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Monthly Archives: August 2016

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is a system of hypertext documents that are linked to each other. Internet is the means to access this set of interlinked documents. These hypertext documents can contain text, images, or even audio and video data. The World Wide Web, serving as an enormous information base, has also facilitated the spread of this information across the globe. It has led to the emergence of the Internet age. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the Internet owes its popularity to the World Wide Web.

Before understanding how the World Wide Web works, let us delve into the history behind the creation of this smart information base, popularly known as ‘www’.

It was the genius of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, an English computer scientist and MIT professor, who created the World Wide Web. While he was working at CERN in Switzerland, he built ENQUIRE, a closed database of information containing bidirectional links that could be edited from the server. ENQUIRE was in many ways, similar to the modern-day World Wide Web.

In 1989, Berners-Lee wrote a proposal describing an information management system. True, the concept of hypertext originated from projects such as the Hypertext Editing System at Brown University and similar projects by Ted Nelson and Andries van Dam, both working in the field of computers and Internet technology. But Berners-Lee accomplished the feat of combining the concepts of hypertext and Internet. He also developed a system of globally unique identifiers for web resources, which later came to be known as Uniform Resource Identifiers.
On April 30, 1993, it was decided that the World Wide Web would be free to everyone. After leaving CERN, Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science.

Working of the World Wide Web

Asking how the Internet works is not the same as asking how the world wide web works. Well, Internet and the World Wide Web are not one and the same, although they are often used as synonyms. While the Internet is an infrastructure providing interconnectivity between network computers, the web is one of the services of the Internet. It is a collection of documents that can be shared across Internet-enabled computers. The network of web servers is the backbone of the World Wide Web.

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is used to gain access to the web. A web browser requests for a particular web page to the web server, which responds with the requested page and its contents. It displays the page as rendered by HTML or other web languages used. Each resource on the web is identified by a globally unique identifier (URI). The domain name system, a hierarchical naming system for computers and resources on the Internet, is used to resolve the URL into an IP address.

Presence of hyperlinks, the worldwide availability of content, and a global readership are some of the striking features of the World Wide Web. The interlinked hypertext documents form a web of information. Hyperlinks present on web pages allow the web users to choose their paths of traversal across information on the web. They provide an efficient cross-referencing system and create a non-linear form of text. Moreover, they create a different reading experience. The information on the web is available 24/7 across the globe. It is updated in real time and made accessible to web users around the world. Except for certain websites that require user login, most other websites are open to everyone. This all-time availability of information has made the Internet a platform for knowledge-sharing. Thanks to the use of a common HTML format for rendering web content and a common access method using the HTTP protocol, the web has achieved universal readership.

The World Wide Web, a compilation of millions of hypertext documents, has brought together information from all over the world, ‘just a click away’. Before leaving this web page, take a moment to thank the World Wide Web; for if it was not for the web, you would not have landed here.

The Invisible Web

Most of us are very good in surfing the Internet, but the truth which many of us don’t know is, we are just skimming the surface of the web! Yes, there are two layers of web. They are surface web and the invisible web. Most of you are quite familiar with the surface web, where we access the information through search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. But there is vast unexplored territory lying underneath the surface web which forms the deep web or invisible web. The Invisible web refers to the websites or web pages that cannot be indexed by the search engines.

What is the Invisible Web?

There are some databases or web pages, that search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., cannot access or send their crawlers. These invisible sources or repositories are termed as invisible web or deep web. It is true that the invisible web exists and it has been estimated that it is 500 times larger than the visible web or surface web. The vast majority of the deep web is made of free floating web directory data and government-released data. For example, NASA has a huge data in the deep web, which is gathered from their scientific missions and Library of Congress has more than thousands of terabytes of historical data, which is mostly used by historians for their research purposes. Deep web mostly consists of raw data. Private academic data is one of its major constituents.

Why are they Invisible?

