CONFUSING CYBER WORLD
Welcome to a beginner’s guide on basic Internet knowledge. Have you just hopped into the Internet cyber world? Or maybe you are just curious to find out more? Either way, the Internet has become such a huge part of the world, and it is definitely hard to ignore.
But with many years of history, the Internet is definitely not an easy one to understand. There are a lot of underlying technologies, lingoes, and culture. So let us walk through some of these basics of the Internet in this guide – Read on!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
| Section A
Basics & History
| Section B
| Section C
BASICS & HISTORY
First, let us start with the very basics and a short history of the Internet – What it is, and how it came into existence.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET?
The internet is a globally connected network system that uses TCP/IP to transmit data via various types of media. The internet is a network of global exchanges – including private, public, business, academic and government networks – connected by guided, wireless and fiber-optic technologies.
That sure is a very technical definition of the Internet. But in the layman terms, the Internet will probably be a place where digital unicorns, cyber dragons, and trolls roam. Well, not quite. The Internet (yes, spelled with a capital “I”) is actually made up of 2 words – “Inter” and “Network”.
As many would have guessed, that is essentially many networks interlinked with each other, on a worldwide scale. This is also why we sometimes interchangeably call the Internet as the “world wide web” (WWW).
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE INTERNET
Once upon a time in the 1900s, the idea of a worldwide information network already exists. Yes, Nikola Tesla, the famous historic figure actually built an experimental wireless transmission station known as the Wardenclyffe Tower (or Tesla Tower), in hopes of using Earth to transmit messages wirelessly across the globe.
But ahem… This project didn’t quite get enough funding nor worked out properly. The tower is later disassembled to sell as scraps, and it is no longer standing today.
It was not until the 1960s that the “first version” of the Internet came into existence. It all began as a project that the U.S Department of Defense funded, called Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).
The idea is simple – By joining a group of devices together, we can create a communications network. By further linking many of these networks together, we get one very robust information network.
In the 1980s, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea of putting up hypertext documents on the network, and linking the documents with each other – This became to be known as our “websites” and “web pages” today.
This intrigued and sparked a lot of commercial interest, and the Internet boom came. By the mid-1990s, the Internet is already a well-known existence, forever changing the way people communicate, do business, and share information.
As computer technology became better, the Internet also evolved from being “text-only” to all kinds of funky stuff:
- Social Media
- Internet Telephone
- Video Calls
- Video Sharing
- 360° Videos
- Virtual Reality
- Augmented Reality
Even till this day, the Internet is still evolving with more exciting stuff coming up.
BASIC TECHNICAL STUFF
So far so good? In this section, let us touch a little bit more on the technologies that enable the Internet. In layman terms, of course.
CONNECTING TO THE INTERNET
As one may have guessed, we don’t just randomly find a connector in the wall, plug in, and get magically connected to the Internet.
- First, we have to subscribe to a service with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) – Every ISP will have various different plans and technologies to connect you to the Internet.
- But once subscribed, they will provide you with a modem (modulator-demodulator). This is the device that we use to connect to the Internet.
- While it is possible to directly connect a computer to the modem, people usually don’t do that… The smarter geeks may first connect an optional firewall to the modem to provide a layer of security.
- To share that Internet connection, we connect a wireless router to the modem to create our own wireless WIFI network. Take note, some routers these days may even come with a built-in firewall.
- Then, we simply connect all our devices to our private WIFI network – Computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even other devices such as network printers.
WIRELESS MOBILE NETWORK – 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G
Now, this is something that you will hear quite often and it is commonly confused with WIFI – 2G, 3G, 4G, or 5G wireless mobile network. Well, there is actually nothing much to be puzzled with. There are 2 ways to connect to the Internet:
- As above, sign up with an ISP. They will physically lay a connection point to your home, and we use a modem to connect to the Internet.
- Secondly, sign up for a mobile plan with a telco. They will provide you with a phone number and an Internet connection through the mobile network. I.E. The smartphone acts a wireless modem and connects to the Internet.
So yes, WIFI and a wireless mobile network are referring to 2 totally different technologies.
- WIFI is a short-range private wireless network.
- A mobile network covers entire countries and is a public wireless network.
As for the final 2G to 5G mystery, it simply refers to “generation”. 2G is the second generation of the mobile network, 3G being the third, and 5G is the fifth, and so on – Of course, the later generations offer a much faster and reliable Internet connection.
COMMON INTERNET SERVICES
Now that we have the technical stuff out of the way, let us walk through some of the common Internet services and lingoes in this final section.
Websites are probably one of the main “things” that you will find on the Internet, but there are quite a number of technical terms to know here. These are actually pretty simple terms, but somehow, geeky technical folks love to make them sound difficult.
- Website – A site on the Internet that serves information or provide a service.
- Webpage – A page on the website.
- Web Browser – What you are using right now. An application that is used to “surf the Internet” and to visit websites.
- URL – Uniform resource locator… Or simply the web address.
- HTTP and HTTPS – HyperText Transfer Protocol (The additional “S” is for secure). The technical stuff behind the World Wide Web, a set of rules that define how data should be sent across the Internet.
- Host – In computer terms, this will mean the server.
- HTML – Hypertext Markup Language. The raw coding behind how websites are being formatted.
- Upload – When you transfer data from your own computer device to another.
- Download – When you transfer data from another computing device to your own.
SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS
Social media networks are the phenomenon that hit the world sometime in the 2000s. These are simply websites that allow you to connect with friends, send messages, share some photos, and even short video clips of your everyday life. A couple of the popular ones being:
I guess this one is pretty much self-explanatory. Email is practically the short form for electronic mail, the digital version of the snail mail. There are plenty of free reliable ones you can sign up on the Internet:
“Cloud” is another term that you will probably stumble upon. In simple terms, “cloud computing” refers to using digital resources on the Internet instead of your own. For example:
- Cloud Drive – Keeping files on a server somewhere on the Internet.
- Cloud Accounting – Instead of buying and installing accounting software, the financial data and reports are directly done on through the Internet instead.
- Gaming-On-Demand – Instead of having to buy a physical gaming console and a physical copy of the game – Play right through the Internet on any device.
- Cloud Collaboration – Share documents on the Internet, let your own team (or the public) to co-author the project.
Of course, there are many more cloud services, and the number is still growing. Cloud computing is interesting in the sense that it can be accessed anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection – With any supported device. But of course, the disadvantage is that you will need an Internet connection to access the cloud services.
Finally, the Internet is not the safest place… Apart from computer viruses, there are all kinds of malware, trojan, worms, and even phishing – Fake websites that look like actual ones to fool people into entering their email and password. I will leave a link to a Cisco article below if you are interested to read on these threats.
That’s all for this tutorial, and here is a small section on some extras and links that may be useful to you.
LINKS & REFERENCES
- History of the Internet – Wikipedia
- Learn more – Internet Basics on GCFGlobal
- Internet Terms – Computer Hope
- Difference between computer virus – Cisco
Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this guide. I hope this has helped you to better understand, but we have really just scratched the surface. The Internet is still evolving, and things are forever changing – Please don’t stop here and continue learning!
But for now, if you have anything to share with this guide, please feel free to comment below. Good luck and may the cyber force be with you.