How the Internet Works – Episode 5.
How the Internet Functions
Our How the Internet Works series takes you through everything you need to know about the Internet, from its core functionality to how that’s possible.
In case you missed it so far, we’ve covered:
- A broad definition of the Internet
- The architecture of the Internet
- The protocols that enable it, and
- just how data travels over this magnificent product of the technological revolution.
In this post, we’ll bring all the components that we have discussed together and take a look at what the difference is between the Internet and the World Wide Web.
Bringing It All Together
The World’s Data Logistics Service.
To understand how the elements we’ve described in this series work together as the Internet, it’s best to use the analogy of logistics.
Let’s say that you want to send your friend, Lenny, a video you’ve just made. You’ll need to specify Lenny’s address, so that the courier knows where to deliver it.
First, the video is broken up into easier-to-handle packets. Information about which part fits where is carefully recorded on the packets, along with your and Lenny’s addresses.
You then hand over the packets to your local courier, which in this case is your ISP. The ISP looks up Lenny’s location so that it knows exactly where the packets are destined. It calls up a trusted friend, the Domain Name Server, for the coordinates that match the address provided.
Instead of sending the packets in one large vehicle, the courier divides the packets amongst smaller vehicles and sends them on their way. The vehicles may not choose to follow the same path. This doesn’t matter while the packets are all in transit though because they headed to the same place.
Your friend lives far away, outside the area of operation for some of the vehicles. So they hand over the packets to other couriers that your ISP has working agreements with to assist with delivery. All the packets eventually arrive at your friends ISP who then directs all the packets to Lenny’s house. Lenny can reassemble the video, thanks to the handy instructions provided on the packets.
This is the overall concept of what happens when information is sent over the Internet. When you interact with the web, there a few additional processes taking place.
The Net makes the Web possible.
Remember how, in our first post, we said we would come back to the difference between the World Wide Web and the Internet? This is it.
When you open your browser and view things online, you are using an application over the Internet.
The Cogs that make World Wide Web work
The web is a collection of published pages that contain multimedia such as graphics, videos, text and sound. Multiple web pages hosted on one server makeup websites. All the pages on the web contain hyperlinks which we commonly refer to as links. And this is how the web got its name because all the pages on the Internet are linked and create an intricate web.
There are three standards that the web works on: HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
What is HTML?
HTML is the standard protocol for publishing content on the web. Thanks to HTML, we’re able to link between documents online. Every time you click on a link on a website, it’s HTML that allows you to travel to the page or document you’d like to access.
What is URI?
In our post about protocols, we mentioned that every device has a unique identifier – its IP address. URIs work the same – giving every document on the web a unique identifier. The most common form of URI is the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) – also known as a web address.
What is HTTP?
The HTTP command is part of the application layer of the TCP/IP protocol stack that we spoke about in our previous two posts. Web browsers and web servers use HTTP to communicate with each other. When you type www.bitco.co.za in your browser, you’ve entered our URL, which instructs your browser to locate and open BitCo’s website, using the HTTP command.
In keeping the logistics analogy, the World Wide Web is a sourcing service which uses the courier service to deliver anything you want.
Google and other search engines act as a shop steward who is able to help you find what you are looking for. Let’s say you are looking for a particular song, Google would investigate and bring back the best options. When you find the song you want and click “download” your order is processed and shipped to you via the Internet.
Now that you know what components make up the Internet and how they function, it’s time to explore what the Internet enables us to do. Our next post, The utility of the Internet takes a look at the benefits of the Internet.
Want to know more about how our local and international interconnect agreements can save your business time and money? Let’s setup a meeting so that we can show you.