Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks
that use the
Internet protocol suite
Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices
worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private,
public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global
scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical
networking technologies. The
Internet carries a vast range of
information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext
documents and applications of the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web (WWW), electronic
mail, telephony, and file sharing.
The origins of the
Internet date back to research commissioned by the
federal government of the United States in the 1960s to build robust,
fault-tolerant communication with computer networks. The primary
precursor network, the ARPANET, initially served as a backbone for
interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the
1980s. The funding of the
National Science Foundation Network
National Science Foundation Network as a new
backbone in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial
extensions, led to worldwide participation in the development of new
networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. The
linking of commercial networks and enterprises by the early 1990s
marks the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet, and
generated a sustained exponential growth as generations of
institutional, personal, and mobile computers were connected to the
network. Although the
Internet was widely used by academia since the
1980s, the commercialization incorporated its services and
technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life.
Most traditional communications media, including telephony, radio,
television, paper mail and newspapers are reshaped, redefined, or even
bypassed by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as email,
Internet television, online music, digital
newspapers, and video streaming websites. Newspaper, book, and other
print publishing are adapting to website technology, or are reshaped
into blogging, web feeds and online news aggregators. The
enabled and accelerated new forms of personal interactions through
Internet forums, and social networking. Online
shopping has grown exponentially both for major retailers and small
businesses and entrepreneurs, as it enables firms to extend their
"brick and mortar" presence to serve a larger market or even sell
goods and services entirely online.
Business-to-business and financial
services on the
Internet affect supply chains across entire
Internet has no centralized governance in either technological
implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent
network sets its own policies. Only the overreaching definitions of
the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the
address (IP address) space and the
Domain Name System
Domain Name System (DNS), are
directed by a maintainer organization, the
Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical underpinning and
standardization of the core protocols is an activity of the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely
affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with
by contributing technical expertise.
Routing and service tiers
6.1 World Wide Web
6.3 Data transfer
7 Social impact
Social networking and entertainment
7.4 Electronic business
7.6 Collaborative publishing
7.7 Politics and political revolutions
9.2 Energy use
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
Internet Messenger by Buky Schwartz, located in Holon, Israel
See also: Capitalization of "Internet"
When the term
Internet is used to refer to the specific global system
Internet Protocol (IP) networks, the word is a
proper noun that should be written with an initial capital letter.
In common use and the media, it is often erroneously not capitalized,
viz. the internet. Some guides specify that the word should be
capitalized when used as a noun, but not capitalized when used as an
Internet is also often referred to as the Net, as a
short form of network. Historically, as early as 1849, the word
internetted was used uncapitalized as an adjective, meaning
interconnected or interwoven. The designers of early computer
networks used internet both as a noun and as a verb in shorthand form
of internetwork or internetworking, meaning interconnecting computer
World Wide Web
World Wide Web are often used interchangeably
in everyday speech; it is common to speak of "going on the Internet"
when using a web browser to view web pages. However, the World Wide
Web or the Web is only one of a large number of
Internet services. The
Web is a collection of interconnected documents (web pages) and other
web resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. As another point of
Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is the language used
on the Web for information transfer, yet it is just one of many
languages or protocols that can be used for communication on the
Internet. The term Interweb is a portmanteau of
Internet and World
Wide Web typically used sarcastically to parody a technically unsavvy
History of the Internet
History of the Internet and History of the World Wide
Research into packet switching, one of the fundamental Internet
technologies started in the early 1960s in the work of Paul Baran,
and packet switched networks such as the
NPL network by Donald
Davies, ARPANET, Tymnet, the Merit Network, Telenet, and
CYCLADES, were developed in the late 1960s and 1970s using a
variety of protocols. The
ARPANET project led to the development
of protocols for internetworking, by which multiple separate networks
could be joined into a network of networks.
began with two network nodes which were interconnected between the
Network Measurement Center at the University of California, Los
Angeles (UCLA) Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science
directed by Leonard Kleinrock, and the NLS system at SRI International
Douglas Engelbart in Menlo Park, California, on 29 October
1969. The third site was the Culler-Fried Interactive Mathematics
Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, followed by the
University of Utah
University of Utah Graphics Department. In an early sign of future
growth, fifteen sites were connected to the young
ARPANET by the end
of 1971. These early years were documented in the 1972 film
Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing.
Early international collaborations on the
ARPANET were rare. European
developers were concerned with developing the
Notable exceptions were the Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) in June
1973, followed in 1973 by Sweden with satellite links to the Tanum
Earth Station and Peter T. Kirstein's research group in the United
Kingdom, initially at the Institute of Computer Science, University of
London and later at University College London. In December
1974, RFC 675 (Specification of
Internet Transmission Control
Program), by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal, and Carl Sunshine, used the
term internet as a shorthand for internetworking and later RFCs
repeated this use. Access to the
ARPANET was expanded in 1981 when
National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the Computer Science
Network (CSNET). In 1982, the
Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was
standardized, which permitted worldwide proliferation of
T3 NSFNET Backbone, c. 1992.
