Week 1: The Internet VS the Web; Aren’t they the same thing?

Perhaps many of you, like me, have grown up with the Web, so much so that we simply refer to whatever that gets us online as the “Internet.” However, unknowingly, there’s actually a huge difference between the 2 terminologies. I was quite surprise to find that out during class, when our instructor questioned if there was a difference between them. (And to think I belong to a “tech-savvy” generation…)

So, to clarify the differences, let’s find out more.

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Don’t be fooled by the “Internet!” (Source)

The Internet

The Internet is basically an interconnection of networks that started out in 1969 as ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Believe it or not, the Internet is actually a hardware. You might be thinking, “How is this possible? My phone/computer is connected to the Internet, but I’m not using any cable. Such lies!” That is because you’re connecting to the Internet via wireless connections instead! Ultimately, we still need to use copper wires or fiber-optic cables (think fiber broadband from Singtel, Starhub, or M1), and that’s why the Internet is a hardware.

How the Internet works, is that it uses the Internet Protocol Suite, which is like a collection of rules and regulations that help manage data communication on the Internet, so that information can be shared among networks via the transmission of data packets. You can think of it as a postal system, where our mail gets sent from one place to another.

The Web

The Web (short for World Wide Web) came later in 1989 as an invention by Sir Timothy Berners-Lee (how cool is it that he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II!). It is a collection of pages that are interconnected using hyperlinks (like this) that are managed by the HyperText Transfer Protocol. Thus, the Web is actually a software that runs on the Internet, linking up text, images, videos, and any other hypertext documents on the Internet.I think most of you would know that in order to access the web, we would need to use a browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). It is no wonder now why the term is called “browse the net,” because it’s almost akin to browsing books at a library, moving from one book to another until you settle for one that’s to your liking. Similar to the call numbers of library books, webpages have URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) that help us to find them on the Internet.

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Here’s a cute illustration to help you visualize the relationship between the Internet and the Web. (Source)

Part of URLs, are domain names, and as we have learned, domain names and IP addresses are the same; the only difference is how they are represented (text VS numbers). Since domain names are creations that are subjected to one’s creativity, they may be unlimited (so to speak). However, IP addresses, on the other hand, are facing a serious issue of possible depletion because of the nature of how they are created. To give you a little background, an IP address (IPv4, running on 32 bits) is a series of 4 sets of numbers that are separated by dots. Each set of number can only run from 0 to 255, which means that there can only be 4,294,967,296 unique IP addresses. 4 billion may seem like a huge number, but if you think about the increasing number of devices that are connected to the the Internet, 4 billion is not going to be enough.

To tackle such issue, IPv6 was developed. IPv6 IP addresses contain 128 bits, which allows the total number of unique IP addresses to increase to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456. (This number sure is a tongue twister! Try saying it aloud: 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion, 463 sextillion, 463 quintillion, 374 quadrillion, 607 trillion, 431 billion, 768 million, 211 thousand and 456. Did you remember to breathe?)

Hopefully, with such a development, we might not run out of IP addresses in the near future until perhaps 50 years down the road when almost everything we use would run on the Internet (imagine Internet-enabled clothing, pens, saucepans, etc.). Although both IPv4 and IPv6 run side by side, the switch over to IPv6 has been slow, with only an adoption rate of about 29% in the United States.

I must admit that I ain’t no expert in this, so hopefully I didn’t mix up anything. I got quite confused myself as I was doing this little research. So, to sum up the difference (excuse the wordplay) between the Internet and the Web, here’s a nice little table:

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The Internet VS the Web in a nutshell. (Source)

As quoted by Michael Stevens from Vsauce,

“The Internet connects participants, the web connects information.”

Now that this is done for this week, it’s time to untangle myself from the Web.

P.S. I haven’t realized how long I have been MIA from the blogging world, so much so that I was still stuck on Blogger (until today when I had decided to move my post over). Now that I’ve seen the interface and design of WordPress, I’m totally sold. It’s no wonder why so many of my classmates are using it instead. This really goes to show how quickly things on the Internet change and develop, and how fast a platform can die out if it doesn’t follow trends.

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3 thoughts on “Week 1: The Internet VS the Web; Aren’t they the same thing?

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