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In-Depth Information
1.1. The Internet
Although popular media accounts are often confused and confusing, the
concept of the Internet really is rather simple: it's a worldwide collection
of computer networksa network of networkssharing digital information
via a common set of networking and software protocols.
Networks are not new to computers. What makes the Internet unique
is its worldwide collection of digital telecommunication links that share a
common set of computer-network technologies, protocols, and applica-
tions. Whether you run Microsoft Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS, or even
the now ancient Windows 3.1, when connected to the Internet, all com-
puters speak the same networking language and use functionally identic-
al programs, so you can exchange informationeven multimedia pictures
and soundwith someone next door or across the planet.
The common and now quite familiar programs people use to communic-
ate and distribute their work over the Internet have also found their way
into private and semiprivate networks. These so-called intranets and ex-
tranets use the same software, applications, and networking protocols as
the Internet. But unlike the Internet, intranets are private networks, with
access restricted to members of the institution. Likewise, extranets re-
strict access but use the Internet to provide services to members.
The Internet, on the other hand, seemingly has no restrictions. Anyone
with a computer and the right networking software and connection can
"get on the Net" and begin exchanging words, sounds, and pictures with
others around the world, day or night: no membership required. And
that's precisely what is confusing about the Internet.
Like an oriental bazaar, the Internet is not well organized, there are few
content guides, and it can take a lot of time and technical expertise to
tap its full potential. That's because....
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