The Internet is a part of our everyday lives now, but that’s only a recent thing. In many ways, it’s a modern wonder, and it’s only because it’s so ubiquitous that we fail to recognise exactly how special it is.
The technological evolution of the Internet began with ARPANET and the invention of ‘packet switching’ technology. Military and academic users were the first to be focused on, and it wasn’t until only a couple of decades ago that we started to use the Internet for social interaction and commerce reasons.
The Internet, at first, wasn’t really an Internet, it was a collection of BBS services that people dialled individually. From there, the World Wide Web was developed – collections of web pages that were searchable using ‘gophers’ that would harvest information from pages. Email and UseNet were also a part of the early web – Usenet still exists today, although it is not used as much as it once was because there are easier and more convenient ways of communicating with large groups of people.
Online gaming, apps and streaming media and even Voice Over IP are all a part of the Internet now as well. Traffic is sent over different ports depending on what it’s for, and the way the traffic is handled (and what it looks like) might differ too, but everything you do online is done ‘over the Internet’.
Tim Berners-Lee is credited as being the father of the World Wide Web. He crafted the early HTML standard, which itself is a child of other markup languages that were used by academics to help them tag documents so that they could be understood by machines.
Since that early HTML standard, the way that web pages are made has evolved a lot. We now have style sheets and display frameworks that make it easier to make documents ‘look nice’, and myriad ways of adding interactivity to pages, by means that academics might not have cared about.
Today, the Internet is a much more widespread infrastructure, and we have the Internet of Things – it’s not just desktop computers, or even laptops and phones, that are connected to the internet – it’s every device that you could imagine. From fridges and kettles and washing machines to cars, medical devices, children’s toys – the Internet can be used to track and control almost anything.
These are amazing advances, and it makes you wonder what if coming in the near and distant future for the internet. However, there are rising concerns about safety and privacy online.
Scammers are more frequently using the internet to con people out of their money or to steal their identity. Therefore, it is very important that internet users familiarise themselves with the hazards of the online world and take necessary measures to protect themselves wherever possible.
Privacy is also another big issue. The majority of internet users are not aware that some of their private information is being broadcast to companies who use this date for commercial gain.
The internet is a wonderful thing, and it looks like it is here to stay. The face of the internet will likely change and evolve over time as we continue on into the next decade and beyond.
However, be sure to do all you can to protect yourself and your privacy from scammers and others whom you would not want to get your information.