The Internet is a huge part of our life today, yet not many people know the basics about it. Here are some things every tech student must know about the Internet
What is the internet? I have had to ask many students this question over and over; and the answers I get each time never cease to amaze. One of the most popular answers I get is that the internet is an international network. This answer not only depicts shallowness of understanding, but reveals a total ignorance of the concept of networking. Isn't it amazing how often we assume we know the meaning of something because we encounter it often? We often mistake familiarity for knowledge. Familiarity only creates contextual meaning at best, but an absolute understanding of a concept such as the Internet can only be gained by actually studying it. Contextual knowledge may give us an average pass, but excellence lies in knowing the details. Yes, that's what I said - the details.
In this article, I will illustrate the difference between the internet and the world wide web, and give a thorough discussion on the concept of the Internet. The following definition is an extract from the official definition of Internet by Federal Networking Council (October, 1995).
The internet is a global information system consisting of computers that communicate with one another through TCP/IP, its subsequent extensions and/or other IP-compatible protocol.
The web on the other hand is simply a collection of interlinked resources that are accessed through HTTP or FTP over an Internet connection.
By these definitions alone, it is easy to see the distinction between the web and the Internet. The web is just one of the services accessed over the Internet, just like emails and Internet Relay Chats (IRC). The Internet is a more larger concept that should never be used interchangeably with the web. How often do you hear people say that they are browsing the internet, when in actual sense they meant to say they are browsing the web? To browse simply means to surf or search. The internet is a network of computer (referring strictly to the hardware devices). The services accessed through the internet such as web, email are usually software based. we do not browse the Internet, rather we connect to the Internet to browse the web. the Internet is the network that enables us to access these global services.
In networking, no communication can take place without a protocol; just like no communication can take place in life without a language. A language defines the rules for communication between two people. So does a protocol in a network. Web communication uses HTTP and FTP protocols. Email communications uses SMTP and POP3 protocols. and as I mentioned earlier Internet communication is through the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP); which is actually a combination of two protocols...
To be continued... In the concluding part of this article. I will explain TCP/IP, RFC documentation, OSI layers, and the secret on how the Internet works.
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