The Internet


The “Internet” is the sum of all the computers (in the world) that are connected, at a given moment, through the world-wide telephone network in such a way that they can all communicate with each other in real-time.  Any single computer so hooked-up is either a server or a client.  Microsoft’s computers are an example of servers, your and my computers are examples of clients.  We clients are hooked up to the Internet by paying an Internet Access Provider for the privilege and having our computer connect to the ISP’s server through our telephone line.  Basic Internet services include: E-mail, WWW, News Groups, FTP, Chat, Mailing Lists and Gopher.

The Internet is the name of our newest communications medium, following the written word, the telephone, movies, radio and TV.  That it is going to transform the planet is not debatable.  Interestingly enough, whether governments want to censor it or not, they cannot; they can only waste your money trying.  It may be frightening, at first, to folks over thirty but it is really about world-wide individual empowerment through unfettered communications.


(electronic mail):

As mediums of two-way communication go, being there is the best.  Telephone is next, because you can interact in real-time, but it’s expensive.  Snail mail (the postal service) is cheaper than the phone (and its product can be used as evidence) but it is difficult, time-intensive, and a general pain in the behind.  E-mail is a form of communication that is quicker, easier and cheaper to create and to send than snail mail, and more versatile (pictures and documents can be sent) and cheaper than the phone.  One e-mail document can be sent to multiple addresses with no extra effort or expense.

(World-Wide Web):

The Web is the fastest-growing (if I told you how fast it was growing, and you thought about it, you wouldn’t believe me) service on the Internet.  It is what brought the Internet to everyone’s attention.  It is like putting the Windows visual interface on top of the Internet.  Whatever dry information you could have gotten from the Internet years ago has been re-packaged into a highly visually-appealing multi-media production.  Imagine going for a science book in a library and being sabotaged (like Pinocchio) by a(n interactive) TV show with all your favorite stars.  The WWW is the library (and TV and radio and video-library) of the future (and the future is now).

News Groups:

A News Group is an electronic bulletin-board, where anyone can post messages, dedicated to a single subject (like fan.Rod_Stewart or support.Ornish_program).  There are tens of thousands of such groups alive on the I-net.

(File Transfer Protocol):

We were all brought up with “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and “you get what you pay for.”  On the Internet, that paradigm is dead.  Great value is free.  Particularly software.  Netscape, that most famous of all IPO(Initial Public Offering)’s, got rich and famous by giving away its software to over 20 million fans worldwide.  Even Microsoft got the message; it is doing the same thing with its Internet software.  And there may be no Polaroid film to sell to justify giving away the camera.


Imagine electronic Citizens Band Radio.  Except no distance limitations.  Chat rooms are subject-based, just like News Groups.

Mailing Lists:

Imagine being an opera fan.  Imagine seeing an opera and recording your impressions of the event and then posting these impressions to all opera fans around the world (without the permission of the letters editor of that commercial Opera monthly).  Imagine being one of the thousand opera fans around the world receiving these comments.  In other words, imagine being in conversation about your favorite subject, every day, with other folks who care as deeply about it as you do.


You want to find some information on some subject.  But where is it to be found?  Use Gopher (and ask Archie or Veronica) to find out.  They will tell you what computer has it and will take you there and let you read it.


created on 7/28/1996