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The Internet (portmanteau of interconnected network) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the 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 (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 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 marked 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 in the 1980s, commercialization incorporated its services and technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life.

Most traditional communication 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 telephony, 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 Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of personal interactions through instant messaging, 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 industries.

The Internet has no single centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own policies. The overreaching definitions of the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol address (IP address) space and the 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. In November 2006, the Internet was included on USA Today's list of New Seven Wonders.

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Screenshot of ScienTOMogy from November 2005
ScienTOMogy was a parody web site lampooning Tom Cruise's involvement with Scientology, initially hosted at the domain name scientomogy.info. The site was created in 2005 after increased media publicity surrounding Cruise's appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show. ScienTOMogy gained press attention after it was contacted by the Church of Scientology with a cease and desist letter, alleging copyright infringement over use of the word "Scientomogy", claiming that it was too close to the word "Scientology". The proprietor of the site initially agreed to relent to the Church's demands, but after consulting attorneys, instead decided to keep the site. Internet traffic to the site later increased dramatically as a result of the media and press attention surrounding the Church of Scientology's alleged copyright infringement claims.

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Lolcat or Cat Macro with white cat on laptop computer
Credit: Original: Jerry7171 Modified image: AmosWolfe

Lolcats are images combining photographs of animals, most frequently cats, with a subjectively humorous and idiosyncratic caption in broken English referred to as Kitty Pidgin, Kitteh, or lolspeak. The meme originated in the rule 1 and 2 imageboards as the Caturday internet phenomenon. The name "lolcat" is a compound word of "lol" and "cat". The phenomenon is also referred to as cat macros. Lolcats are created for photo sharing imageboards and other internet forums.

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Tim Berners-Lee in 2005
Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA (born June 8, 1955) is an English developer who invented the World Wide Web in March 1989. With the help of Mike Sendall, Robert Cailliau, and a young student staff at CERN, he implemented his invention in 1990, with the first successful communication between a client and server via the Internet on December 25, 1990. He is also the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (which oversees its continued development), and a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

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Alfonse D'Amato

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Jerrold Nadler
I rise today to support the efforts of citizens everywhere to protect free speech on the Internet. Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments to determine the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act [CDA], which criminalizes certain speech on the Internet. It is because of the hard work and dedication to free speech by netizens everywhere that this issue has gained the attention of the public, and now, our Nation's highest court. I have maintained from the very beginning that the CDA is unconstitutional, and I eagerly await the Supreme Court's decision on this case.

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