The deep web is invisible to us because they contain dynamic pages within database-driven websites. These deep URLs are identifiable and they are generally long and contain a wide variety of symbols like question marks, percentage signs, equal signs, etc. There are some online catalogs that don’t have hyper links, so they are invisible to the search engines. Some website pages have protected passwords to avoid wide accessibility. The content which we see in web pages are HTML coded. Some websites do not use these html codes and they become part of the deep web. Another reason for inaccessibility of websites could be because, few web pages have scripted content using Flash or JavaScript, which is unreadable by search engine crawlers and this makes those pages invisible. Private websites without hyperlinks are also apparent on the deep web. Some websites are ‘geotagged’ which means that, they can be accessible only within a particular region or country. There are some websites that hide its content behind a secure wall, and allow you to access the content only after you register in their site.

How to Access the Invisible Web?

There is software called Tor, through which the deep web can be explored. You just need to download the Tor browser bundle and start accessing the hidden web through this browser. The hidden wiki which has .onion URL extension can also be accessed using this browser. But what you need to know is, some sites which you are trying to access through this browser may cause safety issues to you and your computer. So I advice you not to explore the deep web often through this software. Some other ways to access the hidden web, are discussed below.

  • To know about the information of a company, you can register in the website manta and access the company data provided by Dun and Bradstreet, popularly known as D&B. Without registering also you can access the company’s database but, registering provides an additional advantage to access more detailed information.
  • ThomasNet search is an online register that contains the information of the manufacturing companies especially in North America. Thomas register is a physical directory and it has been converted to online directory.
  • Google Patent Search is an effective patent search engine which provides relevant information on the recent patent applications and the approved patent details.
  • Bizjournals search contains the archives of American business journals and it will be surely helpful to you, if you are an entrepreneur.
  • Archives is a website with ‘.org URL extension’, which gives data on the history of company sites that existed in the Internet and which no longer exists.
  • Virtual Library was initiated by Tim Berners-Lee, who is the creator of web. This is an old catalog which provides relevant information on various subjects.
  • Find Articles website contains a huge collection of industry articles and general articles too.
  • Google Blog Search and Infomine (founded by University of California at Riverside,) provide valuable articles, news feed, etc.
  • SurfWax is a search engine that would help you to dig detailed information on what you need.
  • TechDeepWeb website offers tools to get the resources that are hidden in the deep web.
  • Academic Index is a meta-search engine that pulls out database that are approved by scholars and librarians.
  • Intute website is United Kingdom based database that provides wide variety of information on various academic subjects.
  • Scirus is a scientific research engine that contains science articles, journals, patents, etc.
    Some of the specialized databases are WorldWideScience, Library of Congress, ERIC – Digital library of educational research and information, British database of educational and research resources, Authoritative U.S. government science information etc. From these databases, the required information can be derived.
  • Browsing the web through VPN (Virtual Private Network) over Internet, provides private data and other resources which are secure and reliable. This can help to reveal hidden information that are inaccessible in the Internet.

BrightPlanet (Internet Company) has estimated that the rate of growing information in the deep web is 10% faster than the surface web. According to the Internet company, “Information held in the deep web is up to two thousand times better quality than the information easily retrieved by the search engines from the surface web”. However it is advised by many scholars not to access the invisible web often, for the reasons of safety.

Invented the World Wide Web

Searching on the Internet is common when one needs information, news, or some data for a project. The most common 3 letters in today’s world are ‘www’. What is the World Wide Web and how does it work? Let us know more in the following paragraphs.

What is the World Wide Web?

The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. It is a system of resources that help a viewer to view and interact with information related to anything under the sun. One can access the World Wide Web from a computer that is connected to the Internet, that is, in turn, globally interconnected to computer networks. One can easily move from one resource to another and navigate through the web with the help of browsers. These browsers present formulated text, images, sounds, etc, in the form of a page. One can even click on hyperlinks and navigate to other related pages on either the same computer or server, or any other server on the network.

All pages on the World Wide Web are formulated using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). The information is transferred on the computers using a set of rules called the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

Who Invented the World Wide Web?

