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Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)

--by Max Metral

Uniform Resource Locators are gigabytes of information available via the World Wide Web. The problem is, there's no master index, no yellow pages, and no road map. As a result, it can be quite difficult to find a specific piece of information. Furthermore, there is a lot of incredible work out there that may go unnoticed unless you know where to look. Here's a categorized list of some URLs that contains useful and/or entertaining information. As always, these are just starting points. The only way to really catch the wave is to jump from these pages to others you may find interesting.

Most of the URLs presented here reference HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) sites. URLs can reference many other types of data as well. The general structure of URLs is as follows:

Protocol_Type:Resource Location

Protocol_Type can be one of the following strings (among others):


HyperText Transfer Protocol


File Transfer Protocol






Netword News Transfer Protocol

Each protocol type has a slightly different format for its Resource Location portion.


Resource Location = //server name/document path

HTTP and FTP share the same format in almost all cases (see the URL specification for the differences). For example, to refer to document people/bill.html on server, you use the URL


<Resource Location> = //<server name>/<type><selector string>

The type field is a single character that is used by the gopher protocol to determine the type of the document. The default type is 1. The rest of the path is the document or resource selector string, as described in the Gopher+ protocol. For example, to access the root document at server, you use the URL: gopher://


Resource Location = //username:password@server name

On most systems, opening a Telnet URL merely launches an external Telnet application and allows you to connect from there. For example, to connect to as coolguy, you use the URL: telnet://


Resource Location = newsgroup:first article-last article

Most browsers will have you set a preference that tells it which server to query against for News URLs. Each server has its own identifiers for each article, so it's usually best to first ask for a list of current articles by omitting the <first> and <last> keywords. For example, to ask for the current articles in alt.flame, you use the URL: news:alt.flame.

A more detailed description of URLs can be found at:

Standard Fare

There are several sites that almost everyone who has browsed the Web has seen. Because of this, expect traffic on these sites to be heavy and access times to be slow.

The Home of the World Wide Web

CERN (translation: European Laboratory for Particle Physics) is the originator of the World Wide Web project. To find information about the origins of the Web and information about obtaining servers and clients, read the following.

Mosaic Demo Document

You just unzipped, untar'ed, or unstuffed your version of Mosaic and you want to see what this puppy can do. Go to the demo document and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Of course, you may be a bit disappointed that 100,000 other people are trying to be surprised at the same time (so be patient).

NCSA What's New Page

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications was the birthplace of Mosaic, a huge catalyst in the popularity of the Web. It has become the standard place to "announce yourself." When new servers come online, many of them will show up in the What's New page.

The Best of the Web '94

The Academy Awards of the Internet, the Best of the Web, has only been around since 1994. However, this has been an explosive year in Web growth, and there are many incredible sites out there. Some of them are honored here. You can also find information about the founders of the Web project and the Mosaic project.

Weather Data

MIT's server provides textual data from the National Weather Service. If you don't have forms, you can ask for a city by appending ?CITY to the URL. For example, to retrieve San Francisco, you ask for

Weather Images

WX-MAP can retrieve surface map images (in GIF form) for many stations across the world. Via Mosaic Forms, you can request different types of maps. Figure A.1 shows a sample map.

Figure A.1. A sample satellite image from

World Wide Web for Dummies

This page teaches you the basics of the Web, without all the jargon.

Meta-Information: Finding What You Want

The biggest problem and asset of the Web is the fact that there is no central "root." There is no definitive source at which you can search the Web. However, several ways of finding information have arisen:

CUI's W3 Catalog

From the page itself: "W3 Catalog is a searchable catalog of W3 resources build up from a number of manually maintained lists available on the WWW. There is some redundancy amongst the various sources, but a bit of noise seems acceptable to increase your chances of finding what you're looking for."

Destination Unknown

The only word that truly fits Destination Unknown is "hip." The art is crisp and modern and the interfaces are visually attractive. What's more, the information is pretty good, too.

EINet Galaxy

Galaxy is another searchable index of Web documents made available by EINet. EINet supports electronic commerce by connecting organizations electronically. They also make Web browsers for the Macintosh and Windows.