TCP/IP network access expanded again in 1986 when the National Science
Foundation Network (NSFNet) provided access to supercomputer sites in
the United States for researchers, first at speeds of 56 kbit/s and
later at 1.5 Mbit/s and 45 Mbit/s. Commercial
providers (ISPs) emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The
ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. By 1995, the
Internet was fully
commercialized in the U.S. when the NSFNet was decommissioned,
removing the last restrictions on use of the
Internet to carry
commercial traffic. The
Internet rapidly expanded in
Australia in the mid to late 1980s and to
Asia in the late
1980s and early 1990s. The beginning of dedicated transatlantic
communication between the NSFNET and networks in
established with a low-speed satellite relay between Princeton
Stockholm, Sweden in December 1988. Although other
network protocols such as
UUCP had global reach well before this time,
this marked the beginning of the
Internet as an intercontinental
Public commercial use of the
Internet began in mid-1989 with the
connection of MCI Mail and Compuserve's email capabilities to the
500,000 users of the Internet. Just months later on 1 January
1990, PSInet launched an alternate
Internet backbone for commercial
use; one of the networks that would grow into the commercial Internet
we know today. In March 1990, the first high-speed T1 (1.5 Mbit/s)
link between the NSFNET and
Europe was installed between Cornell
University and CERN, allowing much more robust communications than
were capable with satellites. Six months later Tim Berners-Lee
would begin writing WorldWideWeb, the first web browser after two
years of lobbying
CERN management. By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had
built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the HyperText
Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 0.9, the HyperText Markup Language
(HTML), the first
Web browser (which was also a
HTML editor and could
Usenet newsgroups and
FTP files), the first HTTP server
software (later known as
CERN httpd), the first web server, and
the first Web pages that described the project itself. In 1991 the
Commercial Internet eXchange was founded, allowing PSInet to
communicate with the other commercial networks CERFnet and Alternet.
Since 1995 the
Internet has tremendously impacted culture and
commerce, including the rise of near instant communication by email,
instant messaging, telephony (Voice over
Internet Protocol or VoIP),
two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its
discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping
sites. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher
speeds over fiber optic networks operating at 1-Gbit/s, 10-Gbit/s, or
Users in the developing world
Users in the developed world
Source: International Telecommunications Union.
Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of
online information and knowledge, commerce, entertainment and social
networking. During the late 1990s, it was estimated that traffic
on the public
Internet grew by 100 percent per year, while the mean
annual growth in the number of
Internet users was thought to be
between 20% and 50%. This growth is often attributed to the lack
of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network,
as well as the non-proprietary nature of the
Internet protocols, which
encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from
exerting too much control over the network. As of 31 March 2011,
the estimated total number of
Internet users was 2.095 billion
(30.2% of world population). It is estimated that in 1993 the
Internet carried only 1% of the information flowing through two-way
telecommunication, by 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007
more than 97% of all telecommunicated information was carried over the
ICANN headquarters in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles,
California, United States.
Internet is a global network that comprises many voluntarily
interconnected autonomous networks. It operates without a central
governing body. The technical underpinning and standardization of the
core protocols (
IPv4 and IPv6) is an activity of the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely
affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with
by contributing technical expertise. To maintain interoperability, the
principal name spaces of the
Internet are administered by the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
ICANN is governed
by an international board of directors drawn from across the Internet
technical, business, academic, and other non-commercial communities.
ICANN coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers for use on the
Internet, including domain names,
Internet Protocol (IP) addresses,
application port numbers in the transport protocols, and many other
parameters. Globally unified name spaces are essential for maintaining
the global reach of the Internet. This role of
ICANN distinguishes it
as perhaps the only central coordinating body for the global
Internet Registries (RIRs) allocate IP addresses:
African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) for Africa
American Registry for Internet Numbers
American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) for North America
Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre
Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) for
Asia and the
Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry
Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) for
Latin America and the
Réseaux IP Européens – Network Coordination Centre (
RIPE NCC) for
Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an
agency of the United States Department of Commerce, had final approval
over changes to the
DNS root zone until the IANA stewardship
transition on 1 October 2016. The
(ISOC) was founded in 1992 with a mission to "assure the open
development, evolution and use of the
Internet for the benefit of all
people throughout the world". Its members include individuals
(anyone may join) as well as corporations, organizations, governments,
and universities. Among other activities ISOC provides an
administrative home for a number of less formally organized groups
that are involved in developing and managing the Internet, including:
Internet Engineering Task Force
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF),
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), Internet
Research Task Force (IRTF), and
Internet Research Steering Group
(IRSG). On 16 November 2005, the United Nations-sponsored World Summit
on the Information Society in
Tunis established the Internet
Governance Forum (IGF) to discuss Internet-related issues.
List of countries by number of Internet users
List of countries by number of Internet users and List of
Internet connection speeds
2007 map showing submarine fiberoptic telecommunication cables around
The communications infrastructure of the
Internet consists of its
hardware components and a system of software layers that control
various aspects of the architecture.
Routing and service tiers
Packet routing across the
Internet involves several tiers of Internet
Internet service providers
Internet service providers establish the worldwide connectivity
between individual networks at various levels of scope. End-users who
only access the
Internet when needed to perform a function or obtain
information, represent the bottom of the routing hierarchy. At the top
of the routing hierarchy are the tier 1 networks, large
telecommunication companies that exchange traffic directly with each
other via peering agreements. Tier 2 and lower level networks buy
Internet transit from other providers to reach at least some parties
on the global Internet, though they may also engage in peering. An ISP
may use a single upstream provider for connectivity, or implement
multihoming to achieve redundancy and load balancing. Internet
exchange points are major traffic exchanges with physical connections
to multiple ISPs. Large organizations, such as academic institutions,
large enterprises, and governments, may perform the same function as
ISPs, engaging in peering and purchasing transit on behalf of their
internal networks. Research networks tend to interconnect with large
subnetworks such as GEANT, GLORIAD, Internet2, and the UK's national
research and education network, JANET. Both the
Internet IP routing
structure and hypertext links of the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web are examples of
scale-free networks. Computers and routers use routing tables in
their operating system to direct IP packets to the next-hop router or
Routing tables are maintained by manual configuration or
automatically by routing protocols. End-nodes typically use a default
route that points toward an ISP providing transit, while ISP routers
Border Gateway Protocol
Border Gateway Protocol to establish the most efficient
routing across the complex connections of the global Internet.
An estimated 70 percent of the world's
Internet traffic passes through
Common methods of
Internet access by users include dial-up with a
computer modem via telephone circuits, broadband over coaxial cable,
fiber optics or copper wires, Wi-Fi, satellite, and cellular telephone
technology (e.g. 3G, 4G). The
Internet may often be accessed from
computers in libraries and
Internet access points
exist in many public places such as airport halls and coffee shops.
