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5.3: Internet and the Web

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    The Internet and the World Wide Web

    Over the next decade, the ARPANET grew and gained popularity. During this time, other networks also came into existence. Different organizations were connected to different networks. This led to a problem. The networks could not communicate with each other. Each network used its own proprietary language, or protocol (see sidebar for the definition of protocol) to send information back and forth. This problem was solved by the invention of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). TCP/IP was designed to allow networks running on different protocols to have an intermediary protocol that would allow them to communicate. So as long as your network supported TCP/IP, you could communicate with all of the other networks running TCP/IP. TCP/IP quickly became the standard protocol and allowed networks to communicate with each other. It is from this breakthrough that we first got the term Internet, which simply means “an interconnected network of networks.”

    Internet Users Worldwide, December 2017. (Public Domain. Courtesy of the Miniwatts Marketing Group)

    The 1980s witnessed a significant growth in Internet usage. Internet access came primarily from government, academic, and research organizations. Much to the surprise of the engineers, the early popularity of the Internet was driven by the use of electronic mail (see the next sidebar ).

    Initially, Internet use meant having to type commands, even including IP addresses, in order to access a web server. That all changed in 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee introduced his World Wide Web project which provided an easy way to navigate the Internet through the use of hypertext. The World Wide Web gained even more steam in 1993 with the release of the Mosaic browser which allowed graphics and text to be combined as a way to present information and navigate the Internet.

    The Dot-Com Bubble

    In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Internet was being managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF had restricted commercial ventures on the Internet, which meant that no one could buy or sell anything online. In 1991, the NSF transferred its role to three other organizations, thus getting the US government out of direct control over the Internet and essentially opening up commerce online.

    This new commercialization of the Internet led to what is now known as the dot-com bubble. A frenzy of investment in new dot-com companies took place in the late 1990s with new tech companies issuing Initial Public Offerings (IPO) and heating up the stock market. This investment bubble was driven by the fact that investors knew that online commerce would change everything. Unfortunately, many of these new companies had poor business models and anemic financial statements showing little or no profit. In 2000 and 2001, the bubble burst and many of these new companies went out of business. Some companies survived, including Amazon (started in 1994) and eBay (1995). After the dot-com bubble burst, a new reality became clear. In order to succeed online, e-business companies would need to develop business models appropriate for the online environment.

    Web 2.0

    In the first few years of the World Wide Web, creating and hosting a website required a specific set of knowledge. A person had to know how to set up a web server, get a domain name, create web pages in HTML, and troubleshoot various technical issues.

    Starting in the early 2000s, major changes came about in how the Internet was being used. These changes have come to be known as Web 2.0. Here are some key characteristics in Web 2.0.

    • Universal access to Apps
    • Value is found in content, not display software
    • Data can be easily shared
    • Distribution is bottom up, not top down
    • Employees and customers can use access and use tools on their own
    • Informal networking is encouraged since more contributors results in better content
    • Social tools encourage people to share information

    Social networking, the last item in the list, has led to major changes in society. Prior to Web 2.0 major news outlets investigated and reported important news stories of the day. But in today’s world individuals are able to easily share their own views on various events. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and personal blogs allow people to express their own viewpoint.

    Sidebar: E-mail Is the “Killer” App for the Internet

    As discussed in chapter 3, a “killer app” is a use of a device that becomes so essential that large numbers of people will buy the device just to run that application. The killer app for the personal computer was the spreadsheet, enabling users to enter data, write formulas, and easily make “what if” decisions. With the introduction of the Internet came another killer app – E-mail.

    The Internet was originally designed as a way for the Department of Defense to manage projects. However, the invention of electronic mail drove demand for the Internet. While this wasn’t what developers had in mind, it turned out that people connecting with people was the killer app for the Internet. As we look back today, we can see this being repeated again and again with new technologies that enable people to connect with each other.

    Sidebar: The Internet and the World Wide Web Are Not the Same Thing

    Many times the terms “Internet” and “World Wide Web,” or even just “the web,” are used interchangeably. But really, they are not the same thing.

    The Internet is an interconnected network of networks. Services such as email, voice and video, file transfer, and the World Wide Web all run across the Internet.The World Wide Web is simply one part of the Internet. It is made up of web servers that have HTML pages that are being viewed on devices with web browsers.

    This page titled 5.3: Internet and the Web is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David T. Bourgeois (Saylor Foundation) .

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