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World Wide Web / A Guide To Cyberspace

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Archive-name: www/guide
Last-modifed: 10/93

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Entering the World-Wide Web:
A Guide to Cyberspace

By Kevin Hughes

Honolulu Community College
October 1993

(Note: this document was originally written in HTML, hence many relevant
links of graphics are omitted from the original)

Table of Contents
* What is the World-Wide Web?
* What is hypertext and hypermedia?
* What is the Internet?
* How was the Web created?
* How popular is the Web?
* What is Mosaic?
* What can Mosaic do?
* What is available on the Web?
* How does the Web work?
* What software is available?
* How can I get more information?
* General Web Information
* Information/Reports on Multimedia and Hypermedia
* Browsers Accessible by Telnet
* Obtaining Web Browsers and Servers
* Appendix A: A Hypermedia Timeline
* Appendix B: Interesting Places on the Web
* Appendix C: The World is Talking to Itself - Why Not Join in the
* About the Author
* Index/Glossary

What is the World-Wide Web?

For fifty years, people have dreamt of the concept of a universal
information database - data that would not only be accessible to people
around the world, but information that would link easily to other pieces of
information so that only the most important data would be quickly found by
a user. It was in the 1960's when this idea was explored further, giving
rise to visions of a "docuverse" that people could swim through,
revolutionizing all aspects of human-information interaction, particularly
in the educational field. Only now has the technology caught up with these
dreams, making it possible to implement them on a global scale.

The official description describes the World-Wide Web as a "wide-area
hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access
to a large universe of documents". What the World-Wide Web (WWW, W3)
project has done is provide users on computer networks with a consistent
means to access a variety of media in a simplified fashion. Using a popular
software interface to the Web called Mosaic, the Web project has changed
the way people view and create information - it has created the first true
global hypermedia network.

What is hypertext and hypermedia?

The operation of the Web relies on hypertext as its means of interacting
with users. Hypertext is basically the same as regular text - it can be
stored, read, searched, or edited - with an important exception: hypertext
contains connections within the text to other documents.

For instance, suppose you were able to somehow select (with a mouse or with
your finger) the word "hypertext" in the sentence before this one. In a
hypertext system, you would then have one or more documents related to
hypertext appear before you - a history of hypertext, for example, or the
Webster's definition of hypertext. These new texts would themselves have
links and connections to other documents - continually selecting text would
take you on a free-associative tour of information. In this way, hypertext
links, called hyperlinks, can create a complex virtual web of connections.

Hypermedia is hypertext with a difference - hypermedia documents contain
links not only to other pieces of text, but also to other forms of media -
sounds, images, and movies. Images themselves can be selected to link to
sounds or documents. Here are some simple examples of hypermedia:

* You are reading a text on the Hawaiian language. You select a Hawaiian
phrase, then hear the phrase as spoken in the native tongue.

* You are a law student studying the Hawaii Revised Statutes. By selecting
a passage, you find precedents from a 1920 Supreme Court ruling stored at
Cornell. Cross-referenced hyperlinks allow you to view any one of 520
related cases with audio annotations.

* Looking at a company's floorplan, you are able to select an office by
touching a room. The employee's name and picture appears with a list of
their current projects.

* You are a scientist doing work on the cooling of steel springs. By
selecting text in a research paper, you are able to view a
computer-generated movie of a cooling spring. By selecting a button you are
able to receive a program which will perform thermodynamic calculations.

* A student reading a digital version of an art magazine can select a work
to print or display in full. If the piece is a sculpture, she can request
to see a movie of the sculpture rotating. By interactively controlling the
movie, she can zoom in to see more detail.

The Web, although still in its early years, allows many of these examples
to work in real life. It facilitates the easy exchange of hypermedia
through networked environments from anything as small as two Macintoshes
connected together to something as large as the global Internet.

What is the Internet?

The Internet is the catch-all word used to describe the massive world-wide
network of computers. The word "internet" literally means "network of
networks". In itself, the Internet is comprised of thousands of smaller
regional networks scattered throughout the globe. On any given day it
connects roughly 15 million users in over 50 countries. The World-Wide Web
is mostly used on the Internet; they do not mean the same thing. The Web
refers to a body of information - an abstract space of knowledge, while the
Internet refers to the physical side of the global network, a giant mass of
cables and computers.

