Most of us use the terms Internet and World Wide Web interchangeably, but just because the Internet and the World Wide Web are firmly intertwined with each other, it doesn’t mean they’re synonymous. Are you one of those people? It may be surprising for a lot of people to learn that the basic foundation of the two terms are very distinct. They were defined at a time when the Internet was first being formed, and despite the fact that people use them to refer to the same thing, they are actually very different pieces of the overall network we call the World Wide Web.
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary 2001 describes the Internet as “an international information network linking computers, accessible to the public via modem links.” The Dictionary of Sociology 1998 provides the following information – “A global network of computers (also known as the World-Wide Web) which allows instantaneous access to an expanding number of individual Web sites offering information about practically anything and everything—including the contents of daily newspapers, the price of goods in local shopping malls, library holdings, commodity prices, sports news and gossip, eroticism, and so-called chatrooms (by means of which people can communicate with each other on-line about their interests, hobbies, and opinions)”.
The Internet is the term used to identify the massive interconnection of computer networks around the world. It refers to the physical connection of the paths between two or more computers. The World Wide Web is the general name for accessing the Internet via HTTP, thus WWW.anything.com. It is just one of the connection protocols that are available in the internet and not the only one. Before 1957, computers only worked on one task at a time. This is called Batch Processing. Of course, this was quite ineffective. With computers getting bigger and bigger they had to be stored in special cooled rooms. But then the developers couldn’t work directly on the computers any more. Specialists had to be called in to connect them. Programming back then meant a lot of manual work and the indirect connection to the computers meant a lot of bugs, wasting time and fraying the developers’ nerves. In 1958,President Dwight D. Eisenhower started the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to increase U.S. technological advancements in the shadow of Sputnik’s launch. By October 29, 1969, the first ARPANET network connection between two computers was launched — and promptly crashed. But happily, the second time around was much more successful and the Internet was born. As personal computers became more mainstream in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Internet grew exponentially as more users plugged their computers into the massive network. Today, the Internet has grown into a public spider web of millions of personal, government, and commercial computers, all connected by cables and by wireless signals.
Distinct from the Internet, the World Wide Web, or simply Web, is a way of accessing information over the medium of the Internet. It is an information-sharing model that is built on top of the Internet. The Web uses the HTTP protocol, only one of the languages spoken over the Internet, to transmit data. Web services, which use HTTP to allow applications to communicate in order to exchange business logic, use the Web to share information. The Web also utilizes browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, to access Web documents called Web pages that are linked to each other via hyperlinks. Web documents also contain graphics, sounds, text and video.
The idea for the web came while Berners-Lee was working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). A scientist by trade, Berners-Lee and others inside CERN were looking for ways to transmit information between each other electronically. To do so, they created a set of tools including a language (html), a browser and other utilities which allowed to establish communication. In 1992, the University of Illinois introduced the first web browser, an online search tool that “surfs” all of the information on the Web, locates matches, and then ranks results. Over time the web started to have more practical uses. Businesses started to use it as a place where they could interact with potential customers and eventually conduct sales through the web. Consumers started to enjoy the convenience of shopping online as opposed to going to retail locations. With the added convenience and not having to have a physical storefront, e-commerce companies thrived because they could offer goods and services at lower prices. Recently, social media and networking has become popular. Sites continue to come on the scene where people can interact with each other either for personal or business purposes. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others have enjoyed tremendous popularity.
Simply, The Internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure. It connects millions of computers together globally, forming a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer as long as they are both connected to the Internet. You may have a computer network at your work, at your school or even one at your house. These networks are often connected to each other in different configurations, which is how you get groupings such as local area networks (LANs) and regional networks. Your cell phone is also on a network that is considered part of the Internet, as are many of your other electronic devices. And all these separate networks — added together — are what constitute the Internet. Even satellites are connected to the Internet. The World Wide Web, on the other hand is simply another application that runs on top of the internet. Servers house web sites which you can visit with the use of your browser using the HTTP protocol. You can then browse through the site via Hyperlinks that take you from one page to another and even to pages on another site. The Internet and the Web work together, but they are not the same thing. The Internet provides the underlying structure, and the Web utilizes that structure to offer content, documents, multimedia, etc.