What is the internet? – Week 2 Reflection

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Internet
Tags: , ,

Week two

What is the internet provided the original origins, the key markers, history about the internet and that the web and internet are different things.  I didn’t realise this before, it was a confusing prior to this having been self-taught.  The lecturer Dr Tarna Leaver provided a potted history of motivations), what people do with the internet and from computers to the imagination (cyberspace).  The internet comprises TCP/IP, WWW and cyberspace and they are all different things.  There are relationships between these elements but not exactly the same as each other.

A potted history starting in 1957 with the USA and USSR competing with one another to conquer space, technology and nuclear arsenal.  It was seen as a political race with the first technological object the Sputnik being sent into space and then recovered.  This prompted a response from the US government created NASA and ARPA (advance research projects agency) now DARPA (http://www.darpa.mil).

People with amazing insight during 1960s included JCR Licklider and Robert W Taylor “Man computer symbiosis” discussed the interaction between man and computer which were radical thinkers of this time and bringing together something more into it through computers and mans connection.  Now referred to as social networking.

In 1962, Licklider and ARPA discussed the intergalactic computer network and ICN becomes ARPANet project to connection supercomputers across the country mainly in universities.  They aim to move information and share computing resources more effectively.

Packet switching made the internet possible with Donald Davies, Leonard Kleirock and Paul Baran (RAND corp) where sending large files was limited, so designed packet switching to break up information into packets or small pieces and sending them one at a time across a network, and then putting them back together when they reach the intended destination.

Without packet switching, the Internet would not exist as we now know  it. Going back to the postcard analogy, postcards can get lost. They can be delivered out    of order, and they can be delayed by varying amounts. The same is true of Internet    packets, which, on the Internet, can even be duplicated. The Internet Protocol is the    postcard layer of the Internet. The next higher layer of protocol, TCP, takes care of    re-sending the “postcards” to recover packets that might have been lost, and    putting packets back in order if they have become disordered in transit.  Cerf, R. E. K. a. V. G. (1999). What is the Internet (And What Makes It Work), CNRI.

In 1964, Paul Baran’s paper “Introduction  to distributed communications network” suggested a network could be created to survive a nuclear war which was part of the initial discussion.

In 1969 Arpanet creates nodes, networks two computers (Sept) and then four computers (Dec).

In 1970 Arpanet had grown but couldnt connect to other networks in other spaces so tried to talk to each other about that substantial task.

A way for networks to communicate with each other was via TCP/IP by Vint Cerf (Cheif Intenet Evangelist) which allowed reliablity of information being managed, not just functioning on the existing networks which included packet verification.

The Internet Protocol IPv4 and IPv6 a set of numbers used for internet addresses from 32 bit to 128 bit.   In the 1980s Cerf’s internet working protocols were the backbone of the internet and Arpanet had reconfigured TCP/IP replacing NCP.

In 1984, a domain name system (DNS) linked IP address to human readable address, top levels .coms and .edu, country .au or .nz, and text proceeding.  Links between people and phone numbers.


  • The internet is a global interconnected network of computers.
  • It runs using both packet switching and the TCP/IP protocols.
  • Uses DNS to make numeric addresses human readable.
  • Evolved from a number of projects but most notably from ARPANet.
  • Is the fundamental infrastructure upon which the world-wide web and many other protocols run.

What did people do with the internet?

In 1973, at ARPANet 75% of traffic was email.  Email is the fundamental about communication and collaboration at the time.  It changed the nature and expectation of networked computing and faster and different means of communicating.

BBNA and BBNB computers were the first to send and receive email in 1971.

So email made the internet social.  Then group emails were sent, cc etc building social networks online.  Send fast and over great distances and cheaper than hardcopy mail.

Social protocols and tools that took of before the web include Newsgroups eg USENET emerged int he 1980s such as comp.*, rec.*, alt.*, sci.* etc which can still be found on Google.


is an interesting concept where people try to imagine what ist is or what it is like eg Tron movie in the 1980s about a world inside the computer where no man has ever been before now, and a representation of meaningful life inside a computer.

Defining cyberspace – William Gibson wrote Neuromancer in 1984

“Cyberspace is a consensual hallucination experienced by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts.  A graphic representation of data abstract from banks of every computer in the human system complexity.  Lines of light arranged in non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data like city lights receding.”

Imagining of cyberspace sparked a considerable reaction by people and predates to www, mainly universities and big organisations using it at the time!


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