The Research and Development of the Informatics Web A Critical Analysis of the WWW Next Page

The Web is a Beneficial Innovation

The World Wide Web is technically nothing more than a distributed hypermedia system. Over the past few year, we have witnessed an explosion of information and activity on the Web, but "information leading to knowledge and wisdom, to significance, is still in its nascent stages." (December, 1994, online) However, the Web is still a revolutionary form of media, as I will now discuss.

Links Information

The Web allows a great deal of expression through text, images, sound, animation and other forms of multimedia. But the Web allows even more expression through the semantic linking of information. This means offering links to other Web pages, associated by context. Conventional forms of media, for example, as a research paper, can merely refer to another work, rather than linking directly to a live document.

On the Web, this active linking of information can allow any level of detail to exist within a document. Consider, for example, a news program. The producers must work hard to select the day's most important and relevant stories, and condense them into five minute slots. This only allows a fixed and perhaps incomplete level of detail. Within the Web, if a member of the audience wishes further detail, he/she need only click on the relevant link.

Time and Space Independent

A face-to-face conversation requires both parties being in the same physical space, at the same time. A telephone call or a television program requires the audience to be present only at a specific time. And a conventional (snail-mail) letter is received in a certain physical space (the letter box). With the Web, however, the audience need neither be present in a specific place nor at a specific time (although information may appear or disappear over a number of weeks). We can say the Web is time and space independent.

The outcome of this is that for the first time, "virtual communities" can form, based on interest rather than geographical location. (A good example of this is on of the many newsgroups, e.g. This phenomena leads to cliques of experts being formed, as well as individuals becoming members of "cyberspace neighbourhoods".

Social Effects

The Web allows society methods of communication which have previously been unavailable. Briefly, these are;

On the other hand, Web use is restricted only to those who have Web access. This introduces issues of elitism.

Internet Interface

The Web provides users with a standard, easy-to-use interface to many resources available on the Internet.

"The Web offers more expressive possibilities than Gopher, a more uniform interface than Telnet sessions, and the capability to integrate information from a variety of protocols." (December, 1994, online)

This allows the advantages of multimedia without the need for specialist knowledge.

The Research and Development of the Informatics Web A Critical Analysis of the WWW Next Page