WWW: World Wide Web

How the web and the internet are different

Map connected
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The term "World Wide Web" (WWW) refers to the collection of public websites connected to the internet worldwide, together with client devices such as computers and cell phones that access its content. For many years it has become known simply as "the web."

Origination and Early Development of the World Wide Web

Researcher Tim Berners-Lee led the development of the World Wide Web in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He helped build prototypes of the original core web technologies and coined the term "WWW." Websites and web browsing exploded in popularity during the mid-1990s and continue to be a key usage of the internet today

About Web Technologies

The WWW is just one of many applications of the internet and computer networks.

It's based on these three core technologies:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): HTML originally supported only text documents, but with enhancements during the 1990s grew capable of handling frames, style sheets and plugins for general purpose website content publishing.
  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): HTTP finally made it to version 2.0 after 20 years, indicative of how well the protocol accommodated the Web's growth.
  • Web servers and web browsers: The original Netscape has given way to many other browser applications, but the same concepts of client-server communication still apply.

Although some people use the two terms interchangeably, the web is built on top of the internet and is not the internet itself. Examples of popular applications of the internet separate from the web include

The World Wide Web Today

All major websites have adjusted their content design and development approach to accommodate the rapidly increasing fraction of the population accessing the web from small-screen phones instead of large screen desktop and laptop computers.

Privacy and anonymity on the internet are an increasingly important issue on the web as significant amounts of personal information including a person's search history and browsing patterns are routinely captured (often for targeted advertising purposes) along with some geolocation information. Anonymous web proxy services attempt to provide online users with an extra level of privacy by re-routing their browsing through third-party web servers.

Websites continue to be accessed by their domain names and extensions. While "dot-com" domains remain the most popular, numerous others can now be registered including ".info" and ".biz" domains.

Competition among web browsers continues to be strong as IE/Edge and Firefox continue to enjoy large followings, Google has established its Chrome browser as a market contender, and Apple continues to advance the Safari browser.

HTML5 re-established HTML as a modern web technology after having stagnated for many years. Similarly, the performance enhancements of HTTP/2 have ensured the protocol will remain viable for the foreseeable future.