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What is the Internet?

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To answer the question of what is the Internet? you have to think of the millions of computer networks in the world that connect to it.

It is made up of many computers, routers and servers. All of these connections exist to for the sake of sharing information. It is a broadcast medium for anyone in the world. The internet allows everyone to:

  • Exchange e-mail with anyone in the world
  • Connect easily using desktops, laptops and phones
  • Access multimedia information like audio, images and videos
  • Sell products and services across the globe
  • Read and publish any news about anything
  • Keep in touch with friends and family

The Internet can also be called “the net”.

Not many laws if any govern the Internet’s content. You can connect to the Internet through a private Internet service provider, a public Wi-Fi network, or through your office's network.

So what is the Internet to you?

The Internet allows you to access news and gossip, it lets you read and follow your favorite sports team or shop online and trade stocks. The Internet can be used to chat using instant messengers and also share files. What is it that you can’t do on the Internet today?

Brief History of the Internet

The Internet started in the 1960’s and was name ARPAnet. It was originally a project of the U.S. Department of Defense to maintain communications in case of a possible nuclear strike. This network later on connected university mainframe computers along with scientists and the government in order to share research and stay connected with e-mail. During the 1980’s and 1990’s as computers were rising in popularity, users would get access to the Internet and today the Internet is a public web of millions of network devices.

The “Web”

What is the Internet? Well the millions of HTML pages on the Internet create a large part of it. The World Wide Web can be viewed by using a software called a web browser. Windows operating systems include a free browser called Internet Explorer. You can download many other free ones like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

The web is based on a language called HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This language allows anyone to access a public web page.

The “Net” is not the same as the “Web”. Many people interchange the expression but it is not the same thing. The web is one part of the net. The Internet is made up of many subnetworks.

The biggest one is the World Wide Web and the other ones are email, instant messaging, P2P file sharing and FTP downloading.

Other Parts of the Internet....

There are other subnetworks other than the World Wide Wide included in the Internet..

These include:

  • E-mail
  • Instant Messaging
  • FTP
  • P2P


Email is a subnetwork inside the Internet. Users exchange emails daily, along with file attachments. Email can provide a great way to have a paper trail of conversations. Be careful though, opening an email can download a virus to your computer or network. You boss wouldn't be too happy if the network was attacked.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging or IM is like “live” email. You can communicate with anyone in the world through text and pictures. Some popular instant messengers include

  • Windows Live messenger
  • Yahoo Messenger

These IM programs allow you to join “chatrooms” where you can meet other people around the world. In corporate offices, IM can be a distraction as well as a very useful communication tool to reach other co-workers faster than picking up the phone or sending them a written document. These IM programs allow you to share audio, video, images and documents as attachments. You can use a web camera to video chat and join online conference calls.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a network protocol used to transfer files from one host to another host over the Internet. This protocol can be used to publish web pages for web masters and it can be used to upload or download files from the Internet.


Peer-to-Peer Sharing (P2P) is based on the cooperative sharing of thousands of individual users. The users download a P2P program and start sharing their music files, video files and programs. The way it works is that each user shares little bits at a time. This is barely legal in the USA and can lead to users being sued by the Music and Movie industries.

What is the Internet? Is Social Media the Internet?

At home and work, most people use the Internet for social networking. Social Networking is about meeting and maintaining communication with your friends, co-workers and family. Through a web page, you can gather your friends and exchange daily greetings and pictures. Some examples of popular social networking sites are:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIN
Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin

Social networking sites are very popular because they let you interact with anyone while you share your ideas and experiences. You can post pictures and connect with people of similar interests. You can even follow a celebrity’s postings.

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