Everyday we log on and get into this strange online world called the web. Now many of us believe that the Internet and web are the same, but though they are related, they are not quite the same thing. The Internet or the Net as we all call it now, is a worldwide system of interconnected computer networks. It transmits data using the Internet protocol. The net has many networks all tied together, carrying out many functions. These functions may be as different as email or pages of information, or even online chat. The Web is a read-write information space. It has resources like text documents, images and multimedia.

It is interesting to see how the web works. Anyone accessing the web will use a web browser like the Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox and the hypertext link to the page or resource is typed in.This address is given by the global, distributed Internet database known as the Domain Name System or DNS. To make this sound easier, in the above example, the address of the server is http://www.example.com and there, a request to view “mypage” is being made. HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol helps in accessing the server. The DNS then turns all this into an individualized IP or Internet Protocol address. This will look like a phone number with four numbers between 0 and 255. The IP is a procedure set up by the Internet to find a server anywhere in the world. In fact once the IP address is known, the server can be located through the ISP or Internet Service Provider.

Once the IP address is reached, the web site and all its content becomes available to the user. Almost immediately the html or hypertext markup language code is sent back and the text and graphics are available to the browser. This happens fairly quickly, taking just a few seconds, helping us make the most optimum use of the web.

If things do not go as planned, the viewer will get an error message stating ‘the page cannot be displayed’. This could mean that there is an error in the server name or the page being searched for does not exist. Sometimes the server could be busy or the page being searched has moved. It is best to follow the instructions given and continue.

All this sounds very simple, but today there is high degree of sophistication in the programming and solutions offered by a web page. The credit for designing the concept of the web goes to Tim Berners-Lee, when he built the “ENQUIRE”. On August 6, 1991, he posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, using the concept of HTML. This was the debut of the Web as a service on the Internet. He applied the idea of links to the Internet. This meant that the web became an accumulation of pages that could be accessed by clicking on links. Today we have benefited so much from this new communication system which makes the world so much smaller than before and has linked its many peoples as no other means could have ever done.

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