How the Web works

The World Wide Web is the most popular part of the Internet by far. Once you spend time on the Web you will begin to feel like there is no limit to what you can discover. The Web allows rich and diverse communication by displaying text, graphics, animation, photos, sound and video.

So just what is this miraculous creation? The Web physically consists of your personal computer, web browser software, a connection to an Internet service provider, computers called servers that host digital data, and routers and switches to direct the flow of information.

The Web is known as a client-server system. Your computer is the client; the remote computers that store electronic files are the servers.

Let's say you want to visit the the Louvre museum website. First you enter the address or URL of the website in your web browser. Then your browser requests the web page from the web server that hosts the Louvre's site. The server sends the data over the Internet to your computer. Your web browser interprets the data, displaying it on your computer screen.

The Louvre's website also has links to the sites of other museums, such as the Vatican Museum. When you click on that link, you access the web server for the Vatican Museum.

The "glue" that holds the Web together is called hypertext and hyperlinks. This feature allows electronic files on the Web to be linked so you can jump easily between them. On the Web, you navigate through pages of information--commonly known as browsing or surfing--based on what interests you at that particular moment.

To access the Web you need a web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. How does your web browser distinguish between web pages and other types of data on the Internet? Web pages are written in a computer language called Hypertext Markup Language or HTML.

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