The Difference between the World Wide Web and the Internet
People now talk about the Web more than they talk about the Internet. The World Wide Web and the Internet are not the same thing — the World Wide Web (which we call the Web because we’re lazy typists) lives “on top of” the Internet. The Internet’s network is at the core of the Web, and the Web is like an attractive parasite that requires the Net for survival.
The Web is a bunch of “pages” of information connected to each other around the globe. Each page can be a combination of text, pictures, audio clips, video clips, animations, and other stuff. (People add new types of other stuff every day.) What makes Web pages interesting is that they contain hyperlinks, usually called just links because the Net already has plenty of hype. Each link points to another Web page, and, when you click a link, your browser fetches the page the link connects to. (Your browser is the program that shows you the Web.)
The other important characteristic of the Web is that you can search it — all ten billion or so pages. For example, in about ten seconds, you can get a list of Web pages that contain the phrase domestic poultry or your own name or the name of a book you want to find out about. You can follow links to see each page on the list to find the information you want.
Each page your browser gets for you can have more links that take you to other places. Pages can be linked to other pages anywhere in the world so that when you’re on the Web, you can end up looking at pages from Singapore to Calgary, or from Sydney to Buenos Aires, all faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle,” usually. Most of the time, you’re only seconds away from any site, anywhere in the world. This system of interlinked documents is known as hypertext.
Links can create connections that let you go directly to related information. These invisible connections between pages are like the threads of a spider web — as you click from Web page to Web page, you can envision the Web created by the links. What’s so remarkable about the Web is that it connects pieces of information from all around the planet, on different computers and in different databases (a feat you would be hard pressed to match with a card catalog in a brick-and-mortar library).
Every Web page has a name attached to it so that browsers, and you, can find it. The name of this naming convention: URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. Every Web page has a URL, a series of characters that begins with http://. (Pronounce each letter, “U-R-L” — no one says “earl.”)