The Internet might not be as important as the invention of the wheel was in shaping the evolution of civilisation but by any standards it surely comes very close. Today, life without the Internet would be meaningless, much like a ship without a rudder. Look at all key activities that is done today – shopping, sending emails, Internet telephony, online music, Internet television, digital newspapers and live video streaming. The Internet has brought people closer together than ever before, almost like one large global village where national borders are redundant.
What then is the Internet? It is basically a global system of linked computer networks that use TCP/IP Internet protocol suite to connect devices throughout the world. It is made up of a network of trillions of networks that comprise business and government networks and private, public and academic networks. Each is connected from the local to the global scope through highly advanced electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. A vast array of information resources and services is sent over the Internet which ranges from electronic mail, file sharing, telephony and applications of the World Wide Web (www) including inter-linked hypertext documents.
The rudimentary form of the Internet can be traced back to 1960s when the federal Government of the United States commissioned research to go into building a reliable and fault-tolerant connectivity with computer networks. What emerged from the research was known as the ARPANET and this formed the basis for interconnection of military and regional academic networks in the 1980s. During this period in the 80s, private funding for commercial extensions as well as funding by the National Science Foundation Network led to path breaking development and evolution of new networking technologies.
By the 1990s, the Internet in its modern form slowly emerged after the linking of commercial networks and enterprises and received an exponential boost when all generations of personal, institutional and mobile computers were connected to it. With this commercialisation, the Internet began to pervade every aspect of human lives.
There is no standardised controlling or monitoring procedures for the Internet either in technological implementations or processes for access and usage. Every network has its own specific policies. However the primary name spaces of the Internet, the IP address (Internet Protocol address) and the DNS (Domain Name System) are directed by a maintaining body called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Almost all traditional communication channels have today been re-shaped by the Internet. Radio, television, paper mail and telephony are today redundant and have made way for all things digital based on the Internet. Personal interactions have changed through instant messaging services, social networking platforms and Internet forums. Even the concept of “brick and mortar stores” has taken a hit with more and more people preferring to shop online conveniently over the Internet.
If evolution of civilisation is to be chartered, the Internet would surely find pride of place.