OJ: Understanding the Internet and how it works

Understand the internet, Internet vs internet, browser, domain name, hosting, website (design- HTML, CSS, php,Mysql), content management systems.

You can listen to this unit here


—The Internet is a worldwide collection of digital networks, cooperating with each other to exchange data using a common software standard (http, ftp etc), which ensure uniform and efficient communication across the world. Also called the World Wide Web.

example of a web page
example of a web page

Contrary to popular belief, these two terms do not mean the same thing. The Internet refers to the network of connected computers that share information. The World Wide Web refers to a way of accessing information through the Internet using the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and Web browsers. It does not include other protocols such as e-mail, instant messaging and file transfer (FTP).

The internet is a media/ channel of communication, just like the newspaper, radio or television.However, the internet is different as we shall see in the next chapter.

Internet is no longer a connection of computer networks as many people these days use other devices like phones, camera, tv, ipods etc to connect to the internet. While Internet is the global interconnection of digital devices, internet is the signal we use to connect to the Internet (got from ISPs or Internet Service Providers).

Browsers (like firefox mozilla, google chrione, safari, opera etc) are the vehicles we use to reach the internet and make sense of it (read the html-the language used to make webpages).

But when many people say they are going to the internet or find something on the internet, they are indeed referring to a website where particular information can be found or which someone can do to access particular functionality. any website needs to have a domain name (web address) and be hosted by a hosting provider like UMC.

A Web server is a special type of computer that stores and distributes/presents information over the Internet.
But how does it know which information to serve? The URL (uniform resource locator) or Web address is the key and is very similar to how you receive mail at your home or office. Although you recognize a Web address likehttp://www.yahoo.com, Web servers know that location as That’s the IP address (IP = Internet Protocol), which is a unique, numeric identity of a Web server location. All Web addresses have corresponding IP addresses that computers recognize but people never would. Registering a domain name secures a human-readable Web address and associates it with a numeric and computer friendly IP address.

Note that these days some people can access the internet and indeed a website without having to go to a browser and trying in the web address (read domain), but through an app (application) designed specifically for the purpose of making it easy to access a particular website and its functionalities.

A domain name or web address can tell you much about the website you are about to access or you are on. Every country has its own domain- a website ending with .ug tells the domain name is registered in Uganda, while .uk, is United Kingdom, .ke is Kenya, .za is South Africa etc. In addition to country domains, there are organisational domains- a domain having .ac.ug or ac.uk .ac.ke indicates it is for an academic institution, while .or or .org indicates its in a non profit organisation, and .co.ug, co.uk indicates its a commercial company, and .go.ug, .go.ke indicates its a government domain. All domains ending with three letters e.g .com (commercial), .org (non profit), .edu (education institution), .net (network) are registered in the United States. You can however register a domain in any country, but it will operate under the laws of that country where it is register. A domain name has got to be renewed each year by paying a fee determined by ICAN (international committee of assigned names) or the hosting service provider. The hosting service is also usually renewed in annual packages.

History of the Internet

According to wikipedia.com, the internet consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), the infrastructure to support email, and peer-to-peer networks for file sharing andtelephony.

internet censorship map
Internet censorship map. Green shows less or no, purple widespread censorship. (Source: Wikipedia)

The origins of the Internet date back to research commissioned by the United States government in the 1960s to build robust, fault-tolerant communication via computer networks. This work, combined with efforts in the United Kingdom and France, led to precursor networks such as ARPANET in the United States and CYCLADES in France. The interconnection of regional academic networks in the 1980s marks the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet. From the early 1990s, the network experienced sustained exponential growth as generations of institutional, personal, and mobile computers were connected to it.

The funding of a new U.S. backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. Though the Internet has been widely used by academia since the 1980s, the commercialization of what was by the 1990s an international network resulted in its popularization and incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern human life. As of June 2012, more than 2.4 billion people—over a third of the world’s human population—have used the services of the Internet; approximately 100 times more people than were using it in 1995. Internet use grew rapidly in the West from the mid-1990s to early 2000s and from the late 1990s to present in the developing world. In 1994 only 3% of American classrooms had access to the Internet while by 2002 92% did.

Most traditional communications media including telephone, music, film, television, and video gaming are being reshaped or redefined by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol television(IPTV). Newspaper, book, and other print publishing are adapting to website technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, andsocial networking. Online shopping has boomed both for major retail outlets and small artisans and traders. Business-to-businessand financial services on the Internet affect supply chains across entire industries.

The Internet has no centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own policies. Only the overreaching definitions of the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol address space and the Domain Name System (DNS), are directed by a maintainer organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols is an activity of theInternet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise.[8] more

The video below is on introduction to the internet

This video below gives more on what the internet is

The video below shows how the internet works


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