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Students Explore, Enjoy Web

By A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

Seeking to join the global information exchange, many students have tappedinto the World Wide Web, a hypermedia based network of information. Over 700 MIT students provide their own personal "home pages" on the Web using the Athena Computing Environment.

Students interact with the Web by accessing information on computers on and off campus and providing information of their own.

On the Web, information providers can create pages or hypermedia documents for users to access. These documents can contain textual "links" to several other related documents, images, and audio or video clips. These linked documents can be located on the same computer as the original page or anywhere else on the Internet.

The home page, the primary Web document, contains personal information about the author and links to any other interesting Web sites the author has chosen. In some cases, the home page is accompanied by peripheral documents that contain more specific information on a subject or group links to various sites on a specific topic.

The hypertext interface allows users to rapidly navigate from one site to any of the other connected sites. This system of interlinkages is where the Web gets its name.

More than a dozen students who wish to provide more extensive resources choose to run their own Web server on a private computer in their room.

Chee-Kiang Lim G operates a Web site which is dedicated to the alumni of his high school in Singapore. The site contains a list of alumni contact information and provides a means for them to keep in correspondence, Lim said. Lim also offers his former school's quarterly newsletter on-line.

Student groups make use of Web

A large number of student groups and organizations maintain Web sites that provide information for their members and general students. The Lecture Series Committee, for example, provides on-line schedules for their movie offerings.

The Student Information Processing Board maintains a site which provides a wide range of services, including weather, comics, and campus activities. Started in June 1993, the SIPB server was among the first 100 Web servers in the world, said Eri Izawa '92, who helps maintain the SIPB server. The server receives approximately 500,000 connection requests for documents per week, Izawa said.

"Any server can provide access to home pages and information, but we like to think that we have interesting and useful information that is presented in a way that is more aesthetic and entertaining than many other places," Izawa said.

Some campus publications also publish electronic editions, some with photographs and comic strips. The Tech publishes each issue on-line and provides a searchable archive on its Web server, also one of the first 100.

Many other ethnic, service, and performance organizations use the Web for advertising and recruiting members.

Also, several dormitories and independent living groups have Web sites that have been used to provide residents with house rules and social event information. Some also provide a listing of residents.