Even though the World Wide Web is only one possible service that uses the Internet, surveys have shown that more than 80 percent of Internet traffic is for the Web. The percentage is likely to grow in the future.
The most remarkable aspect of the World Wide Web arises from its broad appeal. Users form a cross-section of society, including students preparing term papers, physicians researching the latest medical information, and college applicants investigating campuses or even filling out application and financial aid forms online. Other users include investors examining the trading history of a company's stock or evaluating data on various commodities and mutual funds. All the necessary information is available on the Web.
Travelers investigating a possible trip can take virtual tours, check airline schedules and fares, and even book a flight on the Web. Many destinations—including parks, cities, resorts, and hotels—have their own Web sites with guides and local maps. Major delivery companies also have Web sites from which customers can track shipments to determine the location of a package in transit or the time when it was delivered.
Government agencies have Web sites where they post regulations, procedures, newsletters, and tax forms. Many elected officials—including almost all members of the United States Congress—have Web sites, where they express their views, list their achievements, and invite input from the voters. The Web also contains directories of e-mail and postal mail addresses and phone numbers.
Many merchants now do business on the Web. Users can shop at the Web sites of major bookstores as well as clothing sellers and other retailers. Many major newspapers have special Web editions that are updated more frequently than the printed version. In some cases, a Web site will offer basic information to everyone, but provide additional information to users who buy a subscription. The major broadcast networks use the Web to provide supplementary materials for radio and television shows, especially documentaries. Electronic journals in almost every scholarly field are now on the Web. Most museums now offer Web users a virtual tour of their exhibits and holdings. Finally, many individuals have a Web site that describes their family, hobbies, and other personal information.