The single biggest problem on the web today is the lack of content. Things aren't as bad as they were three years ago, but there are still hundreds of pages on the web that offer nothing but links to other pages that house useful content, and most of those links point to pages that are simply more lists of links.
<p> I've noticed that there seem to be only three to five truly different sites on any given subject. The hundreds of others merely replicate that content, by copying it directly from its original source, or else by directing users to that content by providing links as explained above. </p> <p> The latter are not true "web sites" per se, but rather, to use the current buzzword, "portals" to content. I do not indict true portal sites in this problem, however. A "true" portal's purpose is to direct users to other sites of interest in a catalogued and researched manner. <a href="http://www.Go.com" title="Go.com">Go.com</a>, <a href="http://www.Yahoo.com" title="Yahoo.com">Yahoo.com</a>, and even <a href="http://www.Jough.com" title="Jough.com">Jough.com</a> are all portal sites, in that their homepages offer little content but the base network that the designers control does provide actual content. Link sites differ in that they do not provide content, but only links (many of which are outdated or "broken"). </p> <p> So, a "web site" is any collection of pages that provide content. It's important to note that what constitutes a web site is a unified <em>collection</em> of pages and not just a bunch of pages that happen to be in the same directory. </p> <p> A good model for the nature of the web is the Library Model, although the web differs from a library in several key ways. In the Library Model, a web site is like a book. Each HTML file is a "page" of that book and that "book" is the site as a whole. Some web sites, such as search engine sites, or directories like Yahoo, are like phone books. These sites differ from the "link list" sites because they understand that it is not the links themselves, but rather the <em> structure and indexing</em> of those links that makes their sites valuable. Of course, sites such as these provide <em>services</em> rather than <em>content</em>. </p> <p> So if a web site is like a book, a "network" of sites is like a shelf. Each of the books are related, just as each of the pages in each individual book are focused on a common theme. The structure of the web itself would be the library. </p> <p> Of course, new media require new modes of thinking. The web is not a library, and should not be treated as such if it means disregarding the advantages and uniqueness of this new medium. It would be impractical for a library to offer you only a single page of a single book when you first entered, but on the web you can place content on your homepage (such as this essay) and people <em>expect</em> to find content. </p> <p> "Content," in this case, is either text or other multimedia files (sounds, images, videos, etc.) that provide information. Content may be in the form of news stories, rants, essays, fiction, poetry... you name it. The ultimate purpose of any web site is to deliver content. The web is a large, difficult to navigate mess. Don't be a part of the problem. Provide unique content. </p>