Special Internet Connections

The SIC index contains pointers to Internet services in general, not just Web documents. They are indexed by category. While not an attempt to construct a complete index, it does have many useful and enjoyable links.

The World Wide Web Virtual Library

The WWWVL provides a storehouse of information about other Web sites indexed by category.

Yahoo: A Guide to WWW

Yahoo contains about 10,000 entries in a searchable database. The entries are organized by categories, but also in other ways. You can browse "What's New," "What's Popular," and "What's Cool." You can also ask for a random URL, somewhat like a new word for the day.

People's Hot Lists

Many people have spent months surfing the Web. Some have published links to their favorite pages for you to follow. Here are some of the best.

Christian Bartholdsson

Jeff Van Dyke

Andy Eskilsson

Matthew Gray

Web Robots

Every day, dozens of automated systems are running around the Web following hot-links and classifying everything they see. They can then enable you to search these automatically built indices by keywords, subject, header, and so on.


The WebCrawler wanders the Web and collects information about document content and structure. You can search by keyword, and a list of links is retrieved. You can also access the Top 25 List, which shows the most referenced links in the Web. There is also a list of other Web indices.

World Wide Web Worm (WWWW)

The Worm roams the Web and constructs a searchable index by title and keyword. If you publish your own page, you can tell the Worm about it so that it can find it quickly.

WWW Home Pages Broker

The WWW Home Pages Broker is an index of over 5,000 WWW pages. The broker uses the Harvest protocol, which attempts to index pages by content. By filling out the form provided, you can search the known pages for specific keywords.

Computer Companies and Information

If you're browsing the Web, you're likely doing it by computer. Therefore, computer companies have jumped aboard to help you get press releases, product information, and even support through the Web.


Press releases, product information, user groups, and pointers to shareware sites are just a few of the offerings of Apple's server.


Microsoft's server is fairly new, but has a wealth of information about the company. You can also browse the employment opportunities.


Novell has made its technical supports databases available via the Web. They've also developed a very intuitive bookshelf interface to their server. The server presents you with an image of the bookshelf, and then interprets your mouse click to select the proper book.

Silicon Graphics

See listing in the "Graphics" section of this chapter.

Electronic Commerce

No information superhighway would be complete without someone trying to make money. Although the Internet has its roots in nonprofit organizations, commercial providers and services are sprouting up left and right.


CommerceNet is an ambitious project to bring commercial services to the Internet. Eventually, CommerceNet will provide secure protocols to buy and sell goods using Mosaic and the Web. Currently, you can browse company information, product offerings, and product specifications of dozens of companies.

List of Commercial Web Services

This server from MIT maintains a list of commercial services on the Web. From flower shops to cellular phones, it's out there. You can also obtain a list of the newest commercial services.

Internet Shopping Network

The ISN allows you to buy computer hardware and software using Mosaic. You subscribe to the ISN and supply your billing information over the secure medium of the telephone line. From then on, you can order products by supplying a membership number. Soon, ISN hopes to use CommerceNet technology to do secure transactions over the Internet.


With the arrival of the first technologically literate White House, the government is beginning to come online. Several local governments and much of the federal government are discovering that the Internet is an amazingly effective way to reach their constituents.

California Bay Area Governments Online

Being the home of Silicon Valley, you would assume that the Bay Area Governments would be highly wired. You would be correct. In fact, in the police station in Mountain View, there are public terminals connected to the Web. For an excellent example of what government information on the Web could be, see San Carlos' home page:


That's right, the FBI is online. Currently, they are using the Web to disseminate information about unsolved crimes and offer rewards for information.

House of Representatives




With the arrival of the first technologically literate White House, the government is beginning to come online. Several local governments and much of the federal government are discovering that the Internet is an amazingly effective way to reach their constituents.

Among other things, these sites contain the e-mail addresses of many congressmen, and usually at least their telephone numbers.

Library Of Congress


Sooner or later, the entire contents of the Library Of Congress will be online. In the meantime, LOC is gearing up by putting card catalogs and other information into electronic form.


NASA has put an incredible amount of information online. You can browse images of the Jupiter comet collision, space shuttle missions, and even look at the moon landing.

The White House


Unfortunately, you can't have a chat with the President yet, but you can browse information about the budget, health care, and other White House affairs. You can even look at the President's daily schedule.