The Internet was present before the World Wide Web was invented. The Internet or Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks (ARPAnet) was funded by the US Military, to have a military command and control center to withstand a nuclear attack after the cold war. ARPAnet was used to distribute information between different computers located in different geographical locations. The TCP/IP communications standard was created by APRAnet, and is used even today. In 1969, ARPAnet was opened for public use, and many computer geeks found new ways to share computers.

The history of World Wide Web began with the help of an Englishman, Tim Berners-Lee. He, along with the help of Robert Cailliau and a few others at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucleaire (CERN) developed the World Wide Web.

Berners-Lee was a graduate in physics who joined CERN in 1980. Because CERN, today known as European Particle Physics Laboratory, was so large and had thousands of researchers working, he developed the first hypertext system. This would help keep track of those who worked on a project, the software associated with the program, and the software that ran on the computer. The first hypertext system was called Enquire by Berners-Lee.

Robert Cailliau joined Berners-Lee, and helped him run the first World Wide Web conference. In 1990, after a month spent developing the first web browser, Berners-Lee deployed a program on his and Cailliau’s computer. Thus, they became the first people to communicate through a web server on December 25, 1990. Their first project was to put the entire CERN telephone book on the web site. This project gained immediate response and all employees at CERN accessed the telephone directory only through the web page. CERN was connected to ARPAnet in 1990. Thus, Berners-Lee could post a notice to the public to download the web server and line mode browser. His web server took the world by storm and web servers were downloaded across the world.

Soon, Berners-Lee added the FTP protocol to the server. This made a wide range of existing web directories immediately accessible though a web page. In June 1992, Berners-Lee was sent to the United States by CERN for a three-month trip. Here, he met Tom Bruce, the creator of the first PC web browser―Cello.

Today, one cannot imagine life without the World Wide Web and the Internet. It has made a global impact, and turned the old idiom, ‘It’s a small, small world’, into reality.

Tips on Writing the Living Web

Some parts of the web are finished, unchanging creations –  as polished and as fixed as books or posters. But many parts change all the time:

  • news sites bring up-to-the-minute developments, ranging from breaking news and sports scores to reports on specific industries, markets, and technical fields
  • weblogs, journals, and other personal sites provide a window on the interests and opinions of their creators
  • corporate weblogs, wikis, knowledge banks, community sites, and workgroup journals provide share news and knowledge among co-workers and supply-chain stakeholders

Some of these sites change every week; many change every day; a few change every few minutes. Daypop’s Dan Chan calls this the Living Web, the part of the web that is always changing.

Every revision requires new writing, new words that become the essence of the site. Living sites are only as good as today’s update. If the words are dull, nobody will read them, and nobody will come back. If the words are wrong, people will be misled, disappointed, infuriated. If the words aren’t there, people will shake their heads and lament your untimely demise.

Writing for the Living Web is a tremendous challenge. Here are ten tips that can help.

1. Write for a reason

Write for a reason, and know why you write. Whether your daily updates concern your work life, your hobbies, or your innermost feelings, write passionately about things that matter.

To an artist, the smallest grace note and the tiniest flourish may be matters of great importance. Show us the details, teach us why they matter. People are fascinated by detail and enthralled by passion; explain to us why it matters to you, and no detail is too small, no technical question too arcane.

Bad personal sites bore us by telling us about trivial events and casual encounters about which we have no reason to care. Don’t tell us what happened: tell us why it matters. Don’t tell us your opinion: tell us why the question is important.

If you don’t really care, don’t write. If you are a student and everybody is talking about exams and papers and you simply don’t care, let it be. If your job bores you, it will bore us. (If you despise your job with a rich, enduring passion, that’s another thing entirely!) Write for yourself; you are, in the end, your most important reader.

If your site belongs to a product, a project, or an enterprise, you must still find a way to represent its passion and excitement.  If you do not understand why your product is compelling or comprehend the beauty of your enterprise, find the reason or find a new writer.

