What is the World Wide Web?

The World Wide Web ("WWW") is the newest and most exciting way to use the Internet. Earlier methods of sending information over the Internet were limited to text and data, but the Web can incorporate graphics, sound and even animation and video.

The Web began at an organization called CERN and its standards are now administered by the World Wide Web Consortium. It was originally set up to help scientists share data and ideas which could not easily be expressed without graphs and other "visual aids," but it has caught on with everyone who uses the Net and there are now Web pages devoted to every conceivable and inconceivable subject.

What is a Web page? A Web site? A home page?

A "Web page" is a single stream of data which is sent over the Internet and appears on your screen as text and graphics. A Web page can be short or very long, requiring you to scroll through many screens to see it all.

A "Web site" is a collection of Web pages, usually stored on a single computer and assembled for a particular purpose. This page is part of the PhoneTech Web site.

A "home page" is usually the first page you see in a Web site, from which you can jump to other pages in the same site. The term "home page" is also used to denote the page which first appears each time you run your Web browser program. This is also called your "start page."

Colon slash slash what? How do Web addresses work?

A typical Web address looks like this:


This is technically known as a URL (say "You Are El", not Earl), which stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Your humble Webmaster has seen URLs in newspapers and magazines, on television, on posters and T-shirts, on the boards of a hockey rink, and even worked into the design of a flower bed. You also hear them read over the radio. In short, they're everywhere.

URLs are part of the Domain Name System which is used to identify and locate resources on the Internet. You can get more detailed information on DNS, but we'll cover the basics here.

The http stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, and it identifies this URL as a Web page. It is followed by :// a standard sequence of characters which separates the protocol name from the site name. Current-generation Web browsers like Internet Explorer don't require you to type this part of the URL. For example, instead of http://www.phonetech.com, you can just use www.phonetech.com.

The http:// is followed by the "domain name." The various elements in a domain name are separated by the things we used to call "periods" but must now refer to as "dots." Most (but not all) World Wide Web domain names start with www. followed by the name of the organization, like phonetech. or whitehouse., followed by a classification like com (for a commercial site), gov (for a governmental site), or edu (for a school or college).

Sites outside the U.S. also include a country code which tells where the computer you are contacting is located (some sites in the U.S. end in "us," but most don't). Schools and colleges outside the U.S. include "ac" rather than "edu," followed by the country code. For example, the "il" in the domain name for Tel Aviv University (www.tau.ac.il/) tells you that the site is, in fact, located in Israel. You can view a list of these country codes on the Web.

Now that you're an PhoneTech subscriber, you can access any Web site URLs you come across in the media.

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