What is the Internet?

Welcome to Earth, home to the internet. The internet is everywhere you look in the modern world. It is accessible in residences, offices, cars, and national parks. In fifty short years, the internet has radically changed the way humans interact, share and acquire information. But what is the internet? Where is the internet and where did it come from? I was under the impression that this series of simple questions would be straightforward, however; I found out I was terribly wrong.

There is no definitive response to ‘what is the internet’.

When you put ‘what is the internet’ in a search engine, you will receive untold explanations. Explaining what the internet is is very difficult because the internet is whatever you make it and it evolves by the second. On its surface, it is the world wide web, it is social media, news, shopping, weather and knowledge. Under its facade, it is a black market where anything you can imagine can be made, bought or sold unregulated by governments. However, at its core, the internet is a global network of computers linking humankind sharing and transmitting data through a series of interlocking and complex codes.

Does the internet have a history?

Unfortunately, there is also no official or concise history for the internet, and any information culminated would be incomplete due to the simple vastness of the contributors. The internet evolved, if you will, from a multitude of different technological advances; there is no single inventor or founder.

The internet, was born in the 1960’s while the rest of the world was tuning in and dropping out. By the late 1960’s the internet was a series of networked computers sharing information used mostly by scholars, scientists and government officials. In the early 1970’s, email introduced the public to an application that allowed users to exchange the transmission of electronic mail. The Email breakthrough permitted digital written word to be exchanged quickly and efficiently; bringing more users to the internet. In the mid 1990’s, the world wide web introduced a medium friendly to the general public and the internet we all use daily came to be. By the 2000’s there was web culture, and by 2010’s the internet is a world of its own. One thing has become abundantly clear, resistance is futile- the future is digital.

The internet, as an entity, is not in a single physical location.

Spread out amongst many servers in multiple locations, across country lines and oceans; storing data and information; then relaying it to individual users, is the internet. It is more than a half of a million miles of wiring under the ocean. Furthermore, it is any of the estimated 1 billion computers publicly connected to a router. It is any public router connected to the internet. It is not stored in one place and thus cannot be destroyed singularly. The internet connects us – allowing us to communicate quickly across vast distances and places access to information at our fingertips. The world wide web has created and destroyed more than a few fortunes, solicited more than a few crimes, caused new world wide regulatory and legal precedences; and is home to a global marketplace unlike any other.

Internet is so tangible that you’re on it right now!

It is in our phones, our homes, cars, offices and forests. Coming to a deeper understanding of what the internet is and how it came to be is integral in understanding the implications of its technological advances and the reach it has into our everyday lives. There is so much more at play than just simply turning on a device and accessing the world wide web.


Guest Blogger, Emma Beazley