The World Wide Web is a system of servers interconnected throughout the world that is capable of providing all types of data including text, graphics, videos, and audio, through viewing programs called browsers. Anyone using a
web browser becomes a client and can connect to any web server that provides content. The two overwhelming advantages of the web over other information channels are (1) its multimedia capability, and (2) its capability to interface with web servers as well as to e-mail, gopher, UseNet, and so on. These advantages are so overpowering that the web is well on its way to superceding all other information access methods in the future. Other advantages of the web include the capability to jump from place to place via hypertext links, and an easy and familiar graphical user interface, although these features are not necessarily the ones that are driving the popularity of the web in the long run. In fact, navigating through too many jumps and links can often result in an unmanageable work session.
As the web becomes the dominant means of accessing information on the Internet, information based on non-web technologies is moving to web servers. Previously, one needed to search different types of information space. In the end, all information searches will be done within the web environment as FTP and Gopher files are also cataloged and accessible through web servers. Although it is fast becoming a necessary evil, transforming contents into HTML files for the web is more time-consuming than for FTP or Gopher servers, which essentially use text files without the additional command insertions that are required for HTML files. Although programs are available that facilitate file conversions to HTML, shifting a large number of files from non-web servers to web servers is still a laborious process. Concurrently, as the web space explodes, managing indexes and devising more efficient search methods is becoming increasingly complicated, because web documents are more diverse than those residing in non-web servers.
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