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Who cares how the Internet Works?

In order to understand the social and legal ramifications of a technology it is necessary to have at least some understanding of it. One could not expect to understand the consequences of laws regarding cars without understanding what a car was, a few basic facts about how one works, what a road is, etc. In much the same way, in order to understand how laws affect and are affected by the internet a basic understanding is necessary.

What is the Internet?

The internet is not a thing. It is not a place, a nation or an object. You cannot point at it, invade it, look inside it or take it apart.

The internet is not a series of web pages. It is not a collection of MP3s. It is not search engines or auction sites or bookshops or discussion boards. It is not chat programs or email or webcams or porn. You can use the internet to gain access to these things, but they are not what it is, any more than a restaurant is a meal or a university is a law degree.

The internet is nothing more than an agreement between a vast number of different organisations that their computer systems will communicate in a common tongue. That when person As PC requests information from company Bs massive mainframe or government Cs room packed full of computers it will be able to do so in single way.

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Last edited December 7, 2004 7:55 am by (diff)