Tagged: technology

Appreciating the Internet

Do you take the internet for granted?

As I began to ponder what new side of technology I would delve into for this next blog it hit me. Why look into the new workings of the internet when I don’t even know how the internet itself, works. As a kid of the nineties I was raised into a world where the internet was always just there. I wasn’t old enough at the time of its inception to understand how it all began. The internet is something that we all use on a daily basis and most of us probably don’t even know a thing about the workings behind it. It is one of the technological inventions of today that we take for granted without any thought behind whom and what makes it work. Sure, we all know how to use it, were all geniuses at that but to be asked how it “works” and not how to “use” it is the underlying idea. As this knowledge hit me the number of questions that popped into my head astounded me and had me wondering why I never thought of this before.

There were two big questions that I sought to answer:

  1.  How does it physically work in its simplest way? 
  2.  Where did the idea for the internet come from? Who took that idea and invented it?  

Trying to explain to someone one how the internet works in every aspect would be an impossibly arduous task. The best approach to begin with, is to develop a basic foundation of the workings of the internet.

A Beginner’s View on How the Internet Works

There are many complicated mechanics behind powering the internet. To begin to understand how the internet works we begin with establishing a simple idea of how the internet works. Below is a video created by Data Centres Canada to give a simple but thorough image of what the internet is.

Now that you have some idea into how the internet functions this incredibly informative but simplistic infographic from makeuseof.com further explains how the internet works. Click on the image to link to the full infographic.

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As you are now aware, the internet is basically a network of networks connecting computers around the world. There is no single organization or central location that runs it. A term for this is saying that the internet is decentralized. For the internet to function in this capacity there are a few main factors that must be incorporated to keep it going.

1) Rules

For the internet to work without a single origin of function everyone using it must agree to play by the same set of rules. They must agree upon a common language that is to be used to connect and share on the net. This set of rules and language is known as the internet protocol.

2) Addresses

To send information from one device to another we must be able to know where the information going to be sent. This address is known as an IP address. You are assigned an IP address by your internet service provider.

3) Peering

In a world where companies are trying to contend financially with one another the internet stands apart. Internet service providers used to have to pay one another whenever they needed to access information on another network. Thus this increased costs for customers. They discovered if they all agreed to help each other by agreeing to nix the costs that not only the customers but the providers as well, benefit from the mutual agreement of free information exchange.

A Brief History of the Beginning of the Internet

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With a basis of how the internet works, you now can begin to marvel at the prospects of the process it took to create such a complex network system. One of the main concepts behind the innovation of the internet was that it was not just one person who visualized the internet. The internet was an idea brought about through the minds of a group of inventive thinkers.

According to Forbes and How it Works in the 1950’s the United States created an agency through their Department of Defense named DARPA. The goal of DARPA was to construct a network that would allow various computer systems to connect and communicate information between them. DARPA was created with the idea in mind that the network of information between the computers could survive any war efforts. DARPA would soon grow to build the first wide area network known as ARPANET. ARPANET was one of the first major innovations towards the creation of the internet as we know it today.

One of the problems seen by the creators was a way to connect networks that were working on different operating systems. This dilemma began the creation behind a universal set of rules that would allow computers using different systems to connect to one another. This set of rules called a protocol gave rise to two vital protocols still in place for the internet today. They were the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).

In the 1980’s both commercial and private financial support for the project piloted the way for other companies and agencies worldwide to join the internet endeavour. This provided the basis for an amalgamation of many networks worldwide. By the 1990’s the internet was a worldwide sensation that could be seen in almost every facet of our day to day lives.

Below is a video timeline created by the National Media Museum that highlights the major innovations of the internet beginning in the 1970’s till the 1990’s.The video features some of the key innovators behind the invention of the internet.

Internet vs. Web

There is one question that while researching about the internet, I had never contemplated before. It was; what is the difference between the internet and the world-wide web?

Everyone just assumes that the World Wide Web is the internet but it is just the opposite. The web is just one small portion of the internet. According to BBC Newsround the web is a mass of web pages from everywhere and anyone that have made the internet so thrilling. Another program language called HTML is what allows us to use the internet the view almost anything.

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Being able to understand how the internet works and who created it opens up a new appreciation to the access that we all have to the internet every day. The internet wasn’t announced as some major innovation to look out for it sort of just happened. We can only think that it’s lucky it did happen because most of us could not imagine the world today if the internet did not exist.

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