Write honestly. Don’t hide, and don’t stop short. When writing about things that matter, you may be tempted to flee to safe, familiar havens: the familiar, the sentimental, the fashionable. Try to find the strength to be honest, to avoid starting the journey with passion and ending it with someone else’s tired formula. The work may be hard, it may be embarrassing, but it will be true – and it will be you, not a tired formula or an empty design. And if you can be satisfied with that tired formula, you aren’t writing for a reason.

Never, for any consideration, publish a statement you know to be false.

Though you write with passion about things that matter greatly, always remember that it’s a big world, filled with people and stories. Don’t expect the world to stop and listen. Never expect any individual (or, worse, any quantity of individuals) to read your work, for they may have other things to do. At the same time, steel yourself to expect the unexpected visitor and the uninvited guest; the most unlikely people may read your work. Your mother, who never uses a computer, may read your intimate weblog one day in the library. To be honest with the world, you may need to be honest with your mother; if you cannot face your mother, perhaps you are not ready to write for the world.

2. Write often

If you are writing for the Living Web, you must write consistently. You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often. One afternoon in grad school, I heard B. F. Skinner remark that fifteen minutes a day, every day, adds up to about book every year, which he suggested was as much writing as anyone should indulge. You don’t need to write much, but you must write, and write often.

If you don’t write for a few days, you are unfaithful to the readers who come to visit. Missing an update is a small thing – rudeness, not betrayal – and readers will excuse the occasional lapse.

If you are inconsistent, readers will conclude you are untrustworthy. If you are absent, readers will conclude you are gone. It’s better to keep religiously to a once-a-week, or once-a-fortnight schedule, than to go dark mysteriously.

If you cannot write for a time, and the reason for your absence is interesting, write about it. Your honeymoon, your kidney transplant, your sister’s gubernatorial inauguration – all these can be predicted and worked into the fabric of your writing so that the interruption, when it comes, seems natural. But avoid, if you can, sudden cryptic pronouncements: “I’ll be unable to post for a while” gives us nothing we can use or learn from.

Don’t assume that you will find something to say every morning. The day will come, sooner or later, when you need inspiration and find you have none.  Store topics, news items, entire articles for slow times. Carry a notebook or a PDA and jot down reminders. You cannot have too many notes saved up, but you can easily find yourself with too few.

Since you write often, use good tools. Select them to fit your hand and voice. Learn to use them well.

3. Write tight

Omit unnecessary words.

Choose a visual design that fits your voice. Unless the design is the point of your site, select colors and visual elements that support without dominating.  Resist the temptation to add features, for it is often best to use only those few technical and design elements that support your mission.  Don’t rush to replace a good design: you will grow bored with it long before your readers do.

Read your work. Revise it. Don’t worry about being correct, but take a moment now and then to think about the craft. Can you choose a better word – one that is clearer, richer, more precise? Can you do without a word entirely?

Omit unnecessary words.

4. Make good friends

Read widely and well, on the web and off, and in your web writing take special care to acknowledge the good work and good ideas of other writers. Show them at their best, pointing with grace and respect to issues where you and they differ. Take special care to be generous to good ideas from those who are less well known, less powerful, and less influential than you.

Weblog writers and other participants in the Living Web gain readers by exchanging links and ideas. Seeking to exchange links without ideas is vulgarly known as blogrolling. Begging high-traffic pages or famous writers to mention you is bothersome and unproductive

Instead of begging, find ways to be a good friend. All writers thrive on ideas; distribute them generously and always share the credit. Be generous with links. Be generous, too, with your time and effort; A-list sites may not need your traffic, but everyone can use a hand.

Many prominent web writers travel a lot – to conferences, meetings, trade shows. Sooner or later, they’ll come to your corner of the world. Offer to feed them. Invite them to parties. Offer to introduce them to interesting people. They might be too busy. They might be too shy. But the road can be a lonely place, and it’s always interesting to meet thinking people.

Small, thoughtful gifts are nice. Share books you love, or that you’ve written. If you’re a photographer or an artist, prints and sketches can be unique and memorable. (Include permission to reproduce them on the web.) Join their cause. Donate to their charity.

