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What Exactly Is The World Wide Web?

So there you are in Valley City, North Dakota, it’s morning and you want to check the news. So you power up your laptop, open up an internet browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox, and perhaps go to CNN news.

Well, you’ve just used the World Wide Web, a term you are probably familiar with, but what exactly is the World Wide Web?

It all began with scientists

Initially, the world wide web began with scientists at CERN, a major scientific center in Geneva, Switzerland.

Understand that the World Wide Web and the Internet are not synonymous. Though both were initially invented by scientists, the internet is all of the cables and computer servers worldwide that provide the backbone of the internet.

However, in the 1990s, a CERN contractor named Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues developed HTTP, a hypertext language that allowed ordinary users, not just scientists and computer geeks, to easily access all of the information on the internet.

HTTP was a remarkably simple computer language that made the internet easily accessible to everyone. Before that, computer users had to use arcane, and fairly difficult to use and learn systems such as DOS.

From HTTP to Browsers

After HTTP was developed, computer browsers were the next step. First came Mosaic, then Netscape, and then Microsoft’s internet explorer.

What a computer browser does, is decodes all the HTTP and display it into language and images easily understood by the average computer user can understand.

HTTP has gone through a number of different levels but essentially there are codes for the language in different sizes, such as H1 or H2, for headlines, and smaller types as well.

Images can not only be displayed and shared, but their HTTP code will determine the height and width of an image.

One of the most useful of all HTTP codes is a hyperlink. Usually highlighted in blue, (although the color may vary according to the code) when you hover your mouse over a hyperlink or point at it with a tablet or smartphone, a hyperlink will take you to a different destination.

Usually, that destination will be to another document although hyperlinks can also be used to take a user to a different section of the same document.

Thus hyperlinks are a very useful part of the World Wide Web.

Organization

As the popularity of the World Wide Web Exploded, web scientists such as Tim Berners-Lee saw the need for governance of the World Wide Web, and thus the World Wide Web Consortium was developed, which presently consists of 444 members to establish protocols for the World Wide Web.

For example, if the World Wide Web Consortium recommends that certain HTTP protocols are added or adopted and others are phased out or eliminated, most commercial Web Browsers follow suit.

Domain Names

Another critical aspect of the World Wide Web is that it was built on top of domain named servers that would turn computer addresses such as Google from 64.233.160.0 into domain name addresses such as Google.com.

Before 1998, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was formed if a company wanted a domain name they contacted a single individual named John Postel who assigned the name at his pleasure.

As there are now currently over 1 billion internet sites, it’s no wonder that ICANN also became a big player in managing and controlling the worldwide web.

Not only does ICANN approve and track URL’s but they also serve as a referee against squatters.

For example, if Microsoft.com or some other major company let their URL lapse, and someone else, maybe Michael Cink in Valley City managed to snag it, they would quickly give it back to Microsoft.

And if some obscure rapper suddenly became the next big thing in music but never had a website, ICANN can prevent a squatter from obtaining a domain that has nothing to do with the singer or star.