The World Wide Web turns 20

Last week was the web’s twentieth birthday. I’m a little sorry I missed it.  Now when I say the web, I don’t mean the internet.  Not today, I don’t.  While these terms are generally thought of as synonymous, this was not always the case.  The internet refers to a global system of connected networks, which generally follow a standard set of protocols.  When you are on the internet, you are surfing the web, right?  Technically yes, but they are not the same.  The web, or world wide web, refers to the way the data on these servers is organized.  On the internet as we know if, everything is linked by, well, links.  That is what defines the web.  It is literally a web of interconnected points, tied together with hypertext links.  This is where the “www” in web addresses comes from.  Without the advent of the web, the internet would have no real organization.  Search engines wouldn’t really be workable, as we understand them now.  Imagine trying to find a recipe or some such!  The way the web is all linked together is really the most impressive thing about it, defining of the entire internet, making it usable for passive information sharing, rather than just active communication.

While the internet predates the web (see wiki article here), dating back as far as the 1950′s, the world wide web counted its 20th birthday the first week of August.  The world’s first website is still available as an archived set of pages here.  I’m sure you can forgive their typos, as they were busy making the interwebs happen.

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