Recently, in an office building in California, a worker connected a camera to his computer and took pictures of the weather outside every 15 minutes. These images were then distributed over the World Wide Web.
Sitting at her computer in Leverett House, Jessica P. Hekman '95 enjoyed the cross-country view. "From Boston, I could see out this window in California," she says. "I have [Web] links to a lot of different places. I love to spend time exploring."
Hekman is one of the millions of computer users who have become part of the phenomenon known as the World Wide Web.
Originally developed in Geneva at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, the Web was intended to be an information sharing project for high energy physics researchers around the world.
Its creators concede that "it has spread to other areas" and now call it "the most advanced information system deployed on the Internet."
The Web is so named because "no matter what server you are connecting to, that server can transparently connect you to someone else's server," says Jeff C. Tarr '96, co-president of Digitas, a student group dedicated to emerging technologies. "This process makes it a true web."
Over the past year, businesses across America and around the world have been scrambling to set up shop on the Web. Today, one can peruse on-line "home pages" for companies ranging from Condom Country to Pizza Hut (yes, they deliver).
Universities have caught on, too, as the Web provides unusual and varied academic resources for students.
"I believe that you will see new and interesting uses of the Web in course work," Assistant Professor of Computer Science Margo I. Seltzer '83 said in a recent on-line interview. "The ease of accessibility of information provided by the Web will be well-exploited for educational purposes."
Through her popular introductory class Computer Science 50, Seltzer was the first Harvard professor to incorporate Web-related issues into the curriculum.
Students on the Web
Although it's a relatively new technology, the Web is already being used by students for recreational and academic purposes.
Sarah T. Stewart '95 says she looks to the Web for "everything from thesis research to entertainment and games."
"It's really easy to waste a lot of time," she says, "which is called web surfing."
Web surfing can be the medium's primary appeal. There is a seemingly limitless amount of "I'm sure that most people who use the Web a lot will tell you they surf the Web looking for things more than anything else." Tarr says.
"I'm sure that most people who use the Web a lot will tell you they surf the Web looking for things more than anything else." Tarr says.