How was the Web created?

The Web began in March 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee of CERN (a collective of
European high-energy physics researchers) proposed the project to be used
as a means of transporting research and ideas effectively throughout the
organization. Effective communications was a goal of CERNs for many years,
as its members were located in a number of countries.

How popular is the Web?

From January to August 1993, the amount of network traffic (in bytes)
across the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) North American network
attributed to Web use multiplied by 414 times. The Web is now ranked 13th
of all network services in terms of sheer byte traffic. In January its rank
was 127. Today there are at least 100 hypertext Web servers in use
throughout the world. Since its inception, the CERN Web server traffic has
doubled every four months - twice the rate of Internet expansion.

World-Wide Web growth.

Statistics available by FTP from

Honolulu Community College officially announced their opening of their
hypermedia server - the first Web server in Hawaii - at the end of May
1993. By September of that year (after 105 days of service), they had
received over 23,000 requests for documents and over 112,000 requests for
assets from nearly 5,000 separate hosts on the network. From September 1 to
7 they received traffic from over 600 separate hosts, an all-time high. It
is expected that traffic will increase further as the school year begins
and student involvement in the Web increases.

Since the site's opening, HCC has received virtual visitors from Xerox,
Digital Equipment Corporation, Apple Computer, Cray, IBM, MIT's Media Lab,
NEC, Sony, Fujitsu, Intel, Rockwell, Boeing, Honeywell, and AT&ampT (which
has been one of the most frequent visitors), among hundreds of other
corporate sites on the Internet.

Collegiate visitors have originated from campuses such as Stanford,
Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, Cornell, MIT, Michigan State, Rutgers, Purdue,
Rice, Georgia Tech, Columbia, University of Texas, and Washington
University, as well as other campuses in the United Kingdom, Germany, and
Denmark, to name but a few.

Governmental visitors have come from various departments in NASA, including
their Jet Propulsion Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratories, the National Institute of Health, the Superconducting
Supercollider project, and the USDA, as well as government sites in
Singapore and Australia. A few dozen Army and Navy sites throughout the
world have browsed around as well.

Because HCC's server began operation when there were relatively few such
sites in the world, and in part due to its popularity, the growth in
traffic has closely reflected the growth of the Web. Further analysis of
HCC's server logs indicate the following breakdown in classifications:

Although it is impossible to know for sure, it can be guessed that the
largest segment roaming the World-Wide Web consists of four-year campus
populations within the United States.

What is Mosaic?

Months after CERN's original proposal, the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) began a project to create an interface
to the World-Wide Web. One of NCSA's missions is to aid the scientific
research community by producing widely available, non-commercial software.
Another of its goals is to investigate new research technologies in the
hope that commercial interests will be able to profit from them. In these
ways, the Web project was quite appropriate. The NCSA's Software Design
Group began work on a versatile, multi-platform interface to the World-Wide
Web, and called it Mosaic.

In the first half of 1993, the first version of NCSA's Web browser was made
available to the Internet community. Because earlier beta versions were
distributed, Mosaic had developed a strong yet small following by the time
it was officially released.

Because of the number of traditional services it could handle, and due to
its easy, point-and-click hypermedia interface, Mosaic soon became the most
popular interface to the Web. Currently versions of Mosaic can run on Suns,
Silicon Graphics workstations, IBM-compatibles running Microsoft Windows,
Macintoshes, and computers running other various forms of UNIX.

NCSA's Mosaic for X windows.

What can Mosaic do?

Mosaic running on every supported computer should have the following features:

* A consistent mouse-driven graphical interface.
* The ability to display hypertext and hypermedia documents.
* The ability to display electronic text in a variety of fonts.
* The ability to display text in bold, italic, or strikethrough styles.
* The ability to display layout elements such as paragraphs, lists,
numbered and bulleted lists, and quoted paragraphs.
* Support for sounds (Macintosh, Sun audio format, and others).
* Support for movies (MPEG-1 and QuickTime).
* The ability to display characters as defined in the ISO 8859 set (it can
display languages such as French, German, and Hawaiian).
* Interactive electronic forms support, with a variety of basic forms
elements, such as fields, check boxes, and radio buttons.
* Support for interactive graphics (in GIF or XBM format) of up to 256
colors within documents.
* The ability to make basic hypermedia links to and support for the
following network services: ftp, gopher, telnet, nntp, WAIS.
* The ability to extend its functionality by creating custom servers
(comparable to XCMDs in HyperCard).
* The ability to have other applications control its display remotely.
* The ability to broadcast its contents to a network of users running
multiplatform groupware such as NCSA's Collage.
* Support for the current standards of HTTP and HTML.
* The ability to keep a history of travelled hyperlinks.
* The ability to store a list and retrieve a list of URLs for future use.

