The Web's Workings

The Web is unique because, although it's a complex information chain, the information can be accessed via a user friendly, graphic interface which relies upon a technology known as hypertext. Hypertext items, or images that are highlighted, bold or underlined on one Web site, or homepage, are linked to other items on other Web sites. Thus, one link could lead a user to other ssources, providing a rich flow of information.

The Web's operations rely upon several components:

* server computers, which store the Web sites;

* Internet providers, which provide telephone or direct access;

* modems, which translate the analog information into digital information that can be transferred to the user; and

* software applications called Web browsers, such as NCSA Mosaic, Spry Mosaic and Netscape Navigator, among others, which reside on individuals' PCs.

The browsers contain invisible instructions to connect to the server over phone lines and to display each Web site's text, images and sounds. Each site is assigned a unique address called a uniform resource locator, or URL. Like a street address, a URL describes the Web site's content and geography on the Internet.

For example, a Web site with a URL of has four major components:

* http indicates to the browser that the site uses hypertext transport protocol;

* www indicates that the site is on the World Wide Web;

* intertec5 is the site's title; and

* com states the site is commercial domain, as opposed to an organization ("org") or an educational site ("edu")