The Internet and The Web Are Not The Same

As many of you may have heard or read, the World Wide Web, more commonly call the Web, turned 25 in March 2014. While conversing with friends and clients I became aware of a common misconception — that the Internet and the Web are the same thing. They are not the same thing. They are not synonyms. 

Briefly, the Internet is a network of networks. It is a collection of public, private, academic, business and government networks that are tied together using common communication protocols. In other words, the Internet can be thought of as the infrastructure that is used to connect all of these computers together. The infrastructure includes hardware (computers, servers, routers, cables, etc.) software and communication rules. The Web is only one of many services that works over the Internet.

The Web is certainly the most common way that most of us interact with the Internet, but when you send an instant message from your computer using Messages, transfer a file directly from one computer to another using FTP, make a Skype or FaceTime call, or send an email you are using the Internet, but not the Web.

The Web turned 25, as I mentioned. The Internet is maybe 5 or so years older, but it grew out of technology that was that developed starting in the 1960s. The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia offers a good, brief history of the Internet.

The Web, as you already know, is an enormous collection of interconnected, linked, pages of information. Individual pages of information are called web pages. A collection of web pages is called a website. So, this Tech Tip page is a web page, but it’s just one of hundreds of web pages that constitutes the Sound Support website.

One uses a web browser, like Safari or Firefox or Google’s Chrome, to view web pages. In order to find the information that we seek is this sea of websites, we commonly use a search engine like Google or Bing or the lesser known DuckDuckGo. As long as it remains available, you can enjoy this New York Times’ article that includes a brief history of the Web as well as the concerns of Tim Berners-Lee, one of the creators of the Web, about the future of the Web and the importance of net neutrality.

I hope this article helps to clarify some of these terms in your mind especially the difference between the Internet and the Web.

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