What is the Internet?
We all use it, we all love it but what even is the internet? It’s hard to imagine our modern life without it but most of us have no real understanding of what the internet really is. We’re here to change that for once and for all. Let’s take a look at the most popular questions people have about the internet and break down one of the world’s greatest inventions, using understandable language.
What is the internet and why do we use it?
We use the internet to store and share information between devices. What’s special about it is that it is only useful as long as we, the people, put information on it. The Internet and cyberspace are a combination of devices and people behind them. Everything that we’ve come to love about the internet has been made possible through the involvement of humans and the tools that the internet provides for sharing it. But on a more simplistic level, what is the internet physically?
Most people, even in powerful positions, have a hard time explaining what the internet really is. Some may choose an overly detached and oftentimes misleading way to describe the internet. This was the case with the U.S Senator, Ted Stevens. “It’s not a truck. it’s a series of tubes” - said Stevens. This sentence would haunt him for years to come, because of his overly simplistic understanding of the internet. So even people who should have a very clear idea of what the internet is, often don’t get it. That is partly because It’s hard to define what the internet is exactly. This is a realm of computer networks in which information is stored and exchanged. This is an information environment, the one that has made our understanding of the world much more broad and accessible. But what led to the creation of the Internet as we know it today?
How did the internet come to be?
Before the Internet - there was ARPANET- Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. It was initially created to connect computers at Pentagon-funded research institutions over telephone lines. As one would expect, ARPANET came with a lot of the security concerns we are still fighting today. The 1998 attack on ARPANET would push the people behind the technology to start thinking about security, specifically the security concerns that come with having a network connection. But to answer the question ARPANET is a predecessor of the internet as we know it today.
Can we measure the internet?
That is a loaded question because it depends on what aspect of the internet you’re curious about. As highlighted in the paragraph about the definition of the internet, it is a complicated system with multiple facets, features, and uses. The CEO of Google has said that the world’s largest index of the internet, estimated to be roughly 5 million terabytes of data - over 5 billion gigabytes of data. But it turns out you can also measure how much the internet weighs, and according to The Guardian it weighs roughly 60 grams or 0.2 millionths of an ounce, depending on which technique you use to measure it out.
How does the Internet work?
As described above, the Internet is a network of computers. This means that for it to do what it is supposed to, you need to have a network. There are two types of computer networks. Local Area Network (LAN), where two or more computers are connected within close proximity. These computers are sharing the data within themselves exclusively. But then there’s also a Wide Area Network (WAN). A WAN is virtually the same as LAN but involves computers that can be further apart and still remain part of the computer network. In the case of WAN, data can be shared via satellite, telephone lines, as well as fiber optics. This network connection is open and is usually associated with the Internet.
What is the Internet made of?
The Internet is information and it is mostly stored in files, specifically in the HTML document program. All our websites are basically HTML files that our computers read and then display as the web pages that we are actually used to seeing.
How do we get to different websites?
In order for this network connection to work, they need a server - a computer that will run the software and store the information that it will then share with computers that request it. This is why, when we want to go to a website we type In the URL and request information from that website’s server. Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is basically the address of the website, it’s a place on the internet that is exclusive to that particular website. After you’ve been granted access you will then get to see that webpage on your screen, browse its pages, look up information, and so on.
What is the difference between the WWW and the Internet?
While we are often tempted to use these two interchangeably, that is not really accurate. The Internet is a network of computers that are connected to each other across the world. Meanwhile, The World Wide Web, while a part of the Internet, is just one aspect of it. It is a collection of all the websites that exist across the Internet.
What’s the future of the Internet?
As wonderful as the internet is, it is not a safe haven. There are a lot of security threats, a lot of risky developments and challenges that we need to watch out for. There is a growing trend of disregard for individual privacy, individual rights online, and what we as users are entitled to in cyberspace. One of the tools you can use to reclaim your rights online is BlufVPN, a Virtual Private Network which provides the anonymity and security that every user should be entitled to. While these conversations are becoming more and more popular, just talking about them won’t fix much. It is every user’s personal responsibility to put up safeguards against the much-too common denominators and ensure that they are not being taken advantage of by the big tech companies.