Various terms are used, such as public
Internet kiosk, public access
terminal, and Web payphone. Many hotels also have public terminals
that are usually fee-based. These terminals are widely accessed for
various usages, such as ticket booking, bank deposit, or online
Wi-Fi provides wireless access to the
Internet via local
computer networks. Hotspots providing such access include
where users need to bring their own wireless devices such as a laptop
or PDA. These services may be free to all, free to customers only, or
Grassroots efforts have led to wireless community networks. Commercial
Wi-Fi services covering large city areas are in many cities, such as
New York, London, Vienna, Toronto, San Francisco, Philadelphia,
Chicago and Pittsburgh. The
Internet can then be accessed from places,
such as a park bench. Apart from Wi-Fi, there have been
experiments with proprietary mobile wireless networks like Ricochet,
various high-speed data services over cellular phone networks, and
fixed wireless services. High-end mobile phones such as smartphones in
general come with
Internet access through the phone network. Web
browsers such as Opera are available on these advanced handsets, which
can also run a wide variety of other
Internet software. More mobile
Internet access than PCs, although this is not as widely
Internet access provider and protocol matrix
differentiates the methods used to get online.
Internet protocol suite
While the hardware components in the
Internet infrastructure can often
be used to support other software systems, it is the design and the
standardization process of the software that characterizes the
Internet and provides the foundation for its scalability and success.
The responsibility for the architectural design of the Internet
software systems has been assumed by the
Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF). The IETF conducts standard-setting work groups, open
to any individual, about the various aspects of
Resulting contributions and standards are published as Request for
Comments (RFC) documents on the IETF web site. The principal methods
of networking that enable the
Internet are contained in specially
designated RFCs that constitute the
Internet Standards. Other less
rigorous documents are simply informative, experimental, or
historical, or document the best current practices (BCP) when
Internet standards describe a framework known as the Internet
protocol suite. This is a model architecture that divides methods into
a layered system of protocols, originally documented in RFC 1122 and
RFC 1123. The layers correspond to the environment or scope in which
their services operate. At the top is the application layer, space for
the application-specific networking methods used in software
applications. For example, a web browser program uses the
client-server application model and a specific protocol of interaction
between servers and clients, while many file-sharing systems use a
peer-to-peer paradigm. Below this top layer, the transport layer
connects applications on different hosts with a logical channel
through the network with appropriate data exchange methods.
Underlying these layers are the networking technologies that
interconnect networks at their borders and exchange traffic across
Internet layer enables computers to identify and locate each
Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and routes their traffic
via intermediate (transit) networks. Last, at the bottom of the
architecture is the link layer, which provides logical connectivity
between hosts on the same network link, such as a local area network
(LAN) or a dial-up connection. The model, also known as TCP/IP, is
designed to be independent of the underlying hardware used for the
physical connections, which the model does not concern itself with in
any detail. Other models have been developed, such as the OSI model,
that attempt to be comprehensive in every aspect of communications.
While many similarities exist between the models, they are not
compatible in the details of description or implementation. Yet,
TCP/IP protocols are usually included in the discussion of OSI
As user data is processed through the protocol stack, each abstraction
layer adds encapsulation information at the sending host. Data is
transmitted over the wire at the link level between hosts and routers.
Encapsulation is removed by the receiving host. Intermediate relays
update link encapsulation at each hop, and inspect the IP layer for
The most prominent component of the
Internet model is the Internet
Protocol (IP), which provides addressing systems, including IP
addresses, for computers on the network. IP enables internetworking
and, in essence, establishes the
Version 4 (IPv4) is the initial version used on the first generation
Internet and is still in dominant use. It was designed to
address up to ~4.3 billion (109) hosts. However, the explosive
growth of the
Internet has led to
IPv4 address exhaustion, which
entered its final stage in 2011, when the global address
allocation pool was exhausted. A new protocol version, IPv6, was
developed in the mid-1990s, which provides vastly larger addressing
capabilities and more efficient routing of
currently in growing deployment around the world, since Internet
address registries (RIRs) began to urge all resource managers to plan
rapid adoption and conversion.
IPv6 is not directly interoperable by design with IPv4. In essence, it
establishes a parallel version of the
Internet not directly accessible
IPv4 software. Thus, translation facilities must exist for
internetworking or nodes must have duplicate networking software for
both networks. Essentially all modern computer operating systems
support both versions of the
Internet Protocol. Network
infrastructure, however, has been lagging in this development. Aside
from the complex array of physical connections that make up its
Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral
commercial contracts, e.g., peering agreements, and by technical
specifications or protocols that describe the exchange of data over
the network. Indeed, the
Internet is defined by its interconnections
and routing policies.
Internet carries many network services, most prominently mobile
apps such as social media apps, the World Wide Web, electronic mail,
multiplayer online games,
Internet telephony, and file sharing
World Wide Web
Main article: World Wide Web
NeXT Computer was used by
Tim Berners-Lee at
CERN and became the
world's first Web server.
Many people use, erroneously, the terms
Internet and World Wide Web,
or just the Web, interchangeably, but the two terms are not
World Wide Web
World Wide Web is the primary application program that
billions of people use on the Internet, and it has changed their lives
immeasurably. However, the
Internet provides many other
services. The Web is a global set of documents, images and other
resources, logically interrelated by hyperlinks and referenced with
Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). URIs symbolically identify
services, servers, and other databases, and the documents and
resources that they can provide.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is
the main access protocol of the World Wide Web. Web services also use
HTTP to allow software systems to communicate in order to share and
exchange business logic and data.