Graphics/Visual Exhibits

Information is clearly the main benefit of being wired, but let's face it—graphics are the coolest part. When a techno-nonbeliever walks up to your machine, show them one of these sites. They may run out in a rash attempt to get wired.

Dinosaur Exhibit

Browse this award-winning exhibit before or after watching your favorite dinosaur film. You can even get a narrated tour!

Figure A.2. The always scary Tyrannosaurus Rex from the Hawaiian exhibit.

The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a hands-on museum in San Francisco.

Figure A.3. At the Exploratorium, you can tour an interactive science museum.


LEGO has long been a supporter of new technologies, and it has ties with many educational institutions. The LEGO site has pictures of home-built constructions, instructions on how to make cool things, and even information on LEGO robots. If you have sound support, check out the LEGO theme song.

Silicon Graphics

It's a computer company, but this server has great graphics. Of course, that's no surprise from the de facto standard in the making of production quality computer graphics.

The Vatican Exhibit

This award-winning site was one of the first exhibits available on the Web. The Vatican exhibit presents many of the Vatican Library's books, maps, and manuscripts. Originally, the exhibit was tied to a real exhibit in the Library of Congress in 1993. The online version will remain working indefinitely.

The Virtual Hospital

Ever wanted to try your hand at medicine without the years of medical school? Here's a safe way to do so. They don't have patient simulations just yet, but they're on the way. In the meantime, you can brush up on your knowledge with the Multimedia Textbooks on a variety of medical topics. In reality, the Virtual Hospital is a clearinghouse of information on state-of-the-art medicine for use by medical professionals.

The WebLouvre

The WebLouvre won the "Best Use of Multiple Media" Award in the "Best of Web'94" contest, and for good reason. While not connected with Le Louvre, WebLouvre attempts to show multimedia exhibits of the quality that would be seen in the "real Louvre."

Online Publications

The Web is well-suited to online publications. You can read at your own pace, skip around between sections, and look at supporting materials with a simple click. Interesting note: The reason reading the screen seems slower and more cumbersome than paper is that the contrast of paper is much better than current monitor technology.

Books Online

There are numerous books on the Internet, and this site contains pointers to many of them. You can search by title or author, as well as browse. Titles include the Bible, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Art of War. Some are even in HTML format. There are also books that are not published anywhere else, such as Bruce Sterling's Hacker Crackdown.

Dr. Fun

An eclectic cartoon in the spirit of the Far Side, Dr. Fun is updated every day. It's a great way to start a day's work.

Encyclopedia Britannica

The staple of school report writing, the Encyclopedia Britannica has come online. They do not yet offer public search of their proprietary data, but there is a fair amount of information available in searchable form.

Global News Network (GNN)

One of the most professional pages and services on the Web, GNN is an attempt to stretch the magazine metaphor into the Web and domains. Published by O'Reilly and Associates, GNN allows non-subscribers to browse parts of the magazine, or subscribe by filling out a simple form.

Mondo 2000


While not strictly "on the Web," Mondo 2000 maintains a Gopher presence that is accessible through the Web.

PowerPC News

From the page itself: "PowerPC News is a free electronic magazine for the Internet Community. It is published every two weeks via e-mail, and is read by over 25,000 readers worldwide. We don't clutter up your mailbox with the whole issue; instead, readers are just sent the contents page, and can retrieve the stories that they want."


The magazine that has seemingly swept the Inter-nation, Wired has had a Web site since nearly the beginning. The full contents for each issue (sans layout and graphics) is available. Some would say it is easier to read from the Web than the brightly colored pages of the magazine.


VIBE is a magazine that deals with urban music and American youth culture. As such, the next logical step is a Web presence. You can choose from a high bandwidth image based interface, or a low bandwidth text interface. You can browse articles, music reviews, and sound snippets from upcoming albums.

Schools and Universities

Some of the first organizations to get onto the Web were colleges and universities. As such, they've had more time to polish their bits and make truly useful servers.

Carnegie Mellon University

Several departments at CMU have put information on the Web. Some servers are: EnviroWeb, a student run server that deals with environmental issues; Human Computer Interaction, which deals with user interfaces and has a list of software tools for constructing them; and EnglishServer, which provides works in all areas of Arts and Humanities.