What is available on the Web?

Currently the Web offers the following through a hypertext, and in some
cases, hypermedia interface:

* Anything served through Gopher
* Anything served through WAIS (Wide-Area Information Service)
* Anything served through anonymous FTP sites
* Full Archie services (a FTP search service)
* Full Veronica services (a Gopher search service)
* Full CSO, X.500, and whois services (Internet phone book services)
* Full finger services (an Internet user lookup program)
* Any library system using PALS (a library database standard)
* Anything on Usenet
* Anything accessible through telnet
* Anything in hytelnet (a hypertext interface to telnet)
* Anything in techinfo or texinfo (forms of campus-wide information services)
* Anything in hyper-g (a networked hypertext system in use throughout Europe)
* Anything in the form of man pages
* HTML-formatted hypertext and hypermedia documents

How does the Web work?

The Web works under the popular client-server model. A Web server is a
program running on a computer whose only purpose is to serve documents to
other computers when asked to. A Web client is a program that interfaces
with the user and requests documents from a server as the user asks for
them. Because the server does a minimal amount of work (it does not perform
any calculations) and only operates when a document is requested, it puts a
minimal amount of workload on the computer running it.

Here's an example of how the process works:

1. Running a Web client (also called a browser), the user selects a piece
of hypertext connected to another text - "The History of Computers".
2. The Web client connects to a computer specified by a network address
somewhere on the Internet and asks that computers Web server for "The
History of Computers".
3. The server responds by sending the text and any other media within that
text (pictures, sounds, or movies) to the users screen.
The World-Wide Web is composed of thousands of these virtual transactions
taking place per hour throughout the world, creating a web of information

Future Web servers will include encryption and client authentication
abilities - they will be able to send and receive secure data and be more
selective as to which clients receive information. This will allow freer
communications among Web users and will make sure that sensitive data is
kept private. It will be harder to compromise the security of commercial
servers and educational servers which wish to keep information local.
Improvements in security will facilitate the idea of "pay-per-view"
hypermedia, a concept which many commercial interests are currently

The language that Web clients and servers use to communicate with each
other is called the HyperText Transmission Protocol (HTTP). All Web clients
and servers must be able to speak HTTP in order to send and receive
hypermedia documents. For this reason, Web servers are often called HTTP

The phrase "World-Wide Web" is often used to refer to the collective
network of servers speaking HTTP as well as the global body of information
available using the protocol.

The standard language the Web uses for creating and recognizing hypermedia
documents is the HyperText Markup Language (HTML). It is loosely related
to, but technically not a subset of, the Standard Generalized Markup
Language (SGML), a document formatting language used widely in some
computing circles.

HTML is widely praised for its ease of use. Web documents are typically
written in HTML and are usually named with the suffix ".html". HTML
documents are nothing more than standard 7-bit ASCII files with formatting
codes that contain information about layout (text styles, document titles,
paragraphs, lists) and hyperlinks. Many free software convertors are
available for translating documents in foreign formats to HTML.

The current HTML standard (HTML) supports basic hypermedia document
creation and layout, but for current use it is still limited. The latest
version of HTML, called HTML+, is still under development but will probably
be completely defined by the end of 1993. HTML+ will support interactive
forms, defined "hotspots" in images, more versatile layout and formatting
options and styles, and formatted tables, among many other improvements.

HTML uses what are called Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) to represent
hypermedia links and links to network services within documents. It is
possible to represent nearly any file or service on the Internet with a

The first part of the URL (before the two slashes) specifies the method of
access. The second is typically the address of the computer the data or
service is located. Further parts may specify the names of files, the port
to connect to, or the text to search for in a database.