World Wide Web
World Wide Web browser software, such as Microsoft's Internet
Explorer/Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Apple's Safari, and Google
Chrome, lets users navigate from one web page to another via
hyperlinks embedded in the documents. These documents may also contain
any combination of computer data, including graphics, sounds, text,
video, multimedia and interactive content that runs while the user is
interacting with the page. Client-side software can include
animations, games, office applications and scientific demonstrations.
Internet research using search engines like
Yahoo!, Bing and Google, users worldwide have easy, instant access to
a vast and diverse amount of online information. Compared to printed
media, books, encyclopedias and traditional libraries, the World Wide
Web has enabled the decentralization of information on a large scale.
The Web has also enabled individuals and organizations to publish
ideas and information to a potentially large audience online at
greatly reduced expense and time delay. Publishing a web page, a blog,
or building a website involves little initial cost and many cost-free
services are available. However, publishing and maintaining large,
professional web sites with attractive, diverse and up-to-date
information is still a difficult and expensive proposition. Many
individuals and some companies and groups use web logs or blogs, which
are largely used as easily updatable online diaries. Some commercial
organizations encourage staff to communicate advice in their areas of
specialization in the hope that visitors will be impressed by the
expert knowledge and free information, and be attracted to the
corporation as a result.
Advertising on popular web pages can be lucrative, and e-commerce,
which is the sale of products and services directly via the Web,
continues to grow.
Online advertising is a form of marketing and
advertising which uses the
Internet to deliver promotional marketing
messages to consumers. It includes email marketing, search engine
marketing (SEM), social media marketing, many types of display
advertising (including web banner advertising), and mobile
advertising. In 2011,
Internet advertising revenues in the United
States surpassed those of cable television and nearly exceeded those
of broadcast television.:19 Many common online advertising
practices are controversial and increasingly subject to regulation.
When the Web developed in the 1990s, a typical web page was stored in
completed form on a web server, formatted in HTML, complete for
transmission to a web browser in response to a request. Over time, the
process of creating and serving web pages has become dynamic, creating
a flexible design, layout, and content. Websites are often created
using content management software with, initially, very little
content. Contributors to these systems, who may be paid staff, members
of an organization or the public, fill underlying databases with
content using editing pages designed for that purpose while casual
visitors view and read this content in
HTML form. There may or may not
be editorial, approval and security systems built into the process of
taking newly entered content and making it available to the target
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Email is an important communications service available on the
Internet. The concept of sending electronic text messages between
parties in a way analogous to mailing letters or memos predates the
creation of the Internet. Pictures, documents, and other files are
sent as email attachments. Emails can be cc-ed to multiple email
Internet telephony is another common communications service made
possible by the creation of the Internet.
VoIP stands for
Internet Protocol, referring to the protocol that underlies
Internet communication. The idea began in the early 1990s with
walkie-talkie-like voice applications for personal computers. In
recent years many
VoIP systems have become as easy to use and as
convenient as a normal telephone. The benefit is that, as the Internet
carries the voice traffic,
VoIP can be free or cost much less than a
traditional telephone call, especially over long distances and
especially for those with always-on
Internet connections such as cable
VoIP is maturing into a competitive alternative to
traditional telephone service. Interoperability between different
providers has improved and the ability to call or receive a call from
a traditional telephone is available. Simple, inexpensive
adapters are available that eliminate the need for a personal
Voice quality can still vary from call to call, but is often equal to
and can even exceed that of traditional calls. Remaining problems for
VoIP include emergency telephone number dialing and reliability.
Currently, a few
VoIP providers provide an emergency service, but it
is not universally available. Older traditional phones with no "extra
features" may be line-powered only and operate during a power failure;
VoIP can never do so without a backup power source for the phone
equipment and the
Internet access devices.
VoIP has also become
increasingly popular for gaming applications, as a form of
communication between players. Popular
VoIP clients for gaming include
Ventrilo and Teamspeak. Modern video game consoles also offer VoIP
File sharing is an example of transferring large amounts of data
across the Internet. A computer file can be emailed to customers,
colleagues and friends as an attachment. It can be uploaded to a
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server for easy download by
others. It can be put into a "shared location" or onto a file server
for instant use by colleagues. The load of bulk downloads to many
users can be eased by the use of "mirror" servers or peer-to-peer
networks. In any of these cases, access to the file may be controlled
by user authentication, the transit of the file over the
be obscured by encryption, and money may change hands for access to
the file. The price can be paid by the remote charging of funds from,
for example, a credit card whose details are also passed –
usually fully encrypted – across the Internet. The origin and
authenticity of the file received may be checked by digital signatures
MD5 or other message digests. These simple features of the
Internet, over a worldwide basis, are changing the production, sale,
and distribution of anything that can be reduced to a computer file
for transmission. This includes all manner of print publications,
software products, news, music, film, video, photography, graphics and
the other arts. This in turn has caused seismic shifts in each of the
existing industries that previously controlled the production and
distribution of these products.
Streaming media is the real-time delivery of digital media for the
immediate consumption or enjoyment by end users. Many radio and
television broadcasters provide
Internet feeds of their live audio and
video productions. They may also allow time-shift viewing or listening
such as Preview, Classic Clips and Listen Again features. These
providers have been joined by a range of pure
who never had on-air licenses. This means that an Internet-connected
device, such as a computer or something more specific, can be used to
access on-line media in much the same way as was previously possible
only with a television or radio receiver. The range of available types
of content is much wider, from specialized technical webcasts to
on-demand popular multimedia services. Podcasting is a variation on
this theme, where – usually audio – material is
downloaded and played back on a computer or shifted to a portable
media player to be listened to on the move. These techniques using
simple equipment allow anybody, with little censorship or licensing
control, to broadcast audio-visual material worldwide.
Digital media streaming increases the demand for network bandwidth.
For example, standard image quality needs 1 Mbit/s link speed for SD
480p, HD 720p quality requires 2.5 Mbit/s, and the top-of-the-line HDX
quality needs 4.5 Mbit/s for 1080p.
