But the most important way the Web differs from the real world has to do with why sites use hyperlinks. In our example, I put in a link on my page to the Museum because I thought the people coming to my site would find the Museum site interesting. Every link on the Web was created by someone on purpose. Usually it's because the person thinks visitors will find the other site worth their time - perhaps because it's informative, or entertaining, or funny.

This is a most peculiar thing. The Web is a web because of hyperlinks that connect the pages. But every hyperlink expresses someone's interests and recommendations. If you were to make a map of the Web, showing all the sites and all the links, you would be making a map of things the 500 million people on the Web find interesting.

That's a lot different than a map of the real world that shows where the mountains are and where the oceans end and land begins. The real world map shows what we humans have been given to work with. The Web shows what we have chosen to care about.

And that's exactly what's so special about the Web place. It is made not out of mountains, oceans, deserts and forests. It is made out of humans caring about things together.

Links to Explore

The Science of Maps

Maps of the Web

A Map of the Web



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This is a children's version of David Weinberger's book
Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web.
copyright © 2002 David Weinberger