Friends are vital for business sites as well, but business and friendship can be a volatile mix. Your prospects, customers and vendors are obvious friends, but both they and your readers will understand that your friendship is not disinterested.  Unlikely friends, including your competitors, may prove more convincing.

5. Find good enemies

Readers love controversy and learn from debate. Disagreement is exciting. Everyone loves a fight, and by witnessing the contest of competing ideas we can better understand what they imply.

Dramatic conflict is an especially potent tool for illuminating abstract and technical issues, whether in software engineering or business planning. At times, choosing a communications protocol or adopting an employee benefits plan may seem an abstract task, barely related to the human crises that daily confront us. If each alternative has a determined, effective advocate, however, it may reveal the source of the conflict and to remind us of the consequences of the choice.

To make an abstract or difficult point more real, identify and respond to an advocate who holds a different position. Choose your opponent with care. If you choose a rival who is much less powerful than you, readers may see you as a bully. If your rival is a business competitor, you may seem unscrupulous. The best enemy, in fact, is often a friend – a writer you cite frequently and who often cites you, but with whom you disagree on a specific questions.

A handful of individuals seemingly live for controversy and seek out ways to create and inflame disputes. These so-called trolls are chiefly the bane of discussion groups but occasionally find their way into the Living Web. Never engage them; you cannot win. (Trolls, when ignored, will usually retire. If they cause danger or damage that cannot be ignored, the police and the courts will assist you.)

When beginning a debate, always have in mind a plan for ending it. Ill-planned arguments can drag on, lost in a mass of boring detail or irrelevant side-issues. Worse, the personalities of the advocates may become more engaging than the issues, obscuring your purpose entirely. Have in mind, from the outset, an idea of how long you want to engage the issue and how you expect the exercise to end (or reach a resting point). Plan a conclusion before firing the first salvo. You might devise an event – a final meeting, a live debate or online poll – that will provide a sense of closure. Write a joint communique for your readers or your management, summarizing the outstanding issues and highlighting progress. Then archive both sides of the exchange – perhaps with annotation from a neutral authority – so future readers may enjoy and benefit from the conflict.

When it’s over, try to make good friends with good enemies.

6. Let the story unfold

The Living Web unfolds in time, and as we see each daily revelation we experience its growth as a story. Your arguments and rivalries, your ideas and your passions: all of these grow and shift in time, and these changes become the dramatic arc of your website.

Understand the storyteller’s art and use the technique of narrative to shape the emerging structure of your living site. Foreshadowing hints at future events and expected interests: your vacation, the election campaign, the endless midnight hours at work in the days before the new product ships. Surprise, an unexpected flash of humor or a sudden change of direction, refreshes and delights. Use links within your work to build depth, for today’s update will someday be your own back story.

People are endlessly fascinating. Write about them with care and feeling and precision. Invented characters, long a staple of newspaper columnists, are rarely seen on the Living Web; creating a fascinating (but imaginary) friend could balance your own character on your site.

When the star of the site is a product or an organization, temper the temptation to reduce the narrative to a series of triumphs.  Although you don’t usually want to advertise bad news, your readers know that every enterprise faces challenges and obstacles. Consider sharing a glimpse of your organization’s problems: having seen the challenge, your readers will experience your success more vividly.

Interweave topics and find ways to vary your pacing and tone. Piling tension on tension, anger on rage, is ultimately self-defeating; sooner or later, the writing will demand more from you than you can give and the whole edifice will collapse in boredom or farce. When one topic, however important, overshadows everything else in your site, stop. Change the subject; go somewhere new, if only for a moment. When you return, you and your reader will be fresher and better prepared.

7. Stand up, speak out

If you know your facts and have done your homework, you have a right to your opinion. State it clearly. Never waffle, whine, or weasel.

If you are not sure you are right, ask yourself why you are writing. If you are seeking information or guidance from your readers, ask them. Don’t bore them (and discredit yourself) with a hesitant, unformed opinion. If you are writing in order to discover your mind or to try out a new stance, continue by all means– but file the note in your desk drawer, not on your website.