Webcams are a low-cost extension of this phenomenon. While some
webcams can give full-frame-rate video, the picture either is usually
small or updates slowly.
Internet users can watch animals around an
African waterhole, ships in the Panama Canal, traffic at a local
roundabout or monitor their own premises, live and in real time. Video
chat rooms and video conferencing are also popular with many uses
being found for personal webcams, with and without two-way sound.
YouTube was founded on 15 February 2005 and is now the leading website
for free streaming video with a vast number of users. It uses a
flash-based web player to stream and show video files. Registered
users may upload an unlimited amount of video and build their own
YouTube claims that its users watch hundreds of
millions, and upload hundreds of thousands of videos daily. Currently,
YouTube also uses an
Internet has enabled new forms of social interaction, activities,
and social associations. This phenomenon has given rise to the
scholarly study of the sociology of the Internet.
Global Internet usage
Global Internet usage and English on the Internet
Internet users per 100 inhabitants
Source: International Telecommunications Union.
Internet users by language
Website content languages
Internet usage has seen tremendous growth. From 2000 to 2009, the
Internet users globally rose from 394 million to 1.858
billion. By 2010, 22 percent of the world's population had access
to computers with 1 billion
Google searches every day, 300 million
Internet users reading blogs, and 2 billion videos viewed daily on
YouTube. In 2014 the world's
Internet users surpassed 3 billion or
43.6 percent of world population, but two-thirds of the users came
from richest countries, with 78.0 percent of
population using the Internet, followed by 57.4 percent of the
The prevalent language for communication on the
Internet has been
English. This may be a result of the origin of the Internet, as well
as the language's role as a lingua franca. Early computer systems were
limited to the characters in the American Standard Code for
Information Interchange (ASCII), a subset of the Latin alphabet.
After English (27%), the most requested languages on the World Wide
Web are Chinese (25%), Spanish (8%), Japanese (5%), Portuguese and
German (4% each), Arabic, French and Russian (3% each), and Korean
(2%). By region, 42% of the world's
Internet users are based in
Asia, 24% in Europe, 14% in North America, 10% in
Latin America and
Caribbean taken together, 6% in Africa, 3% in the
Middle East and
1% in Australia/Oceania. The Internet's technologies have
developed enough in recent years, especially in the use of Unicode,
that good facilities are available for development and communication
in the world's widely used languages. However, some glitches such as
mojibake (incorrect display of some languages' characters) still
In an American study in 2005, the percentage of men using the Internet
was very slightly ahead of the percentage of women, although this
difference reversed in those under 30. Men logged on more often, spent
more time online, and were more likely to be broadband users, whereas
women tended to make more use of opportunities to communicate (such as
email). Men were more likely to use the
Internet to pay bills,
participate in auctions, and for recreation such as downloading music
and videos. Men and women were equally likely to use the
shopping and banking. More recent studies indicate that in 2008,
women significantly outnumbered men on most social networking sites,
Facebook and Myspace, although the ratios varied with age.
In addition, women watched more streaming content, whereas men
downloaded more. In terms of blogs, men were more likely to blog
in the first place; among those who blog, men were more likely to have
a professional blog, whereas women were more likely to have a personal
Forecasts predict that 44% of the world's population will be users of
Internet by 2020. Splitting by country, in 2012 Iceland,
Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark had the highest Internet
penetration by the number of users, with 93% or more of the population
Several neologisms exist that refer to
Netizen (as in
as in "citizen of the net") refers to those actively involved in
improving online communities, the
Internet in general or surrounding
political affairs and rights such as free speech, Internaut
refers to operators or technically highly capable users of the
Internet, digital citizen refers to a person using the
Internet in order to engage in society, politics, and government
Internet allows greater flexibility in working hours and location,
especially with the spread of unmetered high-speed connections. The
Internet can be accessed almost anywhere by numerous means, including
Internet devices. Mobile phones, datacards, handheld
game consoles and cellular routers allow users to connect to the
Internet wirelessly. Within the limitations imposed by small screens
and other limited facilities of such pocket-sized devices, the
services of the Internet, including email and the web, may be
available. Service providers may restrict the services offered and
mobile data charges may be significantly higher than other access
Educational material at all levels from pre-school to post-doctoral is
available from websites. Examples range from CBeebies, through school
and high-school revision guides and virtual universities, to access to
top-end scholarly literature through the likes of
Google Scholar. For
distance education, help with homework and other assignments,
self-guided learning, whiling away spare time, or just looking up more
detail on an interesting fact, it has never been easier for people to
access educational information at any level from anywhere. The
Internet in general and the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web in particular are important
enablers of both formal and informal education. Further, the Internet
allows universities, in particular, researchers from the social and
behavioral sciences, to conduct research remotely via virtual
laboratories, with profound changes in reach and generalizability of
findings as well as in communication between scientists and in the
publication of results.
The low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and
skills have made collaborative work dramatically easier, with the help
of collaborative software. Not only can a group cheaply communicate
and share ideas but the wide reach of the
Internet allows such groups
more easily to form. An example of this is the free software movement,
which has produced, among other things, Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and
OpenOffice.org (later forked into LibreOffice).
Internet chat, whether
IRC chat room, an instant messaging system, or a social
networking website, allows colleagues to stay in touch in a very
convenient way while working at their computers during the day.
Messages can be exchanged even more quickly and conveniently than via
email. These systems may allow files to be exchanged, drawings and
images to be shared, or voice and video contact between team members.
Content management systems allow collaborating teams to work on shared
sets of documents simultaneously without accidentally destroying each
other's work. Business and project teams can share calendars as well
as documents and other information. Such collaboration occurs in a
wide variety of areas including scientific research, software
development, conference planning, political activism and creative
writing. Social and political collaboration is also becoming more
widespread as both
Internet access and computer literacy spread.
