want to be (the classical You Can,t Get There    
>From Here] problem).                                                  
All is not lost because there are numerous services on the Web which  
help weary travellers reach their destination. There are several      
Virtual Libraries which organize Web information by subject. Others   
maintain searchable catalogues which accept user-provided keywords.   
Many WWW servers also support a WAIS server which returns a list of   
ranked results based on the relevance of each document to the user's  
search string. (See the sidebar "Catalogues and Indexes on the Web.") 
Searching the Web does not eliminate browsing through related         
hypertext documents, but in fact encourages it. After locating an     
appropriate site, you can continue your search by exploring some of   
its links. Most of us do this in a library anyway--the catalogue      
sends us to the right place on the shelf, from which we begin to      
browse for related titles. Serendipity allows us to discover          
unexpected and related resources we did not previously consider. It   
becomes a venue for discovery and learning.                           
RELATED ARTICLE: HTML Documentation                                   
Several guides and tutorials are available on the Web for those       
interesed in the workings of HTML. NCSA's "A Beginner's Guide to      
Style Guide to Writing HTML                                   rview.html       
HTML Quick Reference                                                 
Pointers to Miscellaneous WWW Technical Information                                   
RELATED ARTICLE: Anonymous FTP Sites for WWW Client Software          
Graphical User Interface (GUI) Clients                                
Mosaic (developed by CERN)                                            
Mosaic Netscape (Mosaic Communications Corp.)                         
                                                              (PC only)                                                
                                                              (Mac only)                                  
AIR Mosaic demo version (Spry Inc.) (Windows only)                    
Cello (developed at Cornell)                                          
Samba (developed at CERN)                                             
ASCII-based WWW Clients                                               
Lynx (University of Kansas)                                           
Demo available. Telnet to:                       
(log-on www, no password required)                                    
RELATED ARTICLE: WWW Glossary                                         
Browser. Browsers are the software which navigates the World-Wide Web 
from the user (or client's) end. They send requests in the form of    
hypertext transport protocol (HTTP) to a WWW server.                  
Client. A client is the computer which sends a request for            
information to a WWW server.                                          
File Transfer Protocol (ftp). A protocol that defines how to move     
files from one computer to another.                                   
Gopher. (1) A menu-based system for exploring Internet resources. (2) 
American burrowing rodent.                                            
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). A simplified text-based markup      
language that creates standardized text presentations for client      
software. Contains formatting information about the document, as well 
as links to other documents. HTML is a subset of standard generalized 
markup language (SGML).                                               
Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). A standard protocol used to      
transfer information between client and server over the WWW.          
Protocol. A set of rules that are used to communicate requests and    
replies over a network.                                               
Server. A computer which maintains electronic documents, and sends    
them by request to client computers.                                  
Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). A standard markup        
language used to communicate information about the structure of the   
document, including text formatting and links to other documents.     
Telnet. A terminal emulation program that allows you to log on to     
other computers on the Internet.                                      
Usenet. A group of systems that exchanges news on the Internet.       
Wide Area Information Server (WAIS). A server which can search        
databases and provide relevant feedback to user-entered search        
RELATED ARTICLE: Catalogues and Indexes on the Web                    
This list is anything but complete. New tools for navigating the WWW  
are rapidly appearing on the net.                                     
Searchable Catalogues                                                 
Searchable catalogues require that your client software can work with 
form documents.                                                       
CUI W3 Catalog                                
The Lycos Home Page: Hunting WWW Information 
Yahoo: A Guide to the WWW          
WWWW: The World-Wide Web Worm                                                     
Browsable Indexes                                                     
Browsable indexes are suitable for those clients that don't support   
forms, or for text-based clients like Lynx.                           
The WWW Virtual Library:Subject Catalog                           
Internet Resources Meta-Index                                 dex.html          
The Whole Internet Catalog  
Yahoo: A Guide to the WWW          
(1.) Porterfield, Keith W. "WWWW (What's a World Wide Web?),"         
Internet World, 5(3) (1994): 20-22. (2.) Kleiner, Kurt. "What a       
tangled Web they wove," New Scientist, (July 30, 1994): 35-39. (3.)   
Patch, Kimberly. "Businesses spin Web for distribution; server        
options are expanding rapidly," PC Week, 11 (25) (1994): 73-75. (4.)  
Calcari, Susan. "A Snapshot of the Internet," Internet World, 5(6):   
54-58. (5.) Sullivan, Eamonn. "HTTP eases access to Internet info,"   
PC Week, 11(4) (1994): 71-73. (6.) Powell, James. "Adventures with    
the World-Wide Web: creating a hypertext library information system," 
Database, 17(1) (1994): 59-66. (7.) Notess, Greg R. "Lynx to the      
World-Wide Web," Online, 18 (1994): 78. (8.) McBride, James.          
"Marketing Mosaic," Internet World, 5(7) (1994): 40-43. (9.) Gralla,  
Preston. "NCSA Mosaic; untangling the World Wide Web," PC-Computing,  
7(7) (1994): 113-114.                                                 
COPYRIGHT Meckler Corporation 1995