for paragraph, and such) that surrounds the words to format the text on the screen. Many web pages use HTML to reference the URLs of other resources such as images, other embedded media, scripts that affect page behavior, and Cascading Style Sheets that affect page layout. The browser makes additional HTTP requests to the web server for these other Internet media types. As it receives their content from the web server, the browser progressively renders the page onto the screen as specified by its HTML and these additional resources.
Most web pages contain hyperlinks to other related pages and perhaps to downloadable files, source documents, definitions and other web resources. In the underlying HTML, a hyperlink looks like this: Example.org Homepage
Such a collection of useful, related resources, interconnected via hypertext links is dubbed a web of information. Publication on the Internet created what Tim Berners-Lee first called the WorldWideWeb (in its original CamelCase, which was subsequently discarded) in November 1990.
The hyperlink structure of the WWW is described by the webgraph: the nodes of the web graph correspond to the web pages (or URLs) the directed edges between them to the hyperlinks. Over time, many web resources pointed to by hyperlinks disappear, relocate, or are replaced with different content. This makes hyperlinks obsolete, a phenomenon referred to in some circles as link rot, and the hyperlinks affected by it are often called dead links. The ephemeral nature of the Web has prompted many efforts to archive web sites. The Internet Archive, active since 1996, is the best known of such efforts.
Dynamic updates of web pages
Many hostnames used for the World Wide Web begin with www because of the long-standing practice of naming Internet hosts according to the services they provide. The hostname of a web server is often www, in the same way that it may be ftp for an FTP server, and news or nntp for a USENET news server. These host names appear as Domain Name System (DNS) or subdomain names, as in www.example.com. The use of www is not required by any technical or policy standard and many web sites do not use it; the first web server was nxoc01.cern.ch. According to Paolo Palazzi, who worked at CERN along with Tim Berners-Lee, the popular use of www as subdomain was accidental; the World Wide Web project page was intended to be published at www.cern.ch while info.cern.ch was intended to be the CERN home page, however the DNS records were never switched, and the practice of prepending www to an institution's website domain name was subsequently copied. Many established websites still use the prefix, or they employ other subdomain names such as www2, secure or en for special purposes. Many such web servers are set up so that both the main domain name (e.g., example.com) and the www subdomain (e.g., www.example.com) refer to the same site; others require one form or the other, or they may map to different web sites. The use of a subdomain name is useful for load balancing incoming web traffic by creating a CNAME record that points to a cluster of web servers. Since, currently, only a subdomain can be used in a CNAME, the same result cannot be achieved by using the bare domain root.
When a user submits an incomplete domain name to a web browser in its address bar input field, some web browsers automatically try adding the prefix "www" to the beginning of it and possibly ".com", ".org" and ".net" at the end, depending on what might be missing. For example, entering 'microsoft' may be transformed to http://www.microsoft.com/ and 'openoffice' to http://www.openoffice.org. This feature started appearing in early versions of Firefox, when it still had the working title 'Firebird' in early 2003, from an earlier practice in browsers such as Lynx. It is reported that Microsoft was granted a US patent for the same idea in 2008, but only for mobile devices.
In English, www is usually read as double-u double-u double-u. Some users pronounce it dub-dub-dub, particularly in New Zealand. Stephen Fry, in his "Podgrams" series of podcasts, pronounces it wuh wuh wuh. The English writer Douglas Adams once quipped in The Independent on Sunday (1999): "The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it's short for". In Mandarin Chinese, World Wide Web is commonly translated via a phono-semantic matching to wàn wéi wǎng (万维网), which satisfies www and literally means "myriad dimensional net", a translation that reflects the design concept and proliferation of the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee's web-space states that World Wide Web is officially spelled as three separate words, each capitalised, with no intervening hyphens. Use of the www prefix has been declining, especially when Web 2.0 web applications sought to brand their domain names and make them easily pronounceable. As the mobile Web grew in popularity, services like Gmail.com, Outlook.com, Myspace.com, Facebook.com and Twitter.com are most often mentioned without adding "www." (or, indeed, ".com") to the domain.
