Note: Background Image is an artistic visualization of the Internet by Gleich

Wading Through the Web

Before the introduction of search engines on the web, users had to either memorize the numerical URLs (or address) for commonly used sites or follow hyperlinks until they found the desired page.

Activity 00309-02: Wikiracing

Purpose: To understand the importance of search engines.

Materials: Paper and writing utensil

Estimated Time: 5 minutes

In this activity, you will be using the website Wikipedia in order to understand the difficulty of following hyperlinks to find a
desired page. Wikipedia is a good "small" representation of the WWW in that it has many topics, but is closed so that you cannot accidentally end up outside of Wikipedia while only using hyperlinks within the site (just as you cannot follow a hyperlink to a
space outside of the web).


1. Choose any topic you would like to research (or use Subject 1's topic). Be as specific or as general as you like.

2. Go to the Wikipedia site and click on the "Random article" link in the left column of the page.

3. Now, following only hyperlinks, try to find information about your chosen subject.

4. Count the number of followed hyperlinks. The "back" button counts as a hyperlink.

Subject 1:

1. Hello Kitty

4. 25 hyperlinks - quit at Japanese commerce


1. Did you find exactly what you wanted or did you accept a close match?

2. Why is the existence of search engines so invaluable to the usefulness of the web?

Now that you have an appreciation of search engines like Google, we need to explain how you arrived at the rankings of Activity 00309-01.

Again, your answers will be sent to the Subject Processing Department.
Be sure to print out or write down your answers to the questions before clicking "Submit".

[Letter] [Activity 00309-01] [Internet History] [Back to Top]

[Glossary] [Concept Answers] [Alphabetical Glossary] [Contact Author]

This material is based upon work supported by National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0546622.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the
author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.