Surely there is only one web, well read on and decide for yourself.
I’ve already written a short introduction to the internet and the worldwide web, so I will assume a bit of prior knowledge…and of course that you have not been living in a cave for the last 25 years!
In the early noughties there was a shift in the way that the general public used the internet from passive consumers to active participators and creators, in what became know as the ‘Social Web’ or Web 2.0 (web two-point-oh). The rise of social media and various technologies enabled cheap or free entry for blogging, micro-blogging (i.e. twitter), wikis, picture and video sharing.
Interestingly, we have come full-circle and all these tools have moved into the corporate world, organizations now carefully manage their social media messages and interactions, not just to appeal to millennials, but to cater for the new diversity of channels, networking and buying habits.
In 2007 I attended a lecture by one of my heroes Tim Berners-Lee at the British Computer Society. As well as looking backwards at making the web (his phrase) he talked passionately about the Semantic Web or Web of Data. Here is a slightly earlier video on the same subject.
The aim of the semantic web and related technologies and messaging standards is to provide a richer set of meanings for data to be specified, shared, connected and used. The original web connected documents and unstructured resources using the simple hypertext links, with no common definition or meaning. The most obvious early use of the semantic web idea was the development of sophisticated search engines, i.e. that provide both a classification and structure to the data of interest, but also increasingly important collation, analysis & filtering from different sources.
(*Ed. for the purposes of this article and lay people – including me(!) – ‘semantics’ and ‘meaning’ are synonyms)
Internet of Things
The newest big thing is another evolution of the original internet ecosystem, extending the reach of the technology to inanimate objects, embedded chips, even animals and people! See my separate post about the IoT.
The Dark Web (or Deep Web or Dark Net), has come to wider public attention recently as the place where terrorists, criminals, bomb makers & deviants hang out. That may or may not be the case, I wouldn’t know! The important thing is that it uses the same internet infrastructure but needs specialist software, technology or access rights, hence the web resources can’t be accessed through normal browsers (search engines) but that does not mean that the Users are up to no good, it might just mean that the information is private, sensitive, or not for the general web community to access.
Finding your way around
As a bit of background let me tell you a little about how websites and related resources are identified on the web.
You are familiar with the format of a website or page address or URL (‘Uniform Resource Locator’), e.g. http://www.itelementaryschool.com/blog/
Here is a (very!) simple deconstruction:
www – that’s obvious ‘World Wide Web’, so obvious that it can be dropped in most browsers, try itelementaryschool.com
There are lots of other things happening on the internet, not just browsing the web, such as file transfer and email. The prefix ‘http://’ tells you that this address, effectively a request for a resource, uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Again using a web browser this can be dropped for simplicity.
itelementaryschool – this is called the domain or hostname. It comes with a suffix or 2, which may give you some clue as to what type of organisation owns the website, the country of origin and the type of business or service they offer. However, the registration of available domain names may only be determined by your ability to apply to the correct authority and paying for your little piece of cyberspace. There can also be sub-domains, smaller constituent parts of a domain. Think of these as departments in a larger organisation or store.
/blog/ – a page within the website, effectively this exposes some of the structure of the website and the ‘path’ to follow for you (your browser) to locate the page of interest. Depending on how a website is configured there might be a sub-domain, e.g. http://blog.itelementaryschool.com/
The whole readable address is translated into a numerical IP address (‘Internet Protocol’) that looks something like 172.16.254.1
The IP address is used to locate any webpage or resource where it is physically located, as well as addressable devices in a network and an object in the Internet of Things, for example.
The main reason for this digression is to explain why you may see www2, ww3 – or other numbered variants. These may be sub-domains of the www of the same name or possibly a mirror image of the site, created to ensure performance and resilience.
The take-away from this post is that the web is constantly evolving, at such a rate and in an unmanaged way (i.e. not by a single guiding hand or organisation) that makes labels and evolutionary waypoints difficult to define accurately.
What we think of today as the web is the social, dark, internet of things v2.0! All the ‘webs’ use variations and extensions of the same simple messaging system layered on top of the internet.
The most important thing is not what it is called, but how it is used, for good or evil. To coin a phrase from Tim Berners-Lee, it is a web of people, and what people want and need to do is the web.
Thank you for reading this blog, and for your comments and feedback.
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.