Technology Tips

Dan Comden, DO-IT computer specialist

The overwhelming popularity of the World Wide Web, (also called W3, WWW, or just plain Web") has made it a topic filling recent newspapers and airwaves. As more people join the electronic community of the Internet they are discovering the wealth of information made available on Web pages around the world. In the old days" of Internet access, a significant amount of knowledge about gopher sites, USENET news readers, and e-mail discussion lists was key to accessing information. With movement of information to Web sites, the way in which we access information is greatly simplified in that we need only use a single program or interface rather than three or more.

So What the Heck is the World Wide Web?

The World Wide Web is a resource on the Internet that provides access to text, data, sound, video, images or any combination of these data forms (and more). Combining these features of multimedia allows for attractive presentation of material that is available with only a keystroke or click of the mouse. Central to the idea of Web-based information is the concept of hypertext. Most people who have used a computer are familiar with the concept of hypertext even if they aren't familiar with the term. Any time a person is reading information online and part of the text can be selected resulting in additional information, this is hypertext. Organizing information so that text items can lead from one to the next increases its accessibility and usability. Good examples of information that use the capabilities of the Web are a technical document containing links to maps when discussing weather patterns, and sound and video files linked to a document discussing historic space flights. The variety of information available on the Web is truly staggering both in the quantity as well as the quality of presentation.

YAAWN (Yet Another Acronym We kNow): HTML

Hypertext Markup Language, also called HTML, is the format of most information found on the Web. HTML embeds the formatting for the text within a document, allowing information to look as if it was created using a modern word processor. Simple HTML allows for codes that create boldface text, italics, different font sizes, and other formatting. Basic knowledge of HTML is key to creating information to be published on the Web. Just as software such as word processors are updated and revised, the codes that HTML employs to format and present information go through upgrades.


There are a number of viewers, also called browsers, that are used to access and read information on the World Wide Web. Common viewers include: Netscape Navigator, Mosaic, Lynx, and WebExplorer. There are other web browsers as well, some of which are proprietary to specific online service providers. For example, America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy all provide Web browsers as part of their Internet access services. When creating new web pages, it's important for web page developers to keep in mind that everyone might not use the same browser to access their information. With this in mind, it's a good idea to view your web pages using two or three of the most popular web viewers, including a browser that is not graphical in nature, such as Lynx.