Internet Resources: The World-Wide Web (WWW)

by Michael J. Albright
MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship, v3#2, Fall 1995:44-61

In this issue, we'll explore the "killer app" that now dominates the Internet, the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW was conceived by the European Center for Particle Research (CERN) as a means of sharing data among scientists and made its debut in 1989. However, the Web did not become a standard desktop icon until the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) unveiled Mosaic as a WWW browser in 1992. Within a year, more than two million persons around the world were regular Mosaic users, and the Web soon made us forget all about Gopher.

The primary architect of Mosaic was actually an undergraduate student employed by the NCSA, Marc Andreessen. In early 1994, Andreessen was invited by Jim Clark, a former Stanford professor who founded Silicon Graphics in 1982 and built it into a Fortune 500 company with $1.5 billion in annual revenues, to join him in a new venture taking the Web into a new dimension. Clark and Andreessen established the Mosaic Communications Corporation in April 1994 and introduced Netscape Navigator as the next

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generation Web browser in September. In November 1994, the company changed its name to Netscape Communications Corporation. Netscape issued five million shares of common stock in August 1995, and in case we need any reminder of Netscape's clout in the Internet marketplace, Clark's own shares of Netscape stock are estimated to be worth over $500 million. Just two years out of the University of Illinois and still in his mid-20s, Andreessen is said to be worth more than $50 million.

How fast has the Web grown? According to Matthew Gray of the NetGenesis Corporation, the number of WWW sites grew from 130 in June 1993 (just two and a half years ago) to an estimated 23,500 in June 1995, and the number was doubling every five months. These figures would likely project to 50,000 at press time (November 1995), and indeed, WebCrawler, a division of America Online, counted 40,644 WWW servers online in late September. When Gray's data were collected, one out of every 270 machines on the Internet was a WWW server. These statistics only count the servers, not the "home pages" maintained by individuals, educational institutions, organizations, or companies. Lycos, Inc., estimates that by the end of 1995, more than 10 million individual pages will be on the Web. In fact, the newsletter Internet Index has projected (perhaps not so tongue-in-cheek) that at present growth rates everyone on Earth will have Internet access by the year 2004, so if somebody jokes that everyone and his Aunt Bertha seems to have a WWW home page, the idea may not be too far off.

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Why Is the WWW So Special?

The World-Wide Web brought the "point-and-click" technology of the desktop to the Internet, in the process greatly increasing the potential for interactivity. While such features as graphics, photographs, audio and video were possible with Gopher and other applications, the Web was the first to integrate them into a single screen. The use of multifont text also became possible. And perhaps the most dynamic feature of the Web was hypertext, the ability to link words, phrases, or graphics with other files on the same server or halfway around the world. Hypertext applications have greatly increased our ability to organize information from multiple sources and access any of it with a single click of the mouse.

What Do I Need to Know About the WWW to Use It?

The answer is not much. All three of my children (ages 19, 17, and 12) are experienced Web "surfers," and my 17-year old son quickly learned how to erase his tracks so no one could find out where he'd been. From time to time, I hear stories about preschoolers who are addicted to the Web. Easy access to such a mind-boggling array of Internet resources has become a major social issue. It is as easy to conduct a search on Playboy or your favorite four-letter expletive as it is current legislation or LCD panel vendors.

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Here are three topics with which you should be familiar.

Browsers. To experience the WWW, you first need to have access to software that provides Web access, called a "browser." More than 50 different browsers are commercially available. However, both Netscape and Mosaic are free to sites in the educational community, so commercial sources need not be sought by educators.

After just a year of existence, Netscape now dominates the market. A company called BenLo Park Research tracked 2.1 million visits to 1,727 Web sites over a two-month period between June and August 1995 and found that Netscape was the browser of choice for 83.5 percent of the users. Just 2.9 percent of the contacts came from Mosaic browsers, 2.8 percent from America Online, 1.8 percent from NetCruiser, and 1.1 percent from Prodigy. The wildly popular Yahoo WWW database maintains a script that randomly samples the contacts it receives from an estimated 1.4 million different users per week. For the four-week period ending November 5, 1995, 77.5 percent of the contacts came from Netscape and 11.7 percent from Mosaic.

