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Hypertext Content and Online Media

Content is everything. Online, it is HTML markup that tells your browser what that content means and how to present it to you. The concept of markup comes from traditional print publishing, in which a writer supplies the content, which an editor then marks up with instructions for the printer, specifying the layout and typography of the work. The printer, following the markup, type-sets the pages and reproduces copies for distribution.

With the Web and HTML, the author and the editor are often the same person. The work, or content, lives in a linked set of HTML files on a web server. The content is not distributed in discrete copies, as in the print publication model. Instead, copies of web pages are served in response to user requests. The information returned by the web server is processed by the user's browser to display a web page in a window or tab.

Often the content of a web page does not reside in an HTML file but is generated dynamically by the web server from information stored in a database, using templates to produce web pages. It is common for web page to encompass resources from other servers. That is, a request a browser sends to a web server may result in that web server making requests of other servers. These distinctions, however, are immaterial to the user's browser. It just downloads whatever the web server provides without caring how that content was created or who marked it up.

The technological concepts are simple: an open exchange of data and information about that data (metadata), including content and markup. As a connected world of places to visit, the Web is more than a metaphor. The language of the Web, including verbs such as surf, browse, visit, search, explore, and navigate, and nouns such as site, home page, destination, gateway, and forum, creates a very real experience of being someplace.

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