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- This article is about
Internet, the extensive, worldwide computer network
available to the public. An
internet is a more
general term informally used to describe any set of
computer networks that
are connected by
The Internet, or
simply the Net, is the
publicly available worldwide system of interconnected
computer networks that transmit data by
packet switching using a standardized
Internet Protocol (IP) and many other protocols. It is made
up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic, domestic and
government networks. It carries various information and
services, such as
online chat and the interlinked
web pages and other documents of the
World Wide Web. Because this is by far the largest, most
extensive internet (with a small
i) in the world, it is
simply called the
Internet (with a capital I).
Creation of the Internet
The story of the Internet begins in
1969 with the implementation of
ARPANET by academic researchers under the sponsorship of the
Department of Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Some early
research which contributed to the ARPANET included work on
queueing theory, and packet switching. However, ARPANET
itself did not interact easily with other computer networks that
did not share its own native protocol. This problem inspired
further research towards the development of a protocol that
could be "layered" over many different types of networks.
1983, the core networking protocol of ARPANET was changed
TCP/IP, marking the start of the Internet as we know it
Another important step in the Internet's development was the
National Science Foundation's (NSF) construction of a
university network backbone, the
1986. Important disparate networks that have successfully
been accommodated within the Internet include
The collective network gained a public face in the
1990s. In August
Tim Berners-Lee publicized his new World Wide Web project,
two years after he had begun creating
HTTP and the first few web pages at
Switzerland. A few academic and government institutions
contributed pages but the public did not begin to see them yet.
Mosaic web browser version 1.0 was released, and by late
1994 there was growing public interest in the previously
academic/technical internet. By 1996 the word "Internet" was
common public currency, but it referred almost entirely to the
World Wide Web.
Meanwhile, over the course of the decade, the Internet
successfully accommodated the majority of previously existing
computer networks (although some networks such as
FidoNet have remained separate). This growth is often
attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows
organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary
nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor
interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too
much control over the network.
Apart from the incredibly complex physical connections that make
up its infrastructure, the Internet is held together by bi- or
multi-lateral commercial contracts (for example
peering agreements) and by technical specifications or
protocols that describe how to exchange
data over the network.
Unlike older communications systems, the
Internet protocol suite was deliberately designed to be
agnostic with regard to the underlying physical medium. Any
communications network, wired or wireless, that can carry
two-way digital data can carry Internet traffic. Thus, Internet
packets flow through wired networks like copper wire, coaxial
cable, and fiber optic; and through wireless networks like
Wi-Fi. Together, all these networks, sharing the same
high-level protocols, form the Internet.
The Internet protocols originate from discussions within the
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
and its working groups, which are open to public participation
and review. These committees produce documents that are known as
Request for Comments documents (RFCs). Some RFCs are raised
to the status of
Internet Standard by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).
The Internet is also having a profound impact on
worldviews. In fact, Wikipedia is an Internet-based project.
In addition to the creation of
electronic commerce and communication with clients by
email and related means, the Internet is transforming other
aspects of the workplace. Certain companies have adopted the use
blogs, which are largely used as online diaries, for
promotional purposes. Since most people
search the Web looking for information, these
easily-updatable websites can be filled with advice on the
company's area of specialization. The company's hope is that,
when the visitor finds this free information, they will note the
appearance of expert knowledge and may be drawn to the business'
site as a result. An example of this practice is
Microsoft, which has allowed its
developers to publish their own personal blogs in order to
pique the public's interest in their work.
The World Wide Web
Internet research using
search engines, millions worldwide have easy, instant access to a
vast and diverse amount of online information. Compared to
encyclopedias and traditional
libraries, the Internet has enabled a sudden and extreme
decentralization of information and data.
World Wide Web.
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
This is encouraging new ways of home-working, collaboration
and information sharing in many industries. An
accountant sitting at home can
audit the books of a company based in another country, on a
server situated in a third country that is remotely
maintained by IT specialists in a fourth. These accounts could
have been created by home-working book-keepers, in other remote
locations, based on information e-mailed to them from offices
all over the world. Some of these things were possible before
the widespread use of the Internet, but the cost of private,
leased lines would have made many of them infeasible in
An office worker away from his or her desk, perhaps the other
side of the world on a business trip or a holiday, can open a
remote desktop session into his or her normal office PC
using a secure
Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection via the Internet.
This gives him or her complete access to all their normal files
and data, including e-mail and other applications, while they
This low-cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas,
knowledge and skills has revolutionized some, and given rise to
whole new, areas of human activity. One example of this is the
collaborative development and distribution of
FLOSS (Free, Libre and Open-Source Software) such as
A few other examples include
Wikipedia, a collaboratively edited and maintained free
Urban Dictionary project and
TEIS - the UK Telemedicine and E-health Information Service
for those working in the field of telemedicine, telecare and
computer file can be
e-mailed to customers, colleagues and friends as an
attachment. It can be uploaded to a
web site or
FTP server for easy download by others. It can be put into a
"shared location" or onto a
file server for instant use by colleagues. The load of bulk
downloads to many users can be eased by the use of "mirror"
In any of these cases, access to the file may be controlled
authentication; the transit of the file over the Internet
may be obscured by
encryption and money may change hands before or after access
to the file is given. The price can be paid by the remote
charging of funds from, for example a
credit card whose details are also passed - hopefully fully
encrypted - across the Internet. The origin and authenticity of
the file received may be checked by
digital signatures or by
MD5 message digests.