One other browser merits some mention here. Lynx was developed by the University of Kansas in 1993 to provide WWW access on systems that do not support graphics. Lynx provides interactivity but only accesses the text files of Web servers. Lynx does not provide the point-and-click feature and cannot read graphics files. However, it is the best means of Web access for nearly five percent of Yahoo database users.

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URLs. It is extremely helpful for WWW users to understand the addressing system, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL). The URL syntax was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to provide a standard means of addressing on the Web. A URL consists of three components:

[protocol] :// [host computer] / [location of directory or file]

The protocol could be http (HyperText Transfer Protocol, the WWW protocol),gopher, telnet, ftp, or even file. (Netscape is a multipurpose browser that can also be used to access Gopher as well as Telnet and FTP sites.) The host computer is the machine on the Internet upon which the desired information resides. The third component is the location of the desired file or directory within the file structure of the host computer. For example, the online version of MC Journal is located at the URL:

In this case, "http" indicates WWW, and "" is the host computer at SUNY Buffalo. A directory named "publications" exists on that computer, and "mcjrnl" is a subdirectory within the "publications" directory. When you attempt to access a URL and get an error message to the effect that the file does not exist, delete the last component from the URL and try again,

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and repeat the process as many times as necessary until you do access a page that makes sense. Sometimes by working backward and then forward, we can locate information for which we initially had an incorrect URL.

Search Tools. Numerous "search engines" exist for searching the Web. The NetSearch button on Netscape is the best place to start, providing access to InfoSeek, Lycos, and WebCrawler, in addition to several others. Each employs different search strategies that are explained in easily-accessible information files. Another helpful resource is the All-In-One Internet Search page maintained at URL:

How Are Media Centers Using the WWW?

Media centers have jumped on the WWW bandwagon with some enthusiasm. Like anyone else, we use the Web to locate information. For example, many major manufacturers and vendors of the equipment we use have Web sites, including:

Apple Computer, Inc.

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Eastman Kodak Company
3M Company
In Focus Systems
Extron Electronics

The Tenet Computer Group has compiled a comprehensive vendor index that links directly to many manufacturer and vendor home pages:

Many professional associations now have WWW home pages. The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) has a Web site under development that will be made public shortly, and the Consortium of College and University Media Centers (CCUMC) is also expected to have a Web site soon. Other associations already online include:

International Communications Industries Association (ICIA)

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U.S. Distance Learning Association

In addition to MC Journal, many other professional journals are available in full-text format on the Web. These include:


Several university film-video rental collections are on the Web, including those operated by:

Indiana University, Media Resources
Pennsylvania State University, Audio Visual Services
University of Colorado at Boulder, Academic Media Services
University of Washington, Classroom Support Services
University of Minnesota, University Film and Video

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Other useful online resources include:

Distance Education Clearinghouse, University of Wisconsin Extension

Copyright and Intellectual Property Resources, International Federation of Library Association and Institutions

National Information Infrastructure

Higher Education Information Resources Alliance(HEIRAlliance)

Annenberg-CPB Higher Education Project

Institute for Academic Technology, University of North Carolina

Many college and university media centers now maintain WWW home pages to provide information to their own customers. Typical features include staff directories, training event schedules, overviews of services, annual reports, listings of projects inhouse, online catalogs for film-video collections, policies and procedures, mission statements, copyright clearinghouses, orientation to media-equipped classrooms, equipment operating instructions, campus cable TV schedules, and links to related sites. A comprehensive listing of media center Web site URLs known to the author is appended at the end of this article.

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Additions or corrections should be sent directly to me at and will be appreciated.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Despite all this excitement, you might hold off on buying that Netscape stock. Last month, I hear a presentation by a high echelon National Science Foundation official, in which he said something like, "Remember how quickly Gopher was forgotten when the World-Wide Web came along? Well, a new technology is out there on the horizon that will make you forget the WWW just as fast....Hot Java." Beta versions of Hot Java are already available for Windows 3.5 and Windows 95, and a Macintosh version is expected soon. (Contact URL for downloads.) A year from now, I may be writing another MC Journal column extolling the virtues of Hot Java and reminding readers about when we used to surf the World-Wide Web. We'll see what happens.

