Writing for the Web: A Primer for Librarians
by Eric H. Schnell
The power of the Web lies in the ability
to associate a section of text or an image of an
electronic document to another resource. This connectivity between electronic
documents, or "hypertext", is achieved by the Web through the use of the Hypertext
Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). The
linking of text to associated resources forms an electronic web of interconnecting computers existing throughout the world, hence the "World Wide" Web.
though the concept of hypertext has been around since
Vannevar Bush wrote As We May
Think for the Atlantic Monthly in 1945,
it wasn't until 45 years later that HTML was conceived in a paper
by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau of CERN
World Wide Web: Proposal for a HyperText Project . In was in this paper
that the concept which created as a project to access data already available at CERN: reports, experiment data, personnel data, electronic mail address lists, computer documentation, and experiment
documentation. It was also at CERN where the software to "browse" hypertext data was originally developed for the UNIX operating system.
The Web arrived at the desktop of librarians and remote library users with
the release of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications'
Since Mosaic's release in 1993, a multitude of other browsers,
most notably Netscape Navigator and
Microsoft Internet Explorer, have also been developed.
There are several advantages to using Web technology
within libraries. The ability to update information instantaneously
allows librarians to keep informational resources as current as possible.
Another advantage is that library patrons can access Web-based resources
from where ever they can gain access to the Internet and a Web browser.
Since the Web is "hardware independent", a single resource created
by the library can be accessed and used by
patrons with Macintosh, WinTel (Windows/Intel), or UNIX computers.
This is also attractive to librarians since it saves time converting documents
into other electronic formats.