Thursday, November 16, 2017

What is Internet?

There are billions (yes, with a “B”) of Internet users all across the world and think they know everything there is to know about it. But when you ask them to what Internet actually is, many – if not most – will shrug their shoulders and even pretend to be smart by asking you back, “You don’t know about it?!” The stupidest of them all will also emphasize by adding, “Seriously?!”

What is Internet
Internet is just like a tree, maybe
In simple words, Internet is a global network of computers from which users can share and acquire data from any connected computer within the network. A single network is connected to another, building a massive network or networks. The data can be in many forms such as documents, videos, audios, books, and photos, and everything else; when you talk to your ex-spouses via Internet, you also send and receive data. Of course, you need permission to acquire data from others’ computers but unfortunately sometimes people do not feel the need to ask permission yet they acquire the data anyway. To make things worse, they do it not because they have to, but just because they can and for the fun of it.

Who Invented the Internet?

Let us first address the elephant that should have never been in the room: Internet was not invented by Al Gore. The former vice president on the United States did say that he had taken the initiative in the creation of the Internet. As much as you like Al Gore, he was back then (and is still) a politician, so you should not take everything he said literally. By saying that, our politician referred to the legislation aspect instead of everything else involved including the technology and engineering parts. He also tried to gain support from programmers, engineers, and engineers who actually did the heavy lifting, and thinking as well.

The first known form of the Internet came from a Belgian named Paul Otlet who explained the technology to connect TV watchers with a gigantic encyclopedia through telephone signals. Mr. Otlet also suggested that one day people might use the same type of network to share files, send messages, and basically do things you do relentlessly on Facebook including trolling. Still, it was not the Internet as we know today.

In the early 1960s, J.C.R. Licklider - a computer scientist who was then appointed as director of the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – actually came up with the first workable idea of the Internet. In his mind, he would link all computers all around the world (except probably Russia because the Cold War was still intense) so everybody near a computer could share information. We do not know whether he really did mean “everybody” or just spies. The government agency took charge of the project and successfully invented the APRANET. You should not credit the invention of Internet to a single person, let alone Al Gore, because it was the brainchild of dozens of pioneering scientists and engineers.

APRANET was the first workable prototype of modern Internet. Backed by seemingly limitless funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, it could connect multiple computers to a single network and shared information. Standard protocol for data transmission or more popularly known as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol) was developed by Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf – both are scientists, not politicians. APRANET adopted TCP/IP and set the Internet on its course to worldwide usage. Before the APRANET, computers connected to the same network were identical.

World Wide Web

If you have been using the Internet for a while now without supervision of your employers, you would also probably think that the World Wide Web is synonymous with Internet. Guess what, they are different things. World Wide Web, or more commonly referred to simply as the Web, is a way of accessing the data. Between you and the data, there is the Internet; you use the Internet to gather the data by utilizing World Wide Web.

If you are confused, think of it as a clogged toilet problem. Data is the stool, toilet is the Internet, and auger is World Wide Web. To get rid of clogging issues, you use an auger through the toilet. You can either take the stool out or flush it back down again once you see it; now you understand.

Unlike the Internet, the invention of World Wide Web can be credited to a single person: Tim Berners-Lee. He is a scientist at CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research – who developed World Wide Web to meet the demands of information-sharing among universities all around the world. Because he invented World Wide Web, he also hosted the first website in the world on his computer. Being a plucky Brit, he dedicated the first website to tell people how to use his invention and utilize the Internet for greater purpose. Software, browser, and a library code were released in public domain. Thanks to him and CERN, nobody owns the Internet yet it belongs to everybody including you and your ex-spouses, especially in times when you need to book a hotel room online.