The scheme specifiers http:// and https:// at the start of a web URI refer to Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP Secure, respectively. They specify the communication protocol to use for the request and response. The HTTP protocol is fundamental to the operation of the World Wide Web, and the added encryption layer in HTTPS is essential when browsers send or retrieve confidential data, such as passwords or banking information. Web browsers usually automatically prepend http:// to user-entered URIs, if omitted.
Proposed solutions vary. Large security companies like McAfee already design governance and compliance suites to meet post-9/11 regulations, and some, like Finjan have recommended active real-time inspection of programming code and all content regardless of its source. Some have argued that for enterprises to see Web security as a business opportunity rather than a cost centre, while others call for "ubiquitous, always-on digital rights management" enforced in the infrastructure to replace the hundreds of companies that secure data and networks. Jonathan Zittrain has said users sharing responsibility for computing safety is far preferable to locking down the Internet.
Every time a client requests a web page, the server can identify the request's IP address and usually logs it. Also, unless set not to do so, most web browsers record requested web pages in a viewable history feature, and usually cache much of the content locally. Unless the server-browser communication uses HTTPS encryption, web requests and responses travel in plain text across the Internet and can be viewed, recorded, and cached by intermediate systems. When a web page asks for, and the user supplies, personally identifiable information—such as their real name, address, e-mail address, etc.—web-based entities can associate current web traffic with that individual. If the website uses HTTP cookies, username and password authentication, or other tracking techniques, it can relate other web visits, before and after, to the identifiable information provided. In this way it is possible for a web-based organization to develop and build a profile of the individual people who use its site or sites. It may be able to build a record for an individual that includes information about their leisure activities, their shopping interests, their profession, and other aspects of their demographic profile. These profiles are obviously of potential interest to marketeers, advertisers and others. Depending on the website's terms and conditions and the local laws that apply information from these profiles may be sold, shared, or passed to other organizations without the user being informed. For many ordinary people, this means little more than some unexpected e-mails in their in-box or some uncannily relevant advertising on a future web page. For others, it can mean that time spent indulging an unusual interest can result in a deluge of further targeted marketing that may be unwelcome. Law enforcement, counter terrorism, and espionage agencies can also identify, target and track individuals based on their interests or proclivities on the Web.
Social networking sites try to get users to use their real names, interests, and locations, rather than pseudonyms. These website's leaders believe this makes the social networking experience more engaging for users. On the other hand, uploaded photographs or unguarded statements can be identified to an individual, who may regret this exposure. Employers, schools, parents, and other relatives may be influenced by aspects of social networking profiles, such as text posts or digital photos, that the posting individual did not intend for these audiences. On-line bullies may make use of personal information to harass or stalk users. Modern social networking websites allow fine grained control of the privacy settings for each individual posting, but these can be complex and not easy to find or use, especially for beginners. Photographs and videos posted onto websites have caused particular problems, as they can add a person's face to an on-line profile. With modern and potential facial recognition technology, it may then be possible to relate that face with other, previously anonymous, images, events and scenarios that have been imaged elsewhere. Because of image caching, mirroring and copying, it is difficult to remove an image from the World Wide Web.
Many formal standards and other technical specifications and software define the operation of different aspects of the World Wide Web, the Internet, and computer information exchange. Many of the documents are the work of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), headed by Berners-Lee, but some are produced by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and other organisations.
Usually, when web standards are discussed, the following publications are seen as foundational:
Recommendations for markup languages, especially HTML and XHTML, from the W3C. These define the structure and interpretation of hypertext documents.
Recommendations for stylesheets, especially CSS, from the W3C.
Recommendations for the Document Object Model, from W3C.
Additional publications provide definitions of other essential technologies for the World Wide Web, including, but not limited to, the following:
Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), which is a universal system for referencing resources on the Internet, such as hypertext documents and images. URIs, often called URLs, are defined by the IETF's RFC 3986 / STD 66: Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax, as well as its predecessors and numerous URI scheme-defining RFCs;
HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), especially as defined by RFC 2616: HTTP/1.1 and RFC 2617: HTTP Authentication, which specify how the browser and server authenticate each other.
