HTML and CSS Reference
The Web succeeds at providing so much information because that information is distrib-
uted globally across millions of websites, each of which contributes the space for the
information it publishes. These sites reside on one or more computers, referred to as web
servers. A web server is just a computer that listens for requests from web browsers and
responds to that request. You, as a consumer of that information, request a resource from
the server to view it. You don't have to install it, change disks, or do anything other than
point your browser at that site.
A website is a location on the Web that publishes some kind of information. When you
view a web page, your browser connects to that website to get that information.
Each website, and each page or bit of information on that site, has a unique address. This
address is called a uniform resource locator or URL. When people tell you to visit a site
at http://www.yahoo.com/, they've just given you a URL. Whenever you use a browser to
visit a website, you get there using a URL. You'll learn more about URLs later in this
lesson in the “Uniform Resource Locators” section.
The Web Is Dynamic
If you want a permanent copy of some information that's stored on the Web, you have to
save it locally because the content can change any time, even while you're viewing the
If you're browsing that information, you don't have to install a new version of the help
system, buy another topic, or call technical support to get updated information. Just
launch your browser and check out what's there.
If you're publishing on the Web, you can make sure that your information is up-to-date
all the time. You don't have to spend a lot of time re-releasing updated documents.
There's no cost of materials. You don't have to get bids on numbers of copies or quality
of output. Color is free. And you won't get calls from hapless customers who have a ver-
sion of the topic that was obsolete 4 years ago.
Consider a topic published and distributed entirely online, such as Little Brother by Cory
Doctorow (which you can find a t http://craphound.com/littlebrother/) . He can correct any
mistakes in the topic and simply upload the revised text to his website, making it
instantly available to his readers. He can post pointers to foreign language translations of
the topic as they arrive. The website for the topic appears in Figure 1.1.