Defining the Internet

Have you ever wondered what all those acronyms used on and about the Internet represent? Well, wonder no more. Below is a list of some of the basic and more commonly known acronyms that we use daily but may not know exactly what it stood for. There a lot more acronyms out there and we will cover them in later issues.

1. The Web vs. the Internet –

The Internet is a massive interconnection of computer networks. It is comprised of millions of computing devices that swap volumes of information back and forth. It’s not just computers, GPS units and cell phones also access the Internet as do car alarms, game consoles and even some home appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators.

The Internet started in the 1960’s as a military project, initially dubbed “packet networking” and later developed into “ARPANET.” During the 1970’s and 80’s while the “Internet” was still developing most business’ used the “Sneakernet,” a process where a file was saved to a floppy disk and then handed off to a “runner” who would deliver the file to the recipient. Since the runners wore sneakers “for running” the term sneakernet stuck. The Internet was NOT developed by Al Gore as he claimed some years ago.

The “Internet” houses layers of information, these layers are called “protocols”. The World Wide Web is the most popular of these layers. Other layers or “protocols” are; File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Telnet, Gopherspace, instant messaging and email. We will cover these additional protocols in later issues.

2. HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP is a technical acronym that means “HyperText Transfer Protocol”. This is the “language” of web pages. When your web page has one of these extensions, they should display your text, images and links in a web browser.

HTTPS is basically the same as above but the “S” indicates a secure connection. This means that the web page you are viewing has an added layer of protection/encryption to hide your passwords and other personal information. When you log on to a web site for your bank, email, or other data sensitive sights you should see the HTTPS preceding the web page name.

3. IP Address

Your computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) address will be either a 4 part or 8 part electronic serial number. An example of a 4 part would be Google’s IP address “74.125.224.72” (without the quotes) and an 8 part would be “21DA:D3:0:2F3B:2AA:FF:FE28:9C5A” which is a Microsoft Technet site. Any computer or other device that accesses the Internet is given at least one IP address. Regardless of what website you navigate to, or where you send that email to your computer and location are recorded with you IP address. It’s similar to your home address, when you mail a hard copy letter and put your return address on the envelope that would be like your IP address.

In the early days of the Internet, “www.whatever-website.com” did not exist. If you wanted to visit a web site you had to insert the actual IP address in the line. Like in the example above for Google the IP address would be “74.125.224.72” thus you had to input the number sequence to go to that web page. Just typing “Google” would not cut it. How did we keep it all straight? A “phone” book of course. Yes back in the day an Internet page phone book was published each year just as a home phone book was.

4. URL

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator’s. These are the web browsers of the Internet pages we visit. Instead of putting in the IP address, as mentioned above, we can now simply input the URL such as Google.com and be directed to the correct web page. URL’s work with the IP addresses to allow us to name, locate and bookmark specific web pages. URL’s use three parts to address a web page or file. The protocol, which is the “//:”, the filename/pagename itself and the host computer which ends in “.com, .net, .org” or something of this nature.

5. ISP

ISP is your Internet Service Provider. This is the company that provides you access to the Internet whether it be through a private company or a government entity. Your ISP will offer a variety of packages with different price ranges offering web access, email, hosting your own web page or blog and so on. The Internet connection speeds will also vary depending on the package you sign up for.

These days we also have WISP’s available. WISP is an acronym for Wireless Internet Service Provider. Most often these are available through you cell phone provider and offer much the same packages as a home based ISP.

Hot-Spots are wireless broadcasts of a business or personal home based ISP. These can be found at most restaurants, hotels, banks and other businesses.

6. P2P

P2P stands for “Peer to Peer”. It appears to be the most voluminous Internet activity or process in current times. P2P is the trading or sharing of files among millions of users. This is accomplished by installing specific software on your computer and voluntarily sharing specific photos, files, music, movies, ebooks and software programs with others.

This file sharing is fully legal for the most part, as long as what you share is your own work or you have release rights. Web sites such as Pirate Bay would be a good example of this file sharing in action. Some of the content on Pirate Bay is fully legal to transfer while other files on their site are “bootlegged”, meaning they are illegal copies.

7. E-commerce

E-commerce stands for “Electronic Commerce”. In short, it’s an on-line store as opposed to a “brick and mortar” store. If you have ever purchased anything on-line then you have used E-commerce. Everyday there are billions of dollars transferred on-line through these stores. Buying on-line has its advantages such as wider selection, cheaper prices and no sales tax. In turn it has its disadvantages such as not knowing exactly what your getting or the quality of the item until it arrives at your door.

8. Keywords vs Tags/Labels

Keywords can be one or more words to start your initial search. They help you find general or specific things on the Internet. In order to more define your search you can use quotes, hyphens or a colon.

Tags (sometimes called Labels) are “keywords” that you link to your website or blog to assist Internet surfers find your site. Item specific tags will get you a few hits from surfers while more vague tags will bring in a broader range of surfers.

9. Blogs or Blogging

A blog (aka web log) is an on-line version of a writers column. Both amateur and professional writers can publish blogs on any topic. A blog doesn’t have to be a written article, it can also be a collection of photos, art work or anything else you would like to post on-line. Anyone can start a blog and some people actually make a reasonable income by posting advertisement links on their blog page. You can create a blog for free at a number of locations such as WordPress.

10. Addons and Plugins

Addons are custom enhancements or modifications for existing/pre-installed software. A user will install addons to improve a particular program’s functions. An example would be adding a custom Ebay toolbar to your Internet browser or a new tool option in Excel. Most addons are free and can be downloaded from the Internet.

Plugins are typically for web browsers allowing special features to work or work better while surfing th e Internet. Examples include: Adobe Flash or Shockwave player, Microsoft Silver-light or Adobe Acrobat reader.

So here you have a quick breakdown of some of the more popular terms and their meanings regarding the Internet. Now you know a little history as well as the actual meaning of these acronyms.

If you have any short-cuts, tips or tricks that you would like to share for upcoming articles please feel free to contact Aubrey Love via email at pailwriter@outlook.com