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The Internet, or simply the Net, is the publicly accessible worldwide system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using a standardized Internet Protocol (IP). It is made up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic, domestic, and government networks. It carries various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, and the interlinked Web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.

Contrary to some common usage, the Internet and the World Wide Web are not synonymous: the Internet is a collection of interconnected computer networks, linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, etc.; the Web is a collection of interconnected documents, linked by hyperlinks and URLs, and is accessible using the Internet.

Currently the Internet is a trend for a greater diversity of hardware resources available across an increasingly diffused and connected global network using shared protocols. The Internet is a powerful communications technology that is becoming an important tool for research, knowledge sharing, information flow and popular communications.

The internet is becoming mainstream, almost common place. It can be found on numerous platforms and in all kinds of venues. It now has a countless number of functions and features. As the net develops a free, open, collaborative, online culture, some consider it an equal rival to the more established and centralized mass media outlets.

See also: DNS | network | online | cyberspace

History

During the 1990s hundreds of millions of people around the world connected to the internet for the first time, although the network had been conceptualised in the 1930s. It was not until the early 60's did any form of an internet begin to emerge. For the next three decades what became known as the internet was a US military technology, classified, and then widely developed by education and research professionals followed by other enthusiasts or early adopters in the home and other work environments where the desktop computer had penetrated.

By the late 1990s vast quantities of digital pirated music, software and other intellectual property was obtained in proportions unheard of previously. Because the internet is so good at spreading information between users, the issue of copyright infringement has grown. Such capacity has lead some to believe a healthy internet is a large part of being in the Information Age.

The internet still relies to a considerable degree on the telephone network and the centralized DNS. Key servers on the internet are reffered to as the backbone.

More

The internet has displayed phenomenonal rates of growth during the last decade with the number of users, particularly with the World Wide Web and e-mail. The dominant Internet Protocol and a system of URL's has provided a platform for the popular HTML and more recently XML.

The Internet is like computers, in that it is pro-pluralism and anti-authoritarianist. Internet allows for increased discovery of and interactivity with large quantities of interesting, useful information. E.g. P2p networks, software archives and databases.

The Internet is moving through an era of widespread distributed computing towards the development of ubiquitous computing. The spread of internet worms and other evolving malicious code suggets the internet is vulnerable to attack, because amongst a number of other reasons, is still not a true data haven. The internet has a large number of CPU cycles which are unused with random and even poor connections between them.

The internet allows users to easily form nodes within other sub-networks. In theory the internet opens the door to an infinite number of networks and peers. This allow for unbounded collaboration and cooperation. The connection factor is one of many reasons people use to determine the best method or form of communication across the internet, which includes:

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