Internet

The Internet is a worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It is a "network of networks" that consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks, which together carry various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked web pages and other resources of the World Wide Web (WWW).

Terminology
The Internet and the World Wide Web are not one and the same. The Internet is a collection of interconnected computer networks, linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections, etc. In contrast, the Web is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. The World Wide Web is one of the services accessible via the Internet, along with various others including e-mail, file sharing, online gaming and others described below. However, informally "the Internet" is often used to refer to the World Wide Web (an example of synecdoche), and it is listed as a synonym in Roget's New Millennium Thesaurus.
Growth
Although the basic applications and guidelines that make the Internet possible had existed for almost a decade, the network did not gain a public face until the 1990s. On August 6, 1991, CERN, which straddles the border between France and Switzerland, publicized the new World Wide Web project. The Web was invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.
An early popular web browser was ViolaWWW, based upon HyperCard. It was eventually replaced in popularity by the Mosaic web browser. In 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois released version 1.0 of Mosaic, and by late 1994 there was growing public interest in the previously academic, technical Internet. By 1996 usage of the word Internet had become commonplace, and consequently, so had its use as a synecdoche in reference to the World Wide Web.
Meanwhile, over the course of the decade, the Internet successfully accommodated the majority of previously existing public computer networks (although some networks, such as FidoNet, have remained separate). During the 1990s, it was estimated that the Internet grew by 100% per year, with a brief period of explosive growth in 1996 and 1997. This growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary open nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too much control over the network.[citation needed]
University students' appreciation and contributions
New findings in the field of communications during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were quickly adopted by universities across North America.
Examples of early university Internet communities are Cleveland FreeNet, Blacksburg Electronic Village and NSTN in Nova Scotia.[5] Students took up the opportunity of free communications and saw this new phenomenon as a tool of liberation. Personal computers and the Internet would free them from corporations and governments (Nelson, Jennings, Stallman).
Graduate students played a huge part in the creation of ARPANET. In the 1960s, the network working group, which did most of the design for ARPANET's protocols, was composed mainly of graduate students.
Today's Internet
The My Opera Community server rack. From the top, user file storage (content of files.myopera.com), "bigma" (the master MySQL database server), and two IBM blade centers containing multi-purpose machines (Apache front ends, Apache back ends, slave MySQL database servers, load balancers, file servers, cache servers and sync masters).
Aside from the complex physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts (e.g., peering agreements), and by technical specifications or protocols that describe how to exchange data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is essentially defined by its interconnections and routing policies.
As of December 30, 2007, 1.319 billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats. Writing in the Harvard International Review, philosopher N.J. Slabbert, a writer on policy issues for the Washington, D.C.–based Urban Land Institute, has asserted that the Internet is fast becoming a basic feature of global civilization, so that what has traditionally been called "civil society" is now becoming identical with information technology society as defined by Internet use.
Internet protocols
For more details on this topic, see Internet Protocols.
In this context, there are three layers of protocols:
• At the lower level (OSI layer 3) is IP (Internet Protocol), which defines the datagrams or packets that carry blocks of data from one node to another. The vast majority of today's Internet uses version four of the IP protocol (i.e. IPv4), and, although IPv6 is standardized, it exists only as "islands" of connectivity, and there are many ISPs without any IPv6 connectivity.[6] ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) also exists at this level. ICMP is connectionless; it is used for control, signaling, and error reporting purposes.
• TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) exist at the next layer up (OSI layer 4); these are the protocols by which data is transmitted. TCP makes a virtual "connection", which gives some level of guarantee of reliability. UDP is a best-effort, connectionless transport, in which data packets that are lost in transit will not be re-sent.
• The application protocols sit on top of TCP and UDP and occupy layers 5, 6, and 7 of the OSI model. These define the specific messages and data formats sent and understood by the applications running at each end of the communication. Examples of these protocols are HTTP, FTP, and SMTP.
Internet structure
There have been many analyses of the Internet and its structure. For example, it has been determined that the Internet IP routing structure and hypertext links of the World Wide Web are examples of scale-free networks.
Similar to the way the commercial Internet providers connect via Internet exchange points, research networks tend to interconnect into large subnetworks such as:
• GEANT
• GLORIAD
• The Internet2 Network (formally known as the Abilene Network)
• JANET (the UK's national research and education network)
These in turn are built around relatively smaller networks. See also the list of academic computer network organizations.
In network diagrams, the Internet is often represented by a cloud symbol, into and out of which network communications can pass.
Language
For more details on this topic, see English on the Internet.
Further information: Unicode
The prevalent language for communication on the Internet is English. This may be a result of the Internet's origins, as well as English's role as the lingua franca. It may also be related to the poor capability of early computers, largely originating in the United States, to handle characters other than those in the English variant of the Latin alphabet.
After English (31% of Web visitors) the most requested languages on the World Wide Web are Chinese (16%), Spanish (9%), Japanese (7%), German (5%) and French (5%).[7]
By continent, 37% of the world's Internet users are based in Asia, 27% in Europe, 19% in North America, and 9% in Latin America and the Carribean.[8]
The Internet's technologies have developed enough in recent years, especially in the use of Unicode, that good facilities are available for development and communication in most widely used languages. However, some glitches such as mojibake (incorrect display of foreign language characters, also known as kryakozyabry) still remain.
Internet and the workplace
The Internet is allowing greater flexibility in working hours and location, especially with the spread of unmetered high-speed connections and Web applications.
The Internet viewed on mobile devices
The Internet can now be accessed virtually anywhere by numerous means. Mobile phones, datacards, handheld game consoles and cellular routers allow users to connect to the Internet from anywhere there is a cellular network supporting that device's technology.
Common uses of the Internet
E-mail
For more details on this topic, see E-mail.
The concept of sending electronic text messages between parties in a way analogous to mailing letters or memos predates the creation of the Internet. Even today it can be important to distinguish between Internet and internal e-mail systems. Internet e-mail may travel and be stored unencrypted on many other networks and machines out of both the sender's and the recipient's control. During this time it is quite possible for the content to be read and even tampered with by third parties, if anyone considers it important enough. Purely internal or intranet mail systems, where the information never leaves the corporate or organization's network, are much more secure, although in any organization there will be IT and other personnel whose job may involve monitoring, and occasionally accessing, the e-mail of other employees not addressed to them.
The World Wide Web
For more details on this topic, see World Wide Web.

