THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Beginning 1989 AD
|This world wide web logo was designed by Robert Cailliau, who also developed the world wide web with Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Credit: Image by Hell Pé and Bibi Saint-Pol, courtesy of Wikipedia
Imagine a magic carpet (or the modern metaphor, a magic surfboard) that allows you to travel all over the world, visit with anybody you want, and gather almost any conceivable type of information that you wish. In a very real sense, this is what the Internet and the World Wide Web has allowed. Information is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Information is power.
With the rise of powerful personal computers, improved electronic connections such as fiber optics and wireless communication, and powerful software programs, it became possible to be part of a massive system of connectivity almost everywhere on the globe. The internet came into being in the 1990’s. Few people had previously predicted the power, utility, or widespread use of this phenomenon. All you needed was a personal computer, internet access (either wired or wireless), and the knowledge of how to navigate the system. Search “engines” such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, or Ask greatly enhance the mining of the web, as they help locate information available. Nowadays whole schools of Informatics have sprung up at colleges and universities all over the word to educate students on how to make the best use of the Internet and how to improve its effectiveness over time.
The World Wide Web allows people to keep in touch through email, blogs, and such social networking websites as Myspace and Facebook; to join in discussions with people anywhere in the world in chat rooms and blogs; and to share photos, videos, or other kinds of attachments; and to send documents as pdf’s that can be downloaded or printed out on the other end. You can download music, cooking recipes, maps and directions to specific places, and government documents. You can read your newspaper or favorite magazine without having hard copy. You can even take college courses and get a degree online.
The Internet allows you to shop online and examine consumer reports of product quality and durability. The internet is a shopper’s paradise – businesses selling directly to the consumer, individuals offering goods through eBay or other outlets, and shopper’s buying items with a simple click through Amazon.com or an ever-growing number of retailers doing eCommerce. You can examine satellite images of the surface of the entire earth, then zoom in on a small area and change the angle of view, from vertical to oblique to horizontal. With the use of a Blackberry or Palm Pilot, you can carry a personal computer in your pocket and surf the internet with the touch of a button. Interestingly, the Internet is making it very difficult for governments to suppress information from the outside world, making it harder for totalitarian regimes to control what their people know and whom they have contact with.
INTERNET or NET: (originally INTERNETWORK) A term coined in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Defense for their linked computer networks, now used today for all linked computer networks.
WORLD WIDE WEB or WEB: A term coined in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee at the nuclear research facility CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) for a system of linked text documents that could be accessed through the Internet. Such a system was available to the general public in 1992.
SURFING: From “channel surfing” with remote controllers for televisions, applied to rapid searching on the Internet in the 1990’s.
BLOG: A contraction of “Weblog”, a term coined by Jorn Barger in 1997 for a website, usually made by an individual, to include opinion, commentary, and often visuals or video footage. Peter Merholz jokingly used the moniker “We Blog” in 1999, and the term “Blog” stuck.
HACKER: This term is used for malicious people who try to break into (“hack”) or disrupt computer security (sometimes called “Black Hat Hackers”), or for programmers that develop shared, free software or for people who break into protected computer systems without harmful intentions (“White Hat Hackers”.) The first widespread use of the term was in a Newsweek article in 1971 entitled “Hackers at Play”.
GOOGLE: The term “googol” was coined by mathematician Edward Kasner in 1938 for a very, very big number (he had asked his 9-year-old nephew for a word, and he suggested “googol”, probably based on the cartoon character Barney Google). Today it often refers to a number larger than the number of elementary particles in the universe (sometimes a 1 followed by 100 zeros).
In 1998 Stanford graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin established a search engine for the rapid access of all sorts of information which they named “Google,” a misspelling of the word “googol”.
TWITTER: This is an internet-based social networking service that allows users to send and receive short posts of up to 140 characters, which may be referred to as “tweets.” These may be simple text posts, or posts that include hashtags, words or phrases that include a “#” sign.
YOUTUBE: This is a video-sharing website that allows users to upload, share, and view videos of up to 10 minutes in length.
FACEBOOK: This is also a social networking service, but allows users to create, share and view pages that contain personal information, such as interests, friends, photos, and videos.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
The internet has enabled us to access information and stay in touch with people from all over the world in a matter of seconds. It is almost certainly one of the most important revolutions in communications since the invention of writing. Those of us who are not proficient in using the Internet are at a distinct disadvantage in modern society. Many schools, community centers, libraries, and colleges offer courses in using the Internet, some specifically designed for people with no computer experience, so it is never too late to start!
This is a basic introduction to the web and how it works.
This Wikipedia article is about the World Wide Web.
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