World Wide Web and Hypertext Overview and History
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The World Wide Web Today
While the rapid growth in the size of the Web is amazing, what is even more fascinating is its growth in scope. Since you are reading a Guide about networking, you are most likely a Web user, and familiar with the incredible array of different types of information you can find on the WWW today. Early hypertext systems were based on the use of only text documents; today the Web is a world of many media including pictures, sounds and movies. The term hypertext has in many contexts been replaced with the more generic hypermediafunctionally, if not officially.
The Web has also moved beyond simple document retrieval to providing a myriad of services. A Web site can serve much more than just documents, allowing users to run thousands of kinds of programs. This enables everything from online shopping to entertainment. Web sites are also blurring the lines between different types of applications, offering Web-based e-mail, Web-based Usenet access, bulletin boards and other interactive forums for discussion, and much more.
The Web has had an impact on both networking and society as a whole that even its most enthusiastic early fans could never have anticipated. In fact, the Web was the ultimate killer application for the Internet as a whole. In the early 1990s, big corporations viewed the Web as an amusing curiosity; by the end of the decade it was for many a business necessity. Millions of individuals and families discovered the wealth of information that was at their fingertips, and Internet access became for many another utility, like telephone service. In fact, the huge increase in Web traffic volume spawned the spending of billions of dollars on Internet infrastructure.
The dot-com collapse of the early 21st century took some of the wind out of the Web's sails. The incredible growth of the Web could not continue at its original pace, and has slowed somewhat. But the Web as a whole continues to expand and mature, and will likely be the most important information and service resource on the Internet for some time to come.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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