Graphic representation of a minute fraction of the WWW, demonstrating hyperlinks
Many people use the terms Internet and World Wide Web (or just the Web) interchangeably, but, as discussed above, the two terms are not synonymous.
The World Wide Web is a huge set of interlinked documents, images and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. These hyperlinks and URLs allow the web servers and other machines that store originals, and cached copies, of these resources to deliver them as required using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). HTTP is only one of the communication protocols used on the Internet.
Web services also use HTTP to allow software systems to communicate in order to share and exchange business logic and data.
Software products that can access the resources of the Web are correctly termed user agents. In normal use, web browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, access web pages and allow users to navigate from one to another via hyperlinks. Web documents may contain almost any combination of computer data including graphics, sounds, text, video, multimedia and interactive content including games, office applications and scientific demonstrations.
Through keyword-driven Internet research using search engines like Yahoo! and Google, millions of people worldwide have easy, instant access to a vast and diverse amount of online information. Compared to encyclopedias and traditional libraries, the World Wide Web has enabled a sudden and extreme decentralization of information and data.
Using the Web, it is also easier than ever before for individuals and organisations to publish ideas and information to an extremely large audience. Anyone can find ways to publish a web page or build a website for very little initial cost. Publishing and maintaining large, professional websites full of attractive, diverse and up-to-date information is still a difficult and expensive proposition, however.
Many individuals and some companies and groups use "web logs" or blogs, which are largely used as easily updatable online diaries. Some commercial organisations encourage staff to fill them with advice on their areas of specialization in the hope that visitors will be impressed by the expert knowledge and free information, and be attracted to the corporation as a result. One example of this practice is Microsoft, whose product developers publish their personal blogs in order to pique the public's interest in their work.
Collections of personal web pages published by large service providers remain popular, and have become increasingly sophisticated. Whereas operations such as Angelfire and GeoCities have existed since the early days of the Web, newer offerings from, for example, Facebook and MySpace currently have large followings. These operations often brand themselves as social network services rather than simply as web page hosts.
Advertising on popular web pages can be lucrative, and e-commerce or the sale of products and services directly via the Web continues to grow.
In the early days, web pages were usually created as sets of complete and isolated HTML text files stored on a web server. More recently, websites are more often created using content management system (CMS) or wiki software with, initially, very little content. Contributors to these systems, who may be paid staff, members of a club or other organisation or members of the public, fill underlying databases with content using editing pages designed for that purpose, while casual visitors view and read this content in its final HTML form. There may or may not be editorial, approval and security systems built into the process of taking newly entered content and making it available to the target visitors.
Remote access
Further information: Remote access
The Internet allows computer users to connect to other computers and information stores easily, wherever they may be across the world. They may do this with or without the use of security, authentication and encryption technologies, depending on the requirements.

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