What is the World Wide Web (WWW)?

To understand the World Wide Web one must first grasp the concept of a unified, collective faction. Thus to understand we must first grasp what the Internet and cyberspace actually are. Cyberspace is the virtual universe that the Internet was created and is maintained in. The term was first coined in the mid-eighties by author and visionary William Gibson. His novel “Neuromancer” described the future as a great collective of computers and he called this future universe ‘cyberspace’. The Internet on the other hand survives in this cyberspace by having a central backbone, to which everything travels on. One might even liken the Internet and the World Wide Web to a human body, with its central nervous system radiating out in all directions and going to the different parts of the body (or in this case, computers). This new technology is making everyone change his or her way of thinking, but is that a good thing?

In the 1950\'s the U.S. Military was involved in the “Cold War” with the former U.S.S.R., and with the successful launch of the space shuttle sputnik, the Americans began to get frightened. The thought was “if the Soviets had the power to launch a ship into space then surely they could knock out the then existent computer that controlled the whole Department of Defense”. Thus ‘ARPANET’ (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was created. The backbone that would form the Internet was now in place with about four mainframes linked together so that if one system were knocked out the others would still function.

In 1990, ARPANET was disbanded and the first commercial provider came on the scene. Of course back then it was all text based and mostly from a ‘UNIX’ prompt, but still it was more of a framework than there had ever previously been. Then in 1991 CERN released a version of the World Wide Web that was very primitive, graphics based, and only involved around 130 web sites, but it was a start.

Over the years that followed up until present there has been an unstoppable web explosion. From its early beginning with 130 web sites it has increased to around three million web sites ‘on-line’ and still it is growing at an exponential rate. Some experts predict that the World Wide Web will reach a gridlock and come to a halt because of bandwidth problems within the next couple of years. Right now you can access the Internet by simply signing up with a service provider and installing a web browser, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer on your computer. Access can even be gained through hand held computers and cell phones now, though these are still in the early stages. And the World Wide Web is not limited to one way access only. Home based web serving is quickly becoming a popular way to promote businesses and personal interests.

The reason for this gross explosion and the direction of the World Wide Web is the following; it provides a new ground for advertising and a new media to work in. With streaming audio and video, Java and VRML, the web is the artist’s playground, with many companies that focus on web page design and development. A new term has recently been added to the vocabulary of the businesses on the World Wide Web, “dot-com”. The “dot-com” companies are based purely in this non-existent but extremely marketable place we call cyberspace.

The web is constantly growing, from its feeble beginnings to its full force shockwave and live webcasts. We have a technological explosion at our fingertips. We are presented with a new way of looking at our ‘global village’. This is the most useful tool mankind has ever built. It can be used to pass information on in quantities never before imagined, let alone created. Some point out that it is also the biggest invasion of privacy and that there is more ‘bad’ on the World Wide Web than good. But I think this is just a reflection of the state of the world, and now that it is infront of everyone, we can see the world for what it is and make it better.