MIT and

MIT has an official server(web) as well as a student run server(www). You can also access many student's home pages from either of these servers.


Stanford has put together one of the most complete University Web servers. From registration to restaurants in the area, it's on the Web.

Honolulu Community College

You may chuckle, but HCC was one of the first institutions to dive head long into the World Wide Web. You can access school maps, class information, and even a dinosaur exhibit. The dinosaur exhibit is featured in the "Best of the Web '94" collection.


Along with graphics, sound is becoming widespread in the Web. With more home machines able to play CD-quality audio, sound will likely be a much more utilized tool.

Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA)

The IUMA has received incredible press coverage. IUMA provides a medium to distribute "commercial-quality" music over the Web.


RG provides music charts, sound samples, and reviews of current dance music. RG also provides information about the equipment used in the making and performance of dance music.

Wired Radio Stations

Many radio stations (mostly college) have Web servers that provide charts, song information, membership information, and so on.

Artist Information

Can't remember the name of that song your favorite artist put out four years ago? Need the lyrics to that latest Madonna song to write your next love letter? No problem. There are many fans out there who have taken the time to gather information about artists and make it available electronically.

Tori Amos

Anything Box

Beastie Boys

Eric Clapton

Jane's Addiction'sAddiction.html

Billy Joel



Wilson Phillips

Frank Zappa


Sports pages contain information about schedules, players, rules, and many other aspects of the game. It's not surprising that soccer seems to be the most popular sport on the Web—it is, after all, the World Wide Web.

Sports on the Web




Fantasy Baseball



Surfing (Water-Based)


Who says business and the Internet don't mix?

Security APL and Data Transmission Network

EDGAR Dissemination Project

From the page itself: "The Internet EDGAR Dissemination project will allow you to receive any 1994 filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission that are available to the public. Nonelectronic filings, filings that are not available to the public, and any data prior to 1994 will not be available here." is a commercial service that offers financial market data. With the monthly subscription fee, currently $9.95, you can get a limited number of stock quotes, get news about stocks, and manage your portfolio (no buying or selling). provides a "stock alarm" service that notifies you by e-mail if and when a stock goes above or below a certain price.

MIT AI Lab Stock Project

The MIT AI Lab is experimenting with online historical and timely information about stocks. This site can generate history graphs and current price data for over 300 stocks, mostly computer and media stocks.

Figure A.4. A graph of Paramount stock from the MIT server.


"The Internet Resource for Individual Investors." NETWorth stores mutual fund information, performance reports, and prospectuses.


These sites didn't seem to fit in any of the other categories, but were worth mentioning nonetheless. When you're in the mood for general surfing, check them out.

Boston Computer Society Internet SIG

The Boston Computer Society provides a Special Interest Group (SIG) for those interested in finding out about the Internet and how to use it. Meeting information and minutes can be found on this page.

Cardiff's Movie Database

Here you can search a database of over 31,000 movies and find out who directed, starred, or designed the costumes. You can also rate movies and view others' ratings. Also at this site is a "this day in history" service that tells you which celebrities were born or died on a given day.

Fax Gateway

Want to send a fax free? The Internet FAX Server is an attempt to link the Facsimile and electronic mail worlds together "seamlessly." By using a collection of local fax servers, the Internet Fax Server routes your fax to the appropriate local fax machine and avoids long distance charges. If your e-mail system can support MIME, you can send images and other complex data types.


htMUD is an attempt to link the world of Multi-User Dungeons (muds) to the Web. The concept is that you interact using Telnet, and view your surroundings in full multimedia glory in Mosaic. While it will take some configuration hacking and program installation, htMUD is an excellent attempt at linking two of the most popular services on the Internet.

Usenet FAQs

There are thousands of Usenet news groups. Most have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. You can browse and search them through this page. Most are in standard text form, but some have been "hyperized."

Why the Web Sucks

Just as you're all excited about being wired and getting on the Web, someone writes about how bad it is. There are many good points in this very interesting view on the problems of the Web. Just because it's easy to put up something for the whole world to see, does that really mean you have something interesting to say?

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