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Structure of the Web

The Internet is a vast communication network that allows computers across the world to connect with one another and share information. Information travels from one computer on the Internet to another through a variety of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies such as phone lines and fiber optic cables.

The Internet's original purpose was to help professors and researchers share information regardless of location. It has since grown to include people, organizations, and companies all over the planet. In fact, no single group is in charge of the Internet.

Many people think of the World Wide Web, often shortened to just the Web, as synonymous with the Internet. But they are not the same thing. The Web is just one component, albeit a very large component, of the Internet. Other components include email, instant messaging and ftp. 

The Web actually refers to a specific way of accessing and sharing information over the Internet using specially formatted documents called web pages that link to each other using hyperlinks. To access the Web you use computer software called browsers. Popular browsers include Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox.

Compared to publishing a book or producing a television show, creating or contributing to a Web site is easy and inexpensive. Many individuals who cannot reach large audiences through traditional media, such as books, radio, or television, communicate their ideas on the Web.

In addition to personal uses of the Web, many businesses and organizations use the Web as an important way of distributing information to the public:

  • Companies sell their products on the Web
  • Non-profit and other service organizations provide information about their services
  • Federal, state, and local governments post information for citizens, including contact information, forms, and more
Chapter 6 — Page 2