The World Wide Web is an application or service (as an aggregate of millions of individual services) running on the Internet that uses specific protocols such as URIs, HTTP and HTML to provide a system of interlinked or "hypertext" documents. WWW is an acronym for the World Wide Web, also known as simply the Web, by convention capitalized given that it's a shortened version of the proper name of the World Wide Web — not a web but the Web.

The original specifications for the Web (such as URI, HTTP and HTML 2.0) were standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), with this effort moving over to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The IETF decided (after HTML) not to take on any further activities related to SGML (or XML) markup. Specifications created by the W3C are not actually "standards" since the W3C is an industry consortium, not a standards body. Mature W3C specifications are called Recommendations. Some W3C Recommendations have been developed in cooperation with standards bodies and/or have been forwarded on to them to become proper standards (such as XML and HTML via ISO).

As a note, the Wikipedia World Wide Web page states:

As its inventor, Berners-Lee conceived the Web to be the Semantic Web where all its contents should be descriptively marked-up.

which is either untrue or simply nonsense. The "Semantic Web" is a concept first made public in 2001, not the early 1990s, and is still half-baked. Berners-Lee's early concepts for the Web can be read on the W3C site, and any notion of "semantics" (in the sense the W3C uses the term) wasn't present in those documents, nor was there any discussion in this regard on the IETF mailing lists. By the time the Web was established, SGML markup had been extensively used in industry for almost a decade, and applications such as DocBook and those produced by the TEI were using richer and substantially more descriptive markup than HTML. So even if we assume that the notion of typed links provides "semantics" (whatever that actually means), seventeen years later there's still no way to declare types, much less use them in Web links. On the contrary, the epistemological distinctions between description, declaration, expression, representation, and reification (etc.) still seem to be lost on most "Semantic Web" practitioners. What we have instead is syntax, always more syntax.

In this regard, the overriding concern of the current W3C HTML Working Group seems to be largely on supporting the W3C XML Schema language and on removing what they consider to be "presentational" markup such as <b> and <i> in favour of <strong> and <em>, as if either of these issues really made a bit of difference. The fact that work on XHTML 2.0 began over six years ago — they're on their eighth public draft at this point — might indicate the futility of the effort.

-- MurrayAltheim

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« This page (revision-3) was last changed on 22-Feb-2007 01:20 by MurrayAltheim