Just Explain It: The Internet And The World Wide Web

We’ll just say it. The World Wide Web and the Internet are not the same thing. We know, you might be shocked.

The Internet and the World Wide Web have become integral parts of our lives. For some going online is the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before going to bed.

But how they’re different and how they work together is the focus of today's Just Explain It.

The World Wide Web is the information, in the form of websites, that is found on the Internet. But before we get into that, here’s what they are and how they work together.

[Related: Why Americans Need Social Media “Vacation”]

The Internet’s precursor began as a U.S. military project in the 1950’s. It was called ARPAnet and eventually came online when it connected four university computers in 1969.

By 1984, it linked 1000 computers and was renamed the Internet, for interconnected network. And by 2012, the Internet had grown to 8.7 billion connected devices. While the Internet is the hardware made up of computers, servers, switches, and routers that contain data and allow it to travel, it’s also the software and communication protocols that allows different computers and networks to communicate. That makes it a “network of networks.”

The World Wide Web, on the other hand, allows users to access the information on the Internet by displaying web pages on a browser. Tim Berners-Lee created the Web in 1989, and in 1991 the first web page went live. There are now almost 650 million websites in the world.

[Related: Father Of The Web Scolds “Hypocritical” West Over Spying]


So, the Web is just one type of traffic on the Internet. Email, video chat, gaming, and many other types of data are like different kinds of vehicles that travel and rely on the infrastructure of that superhighway called the Internet.

How does the World Wide Web show information from the Internet?

As you already know, to get to a website, you type in its web address or uniform resource locator - better known as a URL – into a web browser. Entering the URL sends a request to a domain name server, or DNS, to access that website's server. Like a translator, the DNS converts the URL into an IP address. Every server and computer connected to the Internet has an IP, or Internet protocol, address. You could type an IP address into your browser, but IP addresses can change, and it's much easier to remember an address like yahoo.com.

After the DNS tells your computer the website’s correct IP address, your computer can then directly contact the website’s server. The website’s server responds to the request and sends the information back to your computer. Your computer’s web browser converts the information into a readable form. That's the website you see on your computer screen.

So, what do you think? What kind of vehicle do you prefer to drive on the Internet superhighway? Leave us your comments below or on Twitter using the #JustExplainItNews.
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