The good news is that the World Wide Web (www) has not gone away. The bad news, at least for the tech-savvy, is that “www” is being obscured and hidden away from the view of a very large number of internet users because Google now considers “www” to be “trivial.”
Back in the days before the internet was something that was available to the general public it was used by universities and government offices and it required a degree in computer science or at least a lot of patience to navigate. If you wanted to connect your computer to any internet resource it was necessary to type in a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). The URL was and still is a complicated address telling your computer where to find another computer somewhere out there in cyberspace. You might start off with “http” for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol” followed by a colon and a pair of slashes. Then it was necessary to identify the type of server you wanted to connect to such as “ftp” for “File Transfer Protocol.” Next came the name of the server such as “Stanford” followed by the Top Level Domain (TLD) identifier “edu.” That was not the end of it–in addition to typing “http://ftp.stanford.edu” you would have had to add a path such as “research” and perhaps a subfolder like “1989-projects” followed by the name of the file you were seeking. Most of the time this resulted in a “file not found” error message, because most of the time you misspelled something, left out a slash, or used a lower-case letter rather than a capital letter.
In 1990 Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee recognized this to be one of the most user-hostile systems ever devised by man, so he created the World Wide Web (www) to simplify the process of entering the long and complicated URLs needed to navigate the growing internet. It was still necessary to have long, complicated URLs and it still is today, but the invention of the World Wide Web meant that most internet users no longer have to type in those torturously-long addresses.
Take a typical domain such as “www.atencionsanmiguel.org”. The domain is “atencionsanmiguel.org” while the subdomain is “www”. Examples of some common subdomains are “music.apple.com” or “news.microsoft.com” or “finance.yahoo.com” among many others. The subdomain is an important part of any URL
In spite of the continuing importance of “www” Google has taken upon itself to make changes to its popular Chrome browser that obscure the www subdomain from view. A Google staffer wrote: “www is now considered a trivial subdomain.” This drew a firestorm of criticism from the IT community. The reasons for the outrage amongst tech-savvy computer engineers is that Google’s actions are recognized as part of a bid to extend that company’s dominance of the web. This is something I will address in further detail continuing next week.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8@SMAguru.com.