The InternetWhat is a web browser and what does it do for you exactly?

It’s been a while since we did a new entry in the “What is…” series, but it seems like it is definitely time for it.  It’s easy to forget some days that terms you take for granted our ones that no one else seems to know.  Google recently went out on the streets of Times Square and asked people what they thought a “browser” was, and shockingly only 8% of people knew the correct answer.

The basic concept is simple, and Wikipedia does a great job of summing it up in just one sentence.

A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web.

The general answers in the video, which we posted below, seem to have most people confusing a search engine with a browser, but a search engine is a Web page and the browser is how you get to that page.  So when you click on an icon on your desktop such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, that is the browser.

I know this seems like such a small difference, but knowing your terms is the first step to knowing your way through a computer with as little confusion as possible.

Categories: Web Browsing, What Is   
 

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. David de Beer
    June 21st, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    to be honest, not long ago I probably wouldn't have known the difference either. If you're not using something on a semi-regular basis, and the people who do tend to just speak in jargon accepting that you know what they're talking about (and, as I've seen happen on forums sometimes, deride and mock people who don't know for not knowing so they just give up in trying to educate themselves), then it's easy to be confused as to the difference between simple things, like browsers vs search engines in the example above.
    My dad still has trouble understanding the difference between a hard drive and operating system, or what value your PC's memory has. It's not he's stupid, it's just that no one took the time to explain it to him. Like my super-geek friends did for me.

    Posts like this are invaluable for precisely those reasons and I want to say thank you for taking the time to patiently explain very common and simple things in terms an average person can understand. There's a lot of value to what you're doing here and I hope you continue.

    Incidentally, I had a bitch of a time logging in with my ID account and I don't know why. Problem could be on my side, though.

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