These simple features of the Internet, over a world-wide
basis, are changing the basis for the production, sale and
distribution of many types of product, wherever they can be
reduced to a computer file for transmission. This includes all
manner of office documents, publications, software products,
music, photography, video, animations, graphics and the other
arts. This in turn is causing seismic shifts in each of the
existing industries that previously controlled the production
and distribution of these products. See
RIAA - the Recording Industry Association of America has
been particularly vocal about the problems this is causing them.
Streaming media and VoIP
Many existing radio and television broadcasters have provided
Internet 'feeds' of their live audio and video streams (for
BBC). They have been joined by a range of pure Internet
'broadcasters' who never had on-air licences. This means that an
Internet-connected device, such as a computer or something
more specific, can be used to access on-line media in much the
same way as was previously possible only with a TV or radio
receiver. The range of material is much wider, from pornography
to highly specialised technical web-casts. The simplest equipment can allow
anybody, with little censorship or licencing control, to
broadcast on a worldwide basis. Time-shift viewing or listening is
not a problem as the BBC have shown with their Preview, Classic
Clips and Listen Again
Web-cams can be seen as an even lower-budget extension of
this phenomenon. In this case the picture may update only slowly
- perhaps once every few seconds or slower, but Internet users
can watch animals around an African waterhole, ships in the
Panama Canal or the traffic at a local roundabout live and in
real time. Some sex-workers commercially allow web-cam access
into their bedrooms-cum-studios, with or without two-way sound,
to those who want to pay on line.
VoIP stands for Voice over IP, where
IP refers to the Internet Protocol that underlies all
Internet communication. This phenomenon began as an optional
two-way voice extension to some of the
Instant Messaging systems that took off around the turn of
the millennium. In recent years many people and organisations
have been working hard to make VoIP systems as easy to use and
as convenient as a normal telephone. The benefit is that, as the
actual voice traffic is carried by the Internet, VoIP costs much
less than an actual telephone call, especially over long
distances and especially for those with always-on ADSL or DSL
Internet connections anyway. The disadvantages are that it is
still difficult to initiate a call with someone, unless they are
at their keyboard and expecting to hear from you (or have a
special VoIP compatible phone), and that there are still a
number of competing standards that are mitigating against
In all of these cases, existing large organisations, that
have grown accustomed to regular incomes for their services, are
finding increased competition in their service areas, coming
directly from the Internet. While newcomers strive to make these
inroads, the traditional industries are having to adapt, adopt,
complain or suffer. Meanwhile the consumer in each case most
probably benefits from the increased range of services and
possible price reductions. Some worry about the lack of
censorship and control while others see a continuing
globalisation of culture and norms.
The most used language for communication on the Internet is
English, due to the Internet's origins, to the growing role
of English as an international language and to the poor
capability of early computers to handle characters other than
those in the basic western
After English (56 % of websites) the most-used languages in
world wide web are
German 8 %,
French 6 %,
Japanese 5 % and
Spanish 3 %. These numbers are probably already inaccurate
as there has been a recent surge in
The Internet's technologies have developed enough in recent
years so that sufficient native-language facilities for a usable
experience are available for the most widely used languages.
However, some glitches such as
mojibake still remain.
From a cultural awareness perspective, the Internet has both an
advantage and a liability. For people who are interested in
other cultures and the worldviews of those cultures it provides
a significant amount of information and an interactivity that
would be unavailable otherwise. However, for people who are not
interested in other cultures and worldviews there is some
evidence indicating that the Internet enables them to avoid
contact to a greater degree than ever before.
See main article
Censorship in cyberspace
Some countries such as
Iran and the
People's Republic of China restrict what people in their
countries can see on the internet. This has made
blogging very popular in Iran in order to avoid the
BBC is proposing to offer its entire range of terrestrial
television broadcasting as free
downloads, but only to people within the
UK. At the moment most internet content is available
regardless of where one is in the world, so long as one has the
means of connecting to it.
Common methods of home access include
dial-up, which is the slowest, landline
broadband (over coaxial cable, fiber optic or copper wires)
Public places to use the Internet include
Internet cafes, where computers with Internet connections
are available. There are also Internet access points in public
places like airport halls, sometimes just for brief use while
standing. Various terms are used, such as "public Internet
kiosk", "public access terminal", and "Web
Wi-Fi provides wireless access to computer networks, and
therefore can do so to the Internet itself.
Hotspots providing such access include
Wifi-cafes, where a would-be user needs to bring their own
wireless-enabled devices such as a
PDA. These services may be free to all, free to customers
only, or fee-based. A hotspot need not be limited to a confined
location. Whole campuses and parks have been enabled, even an
entire downtown area.
Grassroots efforts have led to
wireless community networks. A full city listing and
directory can be found at the
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Submission - Website for web
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on all state hunting regs.
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hunting web for state regulations.
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Yellow page style listing service for websites