Michael J. Albright is an Instructional Development Specialist, Media Resources Center, Iowa State University. His e-mail address is

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Known Media Center WWW Sites -- 11/4/95

For an up-to-date list, click here

Arizona State University, University Libraries Video Resources

Auburn University, Telecommunications & Educational Television

Ball State University, Educational Development and Technology

Baylor College of Medicine, Medical Illustration and Audiovisual Education

Boston University, Multimedia Communications Lab

Brigham Young University, Media Services

Brock University, Communications and Network Services

Buffalo State College, Instructional Resources

California State University, Bakersfield, Media Services

California State University, Fresno, Computing, Communications, and Media Services

California State University, Northridge, Information & Technology Resources

Dalhousie University, Office of Instructional Development and Technology

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Drake University, Educational Media

Drew University, Coburn Media Resource Center

Eastern Washington University, Computing Center, University Graphics

George Mason University, Instructional Development Office

Georgia Institute of Technology, Interactive Media Technology Center

Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, Media Center

Idaho State University, Media Center

Indiana University, Instructional Support Services

Kansas State University, College of Education, Instructional Media Center

Keio University, Science and Technology Media Center

Lewis & Clark College, Media Services/

Mercer University, Media Center

Miami-Dade Community College, Kendall Campus, Center for Teaching and Learning

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Middlebury College, Media Services

Nanyang Technological University Library, Media Department

Northwestern University, Galther Library, Learning Resources Center

Northwestern University, Galther Library, Professional Links Section

Northwestern University, College of Arts & Sciences, MultiMedia Learning Center

Northwestern University, Library, Mitchell Multimedia Center

Oregon State University, Forestry Media Center

Pennsylvania State University, Audio Visual Services

Pennsylvania State University, Educational Technology Services

Radford University, Teaching Resources Center

Reed College, Library, Instructional Media Center

St. Lawrence University, Instructional Media

San Francisco State University, Audio-Visual/ITV Center

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Simon Fraser University, Instructional Media Centre

Slippery Rock University, Learning Technology User Services

Southern Methodist University, Center for Media and Instructional Technology

Southwest Texas State University, Media Services

Stephen F. Austin State University, Education Media Center

SUNY at Buffalo, Academic Services, Media Resources

SUNY at Stony Brook, HSC Media Services

Syracuse University, Faculty Computing and Media Services

Tulane University, Cable Access Network

University College London, Audio Visual Centre

University of Alabama, Educational Media & Technology

University of Alberta, Instructional Resource Services

University of Bristol, Educational Technology Unit

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University of British Columbia, Media Services

University of California, Berkeley, Media Resources Center

University of California, Berkeley, Office of Media Services

University of California, Davis, Instruction Services

University of California, San Diego, Media Center

University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, Learning Resources Center

University of California, Santa Barbara, Instructional Development

University of California, Santa Cruz, Media Center

University of Cincinnati, Media Services

University of Colorado, Academic Media Services

University of Connecticut, University Center for Instructional Media & Technology

University of Delaware Library, Media Unit

University of Dundee, Media Services

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University of Florida, College of Business Administration, Media Center

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Center for Instructional Support

University of Hong Kong, Centre for Media Resources

University of Idaho, Media Center

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Dept. of Instructional Technology

University of Massachusetts, Foreign Language Resource Center

University of Michigan, Instructional Technology Systems

University of Minnesota, University Film and Video

University of Missouri-St. Louis, Instructional Technology Center

University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Media Services

University of Notre Dame, Educational Media

University of Oxford, Educational Technology Resources Center

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University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Sciences, Educational Technology Services

University of Scranton, Office of Instructional Technology

University of Sheffield, Television Services

University of South Carolina, Educational Technology Center

University of South Florida, Health Sciences Media Center

University of Stirling, Media Services

University of Texas at Austin, Liberal Arts Media Center

University of Toledo, Audio Visual Services

University of Virginia, Multimedia Resource Center

University of Washington, Classroom Support Services

University of Washington, University Libraries Media Center

University of Waterloo, Audio Visual Centre

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Instructional Communications Systems

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University of Wisconsin-Madison, L&S Learning Support Systems

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Information & Media Technologies Division

Utah Valley State College, Media Services

University of Wisconsin-Superior, Media Resource Center

Washington & Lee University, Media Center

Washington State University, Media Materials Services

Western Carolina University, Media Center

Winona State University, Audiovisual Services

This article is copyright (C) by Michael J. Albright. All Rights Reserved. All commercial use requires permission of the author and the editors of this journal.

MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship
ISSN 1069-6792
Fall 1995

November 1995

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