Internet allows computer users to remotely access other computers
and information stores easily from any access point. Access may be
with computer security, i.e. authentication and encryption
technologies, depending on the requirements. This is encouraging new
ways of working from home, collaboration and information sharing in
many industries. An accountant sitting at home can audit the books of
a company based in another country, on a server situated in a third
country that is remotely maintained by IT specialists in a fourth.
These accounts could have been created by home-working bookkeepers, in
other remote locations, based on information emailed to them from
offices all over the world. Some of these things were possible before
the widespread use of the Internet, but the cost of private leased
lines would have made many of them infeasible in practice. An office
worker away from their desk, perhaps on the other side of the world on
a business trip or a holiday, can access their emails, access their
data using cloud computing, or open a remote desktop session into
their office PC using a secure virtual private network (VPN)
connection on the Internet. This can give the worker complete access
to all of their normal files and data, including email and other
applications, while away from the office. It has been referred to
among system administrators as the Virtual Private Nightmare,
because it extends the secure perimeter of a corporate network into
remote locations and its employees' homes.
Social networking and entertainment
Social networking service § Social impact
Many people use the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web to access news, weather and sports
reports, to plan and book vacations and to pursue their personal
interests. People use chat, messaging and email to make and stay in
touch with friends worldwide, sometimes in the same way as some
previously had pen pals.
Social networking websites such as Facebook,
Myspace have created new ways to socialize and interact.
Users of these sites are able to add a wide variety of information to
pages, to pursue common interests, and to connect with others. It is
also possible to find existing acquaintances, to allow communication
among existing groups of people. Sites like
LinkedIn foster commercial
and business connections.
Flickr specialize in users'
videos and photographs. While social networking sites were initially
for individuals only, today they are widely used by businesses and
other organizations to promote their brands, to market to their
customers and to encourage posts to "go viral". "Black hat" social
media techniques are also employed by some organizations, such as spam
accounts and astroturfing.
A risk for both individuals and organizations writing posts
(especially public posts) on social networking websites, is that
especially foolish or controversial posts occasionally lead to an
unexpected and possibly large-scale backlash on social media from
Internet users. This is also a risk in relation to controversial
offline behavior, if it is widely made known. The nature of this
backlash can range widely from counter-arguments and public mockery,
through insults and hate speech, to, in extreme cases, rape and death
threats. The online disinhibition effect describes the tendency of
many individuals to behave more stridently or offensively online than
they would in person. A significant number of feminist women have been
the target of various forms of harassment in response to posts they
have made on social media, and
Twitter in particular has been
criticised in the past for not doing enough to aid victims of online
For organizations, such a backlash can cause overall brand damage,
especially if reported by the media. However, this is not always the
case, as any brand damage in the eyes of people with an opposing
opinion to that presented by the organization could sometimes be
outweighed by strengthening the brand in the eyes of others.
Furthermore, if an organization or individual gives in to demands that
others perceive as wrong-headed, that can then provoke a
Some websites, such as Reddit, have rules forbidding the posting of
personal information of individuals (also known as doxxing), due to
concerns about such postings leading to mobs of large numbers of
Internet users directing harassment at the specific individuals
thereby identified. In particular, the
Reddit rule forbidding the
posting of personal information is widely understood to imply that all
identifying photos and names must be censored in
posted to Reddit. However, the interpretation of this rule in relation
Twitter posts is less clear, and in any case, like-minded
people online have many other ways they can use to direct each other's
attention to public social media posts they disagree with.
Children also face dangers online such as cyberbullying and approaches
by sexual predators, who sometimes pose as children themselves.
Children may also encounter material which they may find upsetting, or
material which their parents consider to be not age-appropriate. Due
to naivety, they may also post personal information about themselves
online, which could put them or their families at risk unless warned
not to do so. Many parents choose to enable
Internet filtering, and/or
supervise their children's online activities, in an attempt to protect
their children from inappropriate material on the Internet. The most
popular social networking websites, such as
Facebook and Twitter,
commonly forbid users under the age of 13. However, these policies are
typically trivial to circumvent by registering an account with a false
birth date, and a significant number of children aged under 13 join
such sites anyway.
Social networking sites for younger children, which
claim to provide better levels of protection for children, also
Internet has been a major outlet for leisure activity since its
inception, with entertaining social experiments such as MUDs and MOOs
being conducted on university servers, and humor-related
receiving much traffic. Many
Internet forums have
sections devoted to games and funny videos. The
Internet pornography and online gambling industries have taken
advantage of the World Wide Web, and often provide a significant
source of advertising revenue for other websites. Although many
governments have attempted to restrict both industries' use of the
Internet, in general, this has failed to stop their widespread
Another area of leisure activity on the
Internet is multiplayer
gaming. This form of recreation creates communities, where people
of all ages and origins enjoy the fast-paced world of multiplayer
games. These range from
MMORPG to first-person shooters, from
role-playing video games to online gambling. While online gaming has
been around since the 1970s, modern modes of online gaming began with
subscription services such as GameSpy and MPlayer. Non-subscribers
were limited to certain types of game play or certain games. Many
people use the
Internet to access and download music, movies and other
works for their enjoyment and relaxation. Free and fee-based services
exist for all of these activities, using centralized servers and
distributed peer-to-peer technologies. Some of these sources exercise
more care with respect to the original artists' copyrights than
Internet usage has been correlated to users' loneliness. Lonely
people tend to use the
Internet as an outlet for their feelings and to
share their stories with others, such as in the "I am lonely will
anyone speak to me" thread.
