Ethan Feerst and Dylan Stewart (Technology Therapist, Mac Guru) gives expert video advice on: How does the Internet work?; What are some of the most common difficulties with using the Internet?; Who decides what goes on the Internet? and more...
What is the "Internet"?
Nobody knows what the internet is. Certainly nobody knows what the internet is anymore, because it's constantly, constantly changing. It is technically, officially an interconnected series of worldwide computers that allow for an exchange of all kinds of information, an emails, and protocols, video and graphics, but one of the key fundamentals in the history of the internet is that it was designed during the cold war, it was partly a response to Sputnik, and all of a sudden the department of defense and the United States government freaked out and the Advanced Research Projects Agency was founded, quickly made a part of the Department of Defense, and one of the initial origins for this network had to do with how would we decentralize communications in the event of a nuclear attack. How could the communications infrastructure reside and be contained in multiple locations, so that no one centralized place could be knocked out, and that was one of the fundamental concept behind the origins of what then became the internet, but this evolved through several academic and technological and government projects, and gradually grew into the internet we now have today, along the way, different things got standardized, packet switching and different kinds of communication protocols, until eventually what we have now is servers and computers, and hosts that exist all over the world, there is no, there is no one place where we can grab the internet, it's now become this technological expression of mass conscientious and information.
What can I do on the Internet?
What do you want to do on the internet? Asking what you can do on the internet is like asking “what can I spell with the alphabet?” You can surf for websites, look up movie show times, find out the weather anywhere in the world, see pictures of your house from outer space. You can also rent movies, read reviews on movies, find out who is in a particular movie and you can listen to music, buy music, explore new artists. You can meet friends, you can meet enemies, you can have conversations, you can have monologues, you can send photographs and movies. You can even share your life or you could find ways to hide your life.
How does the Internet work?
It works because during the early days of the development of the Internet these mad genius scientists from M.I.T. and Stanford and Berkeley, and really all over the world, standardized different ways that packets of information could be sent and transmitted across the internet and then interpreted on the other side. By doing this they allowed for the individual computers, which might speak entirely different languages, nowadays you have computers on a Windows platform, a Linux platform, a Unix platform, a Mac platform, any kind of platform, but because the communication has all been standardized and simplified, they can all trade information based on these standard protocols.
What are some of the most common difficulties with using the Internet?
The common difficulties with using the Internet are to me, the same kind of difficulties with using the computer; its terminology. People don't understand what things are, where things are, or the symbols that they see don't make sense to them. There is a global universal terminology to computers, to the Internet, and to technology. As people begin to understand that this symbol means eject, or that downloading means taking something from the Internet, or that ripping is pulling something from a CD. As those terms become more popular and more coherent to people, the difficulties solve themselves.
What can I find on the Internet?
It's interesting to see what's happening as sort of the culture of the Internet continues to evolve and become such a commonplace thing, because what's happening is we're really reinventing the town square, and we're making it possible for people to have individuals of different expertise or services of different expertise that are just immediately available to them, and so it's creating a whole different sense of community. So really, at this point , there's almost nothing that you can imagine that you can't find on the Internet, which is fabulous and sometimes really terrifying.
What is the "world wide web"?
One of the scientists who had conceived of the Internet in the '60s actually called it, in a paper that he wrote, "the galactic Internet." And then the term "world wide web" really, I think, got invented in the early 1970s. But initially, we were starting with a handful of computers that were connected in San Francisco and Switzerland and Great Britain, and eventually, this interconnected web has continued to grow. Now the web has so many threads to it, it's just unimaginable. But again, we're talking about a completely decentralized network, so all nodes are connected to all other nodes.
When was the Internet invented?
The internet was not invented in one instance, more the internet was a slow evolution. The internet evolved from Sputnik and the United States governments own response with the Advanced Research Projects Agency which then became a part of the department of defense. The internet evolved from scientists at Berkley, Stanford and other parts of the world wanted to be able to do research projects and exchange information easily. And then, gradually, the applications continued to evolve and slowly over time become standardized. We're really talking about a twenty or thirty year evolution from the initial conceptions of computers at different academic and government institutions, that were networked together into the infrastructure that then became the world wide web, with all it's commercial applications that we have today.
Who decides what goes on the Internet?
You do. Everybody does. The Internet is an opportunity for every person in the world that has a computer connection to speak their voice and say what they want to say. Whether it's through a blog site, whether it's through your own website, or whether it's through a site like Wikipedia which is an encyclopedia of information that anybody can tap into and change. If you don't like what some particular definition is on Wikipedia, you can go up and you can change it. So you decide what goes on the Internet.
Who invented the Internet?
There is no who. This was a collection of many scientists and academic institutions over a period of years. Partly the Internet is something that grew out of the Cold War and the fear that if communications was centralized, that command and control could be knocked out in one fell swoop. So the United States government created the Advanced Research Projects Agency directly after Sputnik. That turned into the ARPA Net; became part of the Department of Defense. Institutions like Stanford, Berkeley, MIT began to experiment with different ways of switching packets and sharing information for different kinds of academic research projects, and then protocols got standardized over a period of years and the World Wide Web came into existence, but I don't think there was any one Who.