If you believe you are right, say so. Explain why. It doesn’t matter that you are young, or unknown, or lack credentials, or that crowds of famous people disagree. Don’t hesitate or muddy the water. The truth matters; show us the right answer, and get out of the way.

Never lie about your competitors, and never exult in your rival’s bad news.

Try, if you can, to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain and humiliation on those who have the misfortune to be mistaken. People err, and you too will be wrong tomorrow. Civility is not mere stuffiness; it can be the glue that lets us fight for our ideas and, once we recognize the right answer, sit down together for drinks and dinner.

8. Be sexy

You are a sexual being. So are all of your readers (except the Google robot). Sex is interesting. Sex is life, and life is interesting. The more of yourself you put into your writing, the more human and engaging your work will be.

If your writing is a personal journal, and if it is honest, you will have to write about things that you find embarrassing to describe, feelings you might not want to share, events that you wouldn’t mention to strangers (or, perhaps, to anyone). Decide now what you will do, before it happens.

Undressing, literally, figuratively, or emotionally, has always been a powerful force in personal sites and web logs. Pictures don’t matter in the long run; what matters is the trajectory of your relationship with the reader, the gradual growth of intimacy and knowledge between you.

9. Use your archives

When you add something to the Living Web and invite others to link to your ideas, you promise to keep your words available online, in their appointed place, indefinitely. Always provide a permanent location (a “permalink”) where each item can be found. Do your best to ensure that these locations don’t change, breaking links in other people’s websites and disrupting the community of ideas.

The promise to keep your words available need not mean that you must preserve them unchanged. In time, you may find errors you want to correct. The world changes, and things that once seemed clear may require explanation.

Today, this permanent location is often a chronological archive, a long list of entries for a particular week or month. These archives are useful and easy to make. Many popular tools build chronological archives automatically. But chronological archives are limited: you might someday want to know what you wrote in May of 1999, but why would anyone else care? Topical summaries and overviews are much more helpful to new readers and to regulars alike, and if they require a modest additional effort every day, that effort pays dividends that grow as your archives expand.

New tools like Six Degrees and Eastgate’s Tinderbox can make it easier to keep track of categories, to find where new things fit and to find old things that need new links.  Topical archives are Google’s natural friend. Remember that your old pages will often be read by visitors from search engines; introduce yourself on every page, and be sure that every page, however obscure, has links to tell people:

  • who you are, what you want, and why you’re writing
  • your email address
  • where to find your latest writing

Link to work you’ve already written – especially to good work that you wrote long ago. Don’t be shy about linking to yourself: linking to your own work is a service, not self-promotion.

10. Relax!

Don’t worry too much about correctness: Find a voice and use it. Most readers will overlook, and nearly all will forgive, errors in punctuation and spelling. Leave Fowler and Roget on the shelf, unless they’re your old friends. Write clearly and simply and write quickly, for if you are to write often you must neither hesitate or quibble.

Don’t worry about the size of your audience. If you write with energy and wit about things that matter, your audience will find you. Do tell people about your writing, through short personal email notes and through postcards and business cards and search engines. Enjoy the audience you have, and don’t try to figure out why some people aren’t reading your work.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Do let your work on the Living Web flow from your passion and your play, your work life and your life at home. Establish a rhythm, so your writing comes naturally and your readers experience it as a natural part of their day or their week. But if the rhythm grows onerous, if you find yourself dreading your next update or resenting the demands of your readers, if you no longer relish your morning web routine or your evening note-taking, find a new rhythm or try something else. Change the schedule, or voice, or tone. Switch topics. Try, if you can, to resist the temptation to drop things entirely, to simply stop.

Don’t worry about those who disagree with you, and don’t take bad reviews to heart. The web is filled with caring and kindness, but thoughtless cruelty can and does cloud every writer’s spirit from time to time. Ideas matter, but name-calling doesn’t, and petulant critics wrap tomorrow’s virtual fish.