Here are some examples of URLs:

* file:// - Retrieves a sound file and plays it.
* file:// - Retrieves a picture and
displays it, either in a separate program or within a hypermedia document.
* file:// - Displays a directorys contents.
* - Connects to an HTTP
server and retrieves an HTML file.
* - Opens an FTP connection to and retrieves a text file.
* gopher:// - Connects to the Gopher at
* telnet:// - Telnets to at
port 1234.
* news:alt.hypertext - Reads the latest Usenet news by connecting to a
user-specified news (NNTP) host and returns the articles in hypermedia
Most Web browsers allow the user to specify a URL and connect to that
document or service. When selecting hypertext in an HTML document, the user
is actually sending a request to open a URL. In this way, hyperlinks can be
made not only to other texts and media, but also to other network services.
Web browsers are not simply Web clients, but are also full-featured FTP,
Gopher, and telnet clients.

HTML+ will include an email URL, so hyperlinks can be made to send email
automatically. For instance, selecting an email address in a piece of
hypertext would open a mail program, ready to send email to that address.

What software is available?

World-Wide Web clients (browsers) are available for the following platforms
and environments:

* Text-only (dumb) terminal, nearly any platform
* UNIX, text-only using curses, for SunOS 4, AIX, Alpha, Ultrix
* X11/Motif, for IRIX (Silicon Graphics), SunOS 4, RS/6000, DEC Alpha/OSF
1, DEC Ultrix.
* NeXT, for NeXTStep 3.0
* IBM compatibles, 386 and above, under Microsoft Windows
* Macintosh computers, Classic and above
* Browsers written in perl are available.
* Browsers written for the emacs environment are available.

World-Wide Web servers are available for the following platforms and

* Perl
* Macintosh

For details on how to obtain Web client and server software, refer to the
section "How can I get more information?"

How can I get more information?

Most of this information is available on the Internet. In order to access
resources specified by in URL format, you may need to use a Web browser or
connect to a telnet site that provides a public-access browser.

General Web Information

Main CERN World-Wide Web page

Main NCSA Mosaic page

Information on WWW

The World-Wide Web FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file
                by Nathan Torkington

A list of World-Wide Web clients at CERN

The "official" list of World-Wide Web servers at CERN

World-Wide Web newsgroup

World-Wide Web mailing lists
                For general discussion:
                send email to, with "add
www-announce" as the body.
                For developers and technical discussion:
                send email to, with "add www-talk" as
the body.

How to write HTML

How to write Web gateways and servers

HTML official specifications

HTML convertors
                mail2html, converts electronic mailboxes to HTML documents
                Word Perfect 5.1 to HTML convertor
                rtf2html, converts Rich Text Format (RTF) documents to HTML
                latex2html, converts LaTeX documents to HTML

HTML+ Document Type Definition (DTD)

Information/Reports on Multimedia and Hypermedia

Index to multimedia resources

"Network Access to Multimedia Information", June 1993
                ftp, in directory /pub/mmaccess
                This report summarizes the requirements of academic and
research users for network access to multimedia information.

"Computer Supported Cooperative Work Report", July 1993
                ftp, in directory /pub/groupware
                This is a comprehensive list of all known collaborative
software packages and projects currently in use or under development.

"Hypermedia and Higher Education", April 1993
                gopher, the /digests/IPCT menu.
                IPCT, Interpersonal Computing and Technology, is an
excellent journal exploring the boundaries of education and high

alt.hypertext Frequently Asked Questions list
                gopher, on many other Gophers.
                This list contains dozens of pointers to mailing lists, people,
Internet sites, groups, books, periodicals, bibliographies, and software
related to hypertext.

Browsers Accessible by Telnet

A comprehensive list of telnet-accessible clients
                The simplest line mode browser.
                A full screen browser "Lynx" which requires a vt100
terminal. Log in as "www".
                Log in as "www". A full-screen browser.
                Log in as "www". A line-mode browser.
telnet sun.uakom.cs
                Slovakia. Has a slow link, use from nearby.
                Hungary. Has slow link, use from nearby. Login as "www".

