[Air-l] Internet vs. WWW

Neil Randall nrandall at watarts.uwaterloo.ca
Sat Mar 19 17:05:17 PST 2005


The Internet, technically speaking, is a network of networks (an
internetwork) all of which interoperate using the protocol known as TCP/IP
(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Each computer has an
individual Internet Protocol (IP) address, although one computer can act as
a host for numerous subsidiary IP addresses.

So in order to be on the Internet, a computer needs two things: (a)
connection via TCP/IP; (b) and IP address.

Within those two simple restrictions, numerous types of data transfer and
intercommunication have come to be associated with the Internet (and they
all operate under those two principles as well): among them are electronic
mail, newsgroups, instant messaging, file transfer (FTP), and the World Wide

The World Wide Web is a set of data transfer and display technologies
developed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in the late '80s and implemented in the
early '90s. The Web operated "on top of" (if you will) TCP/IP and uses the
protocol known as HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), which determines what
happens when a user clicks on a hyperlink. HTTP works in conjunction with
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), much enhanced by other markup and display
languages) to give us the nice displays we get in our Web browsers (which
are technically called HTTP clients).

So: The Internet is the big one, and the others, including the Web, operate
as part of it. Anything that uses IP networking is also part of it,
including such newer things as VoIP (Voice over IP), used for telephony.

Hope that helps.

Neil Randall

Joanne (or others),

as a newbie to the academic study of the Internet, with no tech
background, could you explain to me what difference between the two is?
Up till now, i've commonsensically used "the Internet" to denote,
essentially, everything that i can access or receive and anyone i
connect with when i "go online" (connect my computer to data that is not
on my computer's harddrive). In other words, i've used "the Internet" to
denote the sum of all that's online. I've always assumed
commonsensically that "the world wide web" simply denotes the network of
computers that are "online" (all or part of the time). Since what's
online has to rest (or am i missing some basic tech fact?) on some
computer, and since to access what's on a particular computer, that
computer needs to connected to other computers, "the World Wide Web" and
"the Internet" as i understood their meaning refer to the same referent.

also, up till now i also thought of "cyberworld" as an a term
interchangeable with the other two terms, but that leaves me with no
term to denote the "life-world" of people online, as distinguished from
"the Internet" as defined above. Could "cyberworld" be used to denote
this "life-world", or will that be another gross carelessness with
definitions (i can almost feel Thomas Hobbes standing behind me getting
ready to slap me ... )

Reuven Shlozberg
Political Science
University of Toronto

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