Cybersectarianism is a new organizational form which involves: "highly
dispersed small groups of practitioners that may remain largely
anonymous within the larger social context and operate in relative
secrecy, while still linked remotely to a larger network of believers
who share a set of practices and texts, and often a common devotion to
a particular leader. Overseas supporters provide funding and support;
domestic practitioners distribute tracts, participate in acts of
resistance, and share information on the internal situation with
outsiders. Collectively, members and practitioners of such sects
construct viable virtual communities of faith, exchanging personal
testimonies and engaging in the collective study via email, on-line
chat rooms, and web-based message boards." In particular, the
British government has raised concerns about the prospect of young
British Muslims being indoctrinated into Islamic extremism by material
on the Internet, being persuaded to join terrorist groups such as the
so-called "Islamic State", and then potentially committing acts of
terrorism on returning to Britain after fighting in Syria or Iraq.
Cyberslacking can become a drain on corporate resources; the average
UK employee spent 57 minutes a day surfing the Web while at work,
according to a 2003 study by Peninsula Business Services. Internet
addiction disorder is excessive computer use that interferes with
Nicholas G. Carr
Nicholas G. Carr believes that
Internet use has other
effects on individuals, for instance improving skills of scan-reading
and interfering with the deep thinking that leads to true
Electronic business (e-business) encompasses business processes
spanning the entire value chain: purchasing, supply chain management,
marketing, sales, customer service, and business relationship.
E-commerce seeks to add revenue streams using the
Internet to build
and enhance relationships with clients and partners. According to
International Data Corporation, the size of worldwide e-commerce, when
global business-to-business and -consumer transactions are combined,
equate to $16 trillion for 2013. A report by Oxford Economics adds
those two together to estimate the total size of the digital economy
at $20.4 trillion, equivalent to roughly 13.8% of global sales.
While much has been written of the economic advantages of
Internet-enabled commerce, there is also evidence that some aspects of
Internet such as maps and location-aware services may serve to
reinforce economic inequality and the digital divide. Electronic
commerce may be responsible for consolidation and the decline of
mom-and-pop, brick and mortar businesses resulting in increases in
Author Andrew Keen, a long-time critic of the social transformations
caused by the Internet, has recently focused on the economic effects
of consolidation from
Internet businesses. Keen cites a 2013 Institute
for Local Self-Reliance report saying brick-and-mortar retailers
employ 47 people for every $10 million in sales while Amazon employs
only 14. Similarly, the 700-employee room rental start-up
valued at $10 billion in 2014, about half as much as Hilton Hotels,
which employs 152,000 people. And car-sharing
Internet startup Uber
employs 1,000 full-time employees and is valued at $18.2 billion,
about the same valuation as Avis and Hertz combined, which together
employ almost 60,000 people.
Telecommuting is the performance within a traditional worker and
employer relationship when it is facilitated by tools such as
groupware, virtual private networks, conference calling,
videoconferencing, and voice over IP (VOIP) so that work may be
performed from any location, most conveniently the worker's home. It
can be efficient and useful for companies as it allows workers to
communicate over long distances, saving significant amounts of travel
time and cost. As broadband
Internet connections become commonplace,
more workers have adequate bandwidth at home to use these tools to
link their home to their corporate intranet and internal communication
Wikis have also been used in the academic community for sharing and
dissemination of information across institutional and international
boundaries. In those settings, they have been found useful for
collaboration on grant writing, strategic planning, departmental
documentation, and committee work. The United States Patent and
Trademark Office uses a wiki to allow the public to collaborate on
finding prior art relevant to examination of pending patent
applications. Queens, New York has used a wiki to allow citizens to
collaborate on the design and planning of a local park. The
English has the largest user base among wikis on the World
Wide Web and ranks in the top 10 among all Web sites in terms of
Politics and political revolutions
Internet censorship, Culture of fear, and Mass surveillance
Bangkok during the 2014 Thai coup d'état, informing the
Thai public that 'like' or 'share' activities on social media could
result in imprisonment (observed June 30, 2014).
Internet has achieved new relevance as a political tool. The
presidential campaign of
Howard Dean in 2004 in the United States was
notable for its success in soliciting donation via the Internet. Many
political groups use the
Internet to achieve a new method of
organizing for carrying out their mission, having given rise to
Internet activism, most notably practiced by rebels in the Arab
The New York Times
The New York Times suggested that social media
websites, such as
Facebook and Twitter, helped people organize the
political revolutions in Egypt, by helping activists organize
protests, communicate grievances, and disseminate information.
The potential of the
Internet as a civic tool of communicative power
was explored by Simon R. B. Berdal in his 2004 thesis:
As the globally evolving
Internet provides ever new access points to
virtual discourse forums, it also promotes new civic relations and
associations within which communicative power may flow and accumulate.
Thus, traditionally … national-embedded peripheries get entangled
into greater, international peripheries, with stronger combined
powers... The Internet, as a consequence, changes the topology of the
"centre-periphery" model, by stimulating conventional peripheries to
interlink into "super-periphery" structures, which enclose and
"besiege" several centres at once.
Berdal, therefore, extends the Habermasian notion of the public sphere
to the Internet, and underlines the inherent global and civic nature
Internet technologies provide. To limit the growing
civic potential of the Internet, Berdal also notes how
"self-protective measures" are put in place by those threatened by it:
If we consider China’s attempts to filter "unsuitable material" from
the Internet, most of us would agree that this resembles a
self-protective measure by the system against the growing civic
potentials of the Internet. Nevertheless, both types represent
limitations to "peripheral capacities". Thus, the Chinese government
tries to prevent communicative power to build up and unleash (as the
1989 Tiananmen Square uprising suggests, the government may find it
wise to install "upstream measures"). Even though limited, the
Internet is proving to be an empowering tool also to the Chinese
periphery: Analysts believe that
Internet petitions have influenced
policy implementation in favour of the public’s online-articulated
Incidents of politically motivated
Internet censorship have now been
recorded in many countries, including western democracies.
