What is the World-Wide Web?

What is the World-Wide Web?
   There are now over two million registered computers on the 
   Internet providing a huge amount of information. Fortunately, 
   the access to these often widely dispersed data has been 
   facilitated by the development of network information 
   delivery systems such as Gopher and the World-Wide Web (WWW, 
   W3). These interactively working network tools are based on 
   the client-server model: The user runs locally a client 
   program that can communicate with a server program on a 
   (remote) host computer. In order to access the information, 
   the client sends the user's request to the server (using a 
   standardized format called a protocol). The server handles 
   the request and sends the response to the user.

   The Gopher project was developed at the University of 
   Minnesota and has now evolved in a powerful system for 
   offering information across the net. The information appears 
   to the user as a series of nested menus, resembling the 
   organization of a file system.

   The World-Wide Web has been described as a "wide-area 
   hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give 
   universal access to a large universe of documents". It was 
   invented at the European Centre of Particle Physics (CERN), 
   Switzerland. Basically WWW and Gopher are similar: Both 
   systems allow the user to browse information across the 
   Internet without the necessity to login. However, WWW is much 
   more powerful and flexible than Gopher. Whereas a Gopher menu 
   is a list of items, WWW appears to the user as a text 
   document and can take - provided that the user runs a 
   graphical interfaces such as NCSA Mosaic - full advantage of 
   text formatting. WWW documents are written in hypertext (text 
   that contains links to other text). Selecting certain words 
   within a WWW document via mouse or keyboard causes other 
   documents to be opened, no matter where on the Internet these 
   documents are. In addition, WWW documents can contain links
   not only to other text, but also to images, sounds and movies.

   The WWW world is growing very fast. There are already more 
   than 200 WWW servers on the Internet providing a large amount 
   of information, not accessible by other network tools. 
   Moreover, WWW provides a single consistent user-interface to 
   access information of other services such as Gopher, FTP, and 
   News. Not surprisingly, the programs (called WWW clients) 
   that allow to access these data are in use at hundreds, if 
   not thousands, of sites on the Internet today. An overview of 
   currently available WWW client software will be given in part 
   5 of this series of postings.