What is the Internet?

The Internet is an integral part of our every day lives. But if you are new to the online experience, it may be a bit overwhelming. So what exactly is the Internet, and how does it work?

The Internet today

In the early days, most people just used the Internet to search for information. Today's Internet is a constantly evolving tool that not only contains an amazing variety of information but that also provides new ways of accessing, interacting and connecting with people and content.

Here are a few common terms you might encounter online today:

  • VoIP - VoIP stands for "Voice over Internet Protocol". It's also known as internet telephone. Users can have telephone service over an internet connection rather than from a standard phone line. One example of this service is Skype.
  • Email - Short for Electronic Mail, it's a system for sending and receiving messages online.
  • Blog - "Blog" is short for "web log". It's a type of website that is usually updated frequently, often with news articles or random thoughts. Some sites, such as blogger.com or wordpress.com allow you to create and edit your own blog for free.
  • Social Networking - Social networking refers to online services that allow people to interact with each other and stay connected with friends, family and people around the world. Examples of social networking sites include Facebook and Twitter.

What is the Internet?

The Internet is the largest computer network in the world, connecting millions of computers. A network is a group of two or more computer systems linked together.

The World Wide Web

When most people think of the Internet, the first thing they think about is the World Wide Web. Nowadays, the terms "Internet" and "World Wide Web" are often usted interchangeably, but they are actually not the same thing.

  • The Internet is the physical network of computers all over the world.
  • The World Wide Web is a virtual network of websites connected by hyperlinks (or "links"). Websites are stored on severs on the Internet, so the World Wide Web is part of the Internet.

URL

To get to a webpage, you can type the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) into a browser. The URL, also known as the web address, tells the browser exactly where to find the page. However, most of the time, people get to a webpage by following a link from a different page or by searching for  the page using a search engine.

Class Assignment

Answer the question in a message to your instructor:

What role does the Internet play in your daily life?