There are methods for accessing the Web in alternative mediums and formats to facilitate use by individuals with disabilities. These disabilities may be visual, auditory, physical, speech-related, cognitive, neurological, or some combination. Accessibility features also help people with temporary disabilities, like a broken arm, or ageing users as their abilities change. The Web receives information as well as providing information and interacting with society. The World Wide Web Consortium claims that it is essential that the Web be accessible, so it can provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. Tim Berners-Lee once noted, "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect." Many countries regulate web accessibility as a requirement for websites. International cooperation in the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative led to simple guidelines that web content authors as well as software developers can use to make the Web accessible to persons who may or may not be using assistive technology.
The W3C Internationalisation Activity assures that web technology works in all languages, scripts, and cultures. Beginning in 2004 or 2005, Unicode gained ground and eventually in December 2007 surpassed both ASCII and Western European as the Web's most frequently used character encoding. Originally RFC 3986 allowed resources to be identified by URI in a subset of US-ASCII. RFC 3987 allows more characters—any character in the Universal Character Set—and now a resource can be identified by IRI in any language.
Between 2005 and 2010, the number of web users doubled, and was expected to surpass two billion in 2010. Early studies in 1998 and 1999 estimating the size of the Web using capture/recapture methods showed that much of the web was not indexed by search engines and the Web was much larger than expected. According to a 2001 study, there was a massive number, over 550 billion, of documents on the Web, mostly in the invisible Web, or Deep Web. A 2002 survey of 2,024 million web pages determined that by far the most web content was in the English language: 56.4%; next were pages in German (7.7%), French (5.6%), and Japanese (4.9%). A more recent study, which used web searches in 75 different languages to sample the Web, determined that there were over 11.5 billion web pages in the publicly indexable web as of the end of January 2005. As of March 2009, the indexable web contains at least 25.21 billion pages. On 25 July 2008, Google software engineers Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj announced that Google Search had discovered one trillion unique URLs. As of May 2009, over 109.5 million domains operated. Of these, 74% were commercial or other domains operating in the generic top-level domain com. Statistics measuring a website's popularity, such as the Alexa Internet rankings, are usually based either on the number of page views or on associated server "hits" (file requests) that it receives.
Berners-Lee, Tim; Bray, Tim; Connolly, Dan; Cotton, Paul; Fielding, Roy; Jeckle, Mario; Lilley, Chris; Mendelsohn, Noah; Orchard, David; Walsh, Norman; Williams, Stuart (15 December 2004). "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One". Version 20041215. W3C.
Berners-Lee, Tim (August 1996). "The World Wide Web: Past, Present and Future".
Fielding, R.; Gettys, J.; Mogul, J.; Frystyk, H.; Masinter, L.; Leach, P.; Berners-Lee, T. (June 1999). "Hypertext Transfer Protocol – HTTP/1.1". Request For Comments 2616. Information Sciences Institute.
Niels Brügger, ed. Web History (2010) 362 pages; Historical perspective on the World Wide Web, including issues of culture, content, and preservation.
Polo, Luciano (2003). "World Wide Web Technology Architecture: A Conceptual Analysis". New Devices.
Skau, H.O. (March 1990). "The World Wide Web and Health Information". New Devices.
The first website
Early archive of the first Web site
Internet Statistics: Growth and Usage of the Web and the Internet
Living Internet A comprehensive history of the Internet, including the World Wide Web
Web Design and Development at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
W3C Recommendations Reduce "World Wide Wait"
World Wide Web Size Daily estimated size of the World Wide Web
Antonio A. Casilli, Some Elements for a Sociology of Online Interactions
The Erdős Webgraph Server offers weekly updated graph representation of a constantly increasing fraction of the WWW
The 25th Anniversary of the World Wide Web is an animated video produced by USAID and TechChange which explores the role of the WWW in addressing extreme poverty