The spread of low-cost
Internet access in developing countries has
opened up new possibilities for peer-to-peer charities, which allow
individuals to contribute small amounts to charitable projects for
other individuals. Websites, such as
DonorsChoose and GlobalGiving,
allow small-scale donors to direct funds to individual projects of
their choice. A popular twist on Internet-based philanthropy is the
use of peer-to-peer lending for charitable purposes. Kiva pioneered
this concept in 2005, offering the first web-based service to publish
individual loan profiles for funding. Kiva raises funds for local
intermediary microfinance organizations which post stories and updates
on behalf of the borrowers. Lenders can contribute as little as $25 to
loans of their choice, and receive their money back as borrowers
repay. Kiva falls short of being a pure peer-to-peer charity, in that
loans are disbursed before being funded by lenders and borrowers do
not communicate with lenders themselves.
However, the recent spread of low-cost
Internet access in developing
countries has made genuine international person-to-person philanthropy
increasingly feasible. In 2009, the US-based nonprofit
into this trend to offer the first person-to-person microfinance
platform to link lenders and borrowers across international borders
without intermediaries. Members can fund loans for as little as a
dollar, which the borrowers then use to develop business activities
that improve their families' incomes while repaying loans to the
members with interest. Borrowers access the
Internet via public
cybercafes, donated laptops in village schools, and even smart phones,
then create their own profile pages through which they share photos
and information about themselves and their businesses. As they repay
their loans, borrowers continue to share updates and dialogue with
lenders via their profile pages. This direct web-based connection
allows members themselves to take on many of the communication and
recording tasks traditionally performed by local organizations,
bypassing geographic barriers and dramatically reducing the cost of
microfinance services to the entrepreneurs.
Internet resources, hardware, and software components are the target
of criminal or malicious attempts to gain unauthorized control to
cause interruptions, commit fraud, engage in blackmail or access
Main article: Malware
Malicious software used and spread on the
Internet includes computer
viruses which copy with the help of humans, computer worms which copy
themselves automatically, software for denial of service attacks,
ransomware, botnets, and spyware that reports on the activity and
typing of users. Usually, these activities constitute cybercrime.
Defense theorists have also speculated about the possibilities of
cyber warfare using similar methods on a large scale.
Main article: Computer and network surveillance
Signals intelligence and Mass surveillance
The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of
data and traffic on the Internet. In the United States for
example, under the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act,
all phone calls and broadband
Internet traffic (emails, web traffic,
instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded
real-time monitoring by Federal law enforcement
Packet capture is the monitoring of data
traffic on a computer network. Computers communicate over the Internet
by breaking up messages (emails, images, videos, web pages, files,
etc.) into small chunks called "packets", which are routed through a
network of computers, until they reach their destination, where they
are assembled back into a complete "message" again. Packet Capture
Appliance intercepts these packets as they are traveling through the
network, in order to examine their contents using other programs. A
packet capture is an information gathering tool, but not an analysis
tool. That is it gathers "messages" but it does not analyze them and
figure out what they mean. Other programs are needed to perform
traffic analysis and sift through intercepted data looking for
important/useful information. Under the Communications Assistance For
Law Enforcement Act all U.S. telecommunications providers are required
to install packet sniffing technology to allow Federal law enforcement
and intelligence agencies to intercept all of their customers'
Internet and voice over
Internet protocol (VoIP)
The large amount of data gathered from packet capturing requires
surveillance software that filters and reports relevant information,
such as the use of certain words or phrases, the access of certain
types of web sites, or communicating via email or chat with certain
parties. Agencies, such as the Information Awareness Office, NSA,
GCHQ and the FBI, spend billions of dollars per year to develop,
purchase, implement, and operate systems for interception and analysis
of data. Similar systems are operated by Iranian secret police to
identify and suppress dissidents. The required hardware and software
was allegedly installed by German
Siemens AG and Finnish Nokia.
Internet censorship and surveillance by country
Little or none
Not classified or no data
Internet censorship and
Culture of fear and Great Firewall
Some governments, such as those of Burma, Iran, North Korea, the
Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates restrict
access to content on the
Internet within their territories, especially
to political and religious content, with domain name and keyword
In Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, major
providers have voluntarily agreed to restrict access to sites listed
by authorities. While this list of forbidden resources is supposed to
contain only known child pornography sites, the content of the list is
secret. Many countries, including the United States, have enacted
laws against the possession or distribution of certain material, such
as child pornography, via the Internet, but do not mandate filter
software. Many free or commercially available software programs,
called content-control software are available to users to block
offensive websites on individual computers or networks, in order to
limit access by children to pornographic material or depiction of
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July
Internet is a heterogeneous network, the physical
characteristics, including for example the data transfer rates of
connections, vary widely. It exhibits emergent phenomena that depend
on its large-scale organization.
Internet blackout or outage can be caused by local signalling
interruptions. Disruptions of submarine communications cables may
cause blackouts or slowdowns to large areas, such as in the 2008
submarine cable disruption. Less-developed countries are more
vulnerable due to a small number of high-capacity links. Land cables
are also vulnerable, as in 2011 when a woman digging for scrap metal
severed most connectivity for the nation of Armenia. Internet
blackouts affecting almost entire countries can be achieved by
governments as a form of
Internet censorship, as in the blockage of
Internet in Egypt, whereby approximately 93% of networks were
without access in 2011 in an attempt to stop mobilization for
In 2011, researchers estimated the energy used by the
Internet to be
between 170 and 307 GW, less than two percent of the energy used by
humanity. This estimate included the energy needed to build, operate,
and periodically replace the estimated 750 million laptops, a billion
smart phones and 100 million servers worldwide as well as the energy
that routers, cell towers, optical switches,
Wi-Fi transmitters and
cloud storage devices use when transmitting Internet
Index of Internet-related articles
Open Systems Interconnection
Outline of the Internet
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BNF: cb12337059x (data)