Obtaining Web Browsers and Servers

(Note:  Web Browsers running on a PC should probably be on a dedicated
connection to the Internet, or, at worst, a fast (9600-14,400 baud) SLIP

ftp, in directory /PC/Mosaic/
                Full color, hypermedia WWW browser.
ftp, in directory /Mac/Mosaic/NCSAMosaicMac.103.sit.hqx
                Full color, hypermedia WWW browser
ftp, in directory /pub/www
                Simple text-only browser, as well as the CERN HTTP server.
ftp, in directory /pub
                Distribution for Lynx, a line-mode curses-based browser.
ftp, in directory /Mosaic
                Mosaic distribution, as well as the NCSA HTTP server.
ftp in directory /public/Mac
                Macintosh server.
ftp, in directory /pub/LII/cello
                Browser for Microsoft Windows.

About the Author

For the last two years Kevin Hughes has been working as a student systems
programmer with Dr. Ken Hensarling, Honolulu Community College's Director
of Academic Computing. He designed and implemented HCC's World-Wide Web
site and is currently doing freelance graphics and programming work for
various companies and organizations in Hawaii. He can be reached through
the Internet as


                A network service that searches FTP sites for files.
                Software that provides an interface to the World-Wide Web.
                The European collective of high-energy physics researchers
(European Organization for Nuclear Research).
                A computer or program requests a service of another
computer or program.
client-server model
                A structure in which programs use and provide distributed
                Collaborative (shared whiteboard) software developed by the
                Central Services Organization. A service which facilitates
user and address lookup in databases.
Doug Engelbart
                The inventor of many common devices and ideas used in
computing today, including the mouse.
                A service that responds to queries and retrieves user
information remotely.
                File Transfer Protocol. A common method of transferring
files across networks.
                A versatile menu-driven information service.
Honolulu Community College
                The latest version of HTML.
                A distributed hypertext system mostly popular in Europe.
                A personal hypermedia/multimedia creation system for use on
Apple Computers.
                Connections between hypermedia or hypertext documents and
other media.
                Hypertext that includes or links to other forms of media.
                Text that, when selected, has the ability to present
connected documents.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
                The standard language used for creating hypermedia
documents within the World-Wide Web.
HyperText Transmission Protocol (HTTP)
                The standard language that World-Wide Web clients and
servers use to communicate.
                A hypertext interface to telnet.
                The global collective of computer networks.
                A mouse-driven interface to the World-Wide Web developed by
the NCSA.
National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
                A federally-funded organization whose mission is to develop
and research high-technology resources for the scientific community.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
                A federally-funded organization that manages the NSFnet,
which connects every major research institution and campus in the United
                News Network Transfer Protocol. A common method by which
articles over Usenet are transferred.
                A standard library database interface.
                A program which provides a service to other client programs.
                Standard Generalized Markup Language. A generic language
for representing documents.
Software Design Group
                The group within NCSA that is responsible for designing
computer applications.
                A common campus-wide information system developed at MIT.
Ted Nelson
                The inventor of many common ideas related to hypertext,
including the word "hypertext" itself.
                A program which allows users to remotely use computers
across networks.
                A common campus-wide information system.
Tim Berners-Lee
                The inventor of the World-Wide Web.
Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)
                Standardized formatted entities within HTML documents which
specify a network service or document to link to.
                The global news-reading network.
Vannevar Bush
                Originator of the concept of hypertext.
                A network service that allows users to search Gopher
systems for documents.
                Wide-Area Information Service. A service which allows users
to intelligently search for information among databases distributed
throughout the Internet.
                A name lookup service.
World-Wide Web
                The initiative to create a universal, hypermedia-based
method of access to information. Also used to refer to the Internet.
                A standard which defines electronic mail directory
services. Mostly used in Europe.

Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee for a better definition of the Web!

Fifth Edition: October 9, 1993

The opinions stated in this document are solely those of the author and in
no way represent the views of the University of Hawaii or Honolulu
Community College.

This document is Copyright (c) 1993 by Kevin Hughes. It may be freely
distributed in any format as long as this disclaimer is included and the
textual contents are not altered. Copies of this document can be obtained
by contacting Ken Hensarling at (808) 845-9291.

Note: This hypermedia document will be updated semi-regularly and is
subject to change. Copies in many different formats for distribution and
printing are available.

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