What is the Web?

What is the Internet? What is the Web? Is their a difference?

People use the terms Web and Internet interchangably, but they are in fact very different.

“The World Wide Web, or Web, is in fact just one of a number of ways information can be exchanged over the Internet, another being e-mail” (Murphy and Persson 2009:4).

The internet, on the other hand, refers to the physical makeup of how we communicate (i.e. the cables that carry the images, the switches that receive the signal of these cables).

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and allowed people to use if for free. HTML is the backbone of the Web because it allows everyone to participate in the communication of information.

So the Internet refers to the physical network(s), whereas the Web allows us to use the Internet as a means of communication.

Are there different types of Web?

In short, the Web is all the same; however, how we access (and interact with) it differs. For this reason the Web is full of information which can be accessed in so many different ways, so much so, people refer to different sections of the Web. To give you an overview of all of these references/names, see the list below:

  • Opaque Web refers to files that can, but are not indexed (Sherman & Price 2001).
  • The private Web is tecnically indexible because it is protected by passwords.
  • Proprietary Web requires users to agree to special terms before you use their service (e.g. NYTimes).
  • Invisible Web refers to parts of the Web that cannot be accessed, such as, social media.

The fact that there are so many different names for the Web gives it a true global scale: The Web is a huge place and people are still unsure just how big it actually is.


  1. Murphy, C., and Persson, N. (2009) HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions. USA: Apress and Friends of Ed.
  2. Pedley, P. (2001) The Invisible Web. London: Aslib-IMI.
  3. Sherman, C., & Price, G. (2001) The Invisible Web. New Jersey: Info Today Inc.

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