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Answering your questions about the Internet.
Tell me all about the Internet
As an invention, the Internet has no peer. Yes, the Internet stands alone in the ability to disseminate information that’s enlightening and lowbrow, frivolous and fun. And it’s readily available to anyone who merges onto this information superhighway. (Psst--if you’re looking for songs by the band The Internet, you’re in the wrong place.)
Technically, the Internet is a huge computer network that connects with other smaller networks and uses communication standards (think HTTP, TCP/IP, UDP, et al.) to make the subsequent distribution of information possible. The Internet is decentralized and links more than 190 countries. In its short life--official birthdate: October 29, 1969--the Internet has surpassed 3 billion users. That’s 43,6% of the world population and close to the number of selfies on the average teenage girl’s iPhone.
On June 28, 2006, United States Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) infamously referred to the Internet as “a series of tubes.” After that, fellow senators would joke about whose turn it was to “clean out the Internet’s tubes” before leaving for the day. Whether the Internet is a series of tubes or quagmire of wires or enormous bowl of chocolate pudding, we can all agree it’s now an invaluable part of our daily lives. It lets us research the atomic weight of barium and buy a stainless steel blender at 3 AM in Incredible Hulk pajamas. Victory, humankind. Mic drop.
What’s the history of the Internet?Despite popular belief, former Vice President and lockbox aficionado Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet. While Mr. Gore can claim many cultural achievements, such as introducing the world to the term “hanging chad” (not what it sounds like) and becoming the first amateur meteorologist to win an Oscar for a film about graphs, the creation of the Internet is attributed to several people. Leonard Kleinrock is said to be the first to conceptualize it, while J.C.R. Licklider (not even kidding) was the first to propose a global network. But Sir Tim Berners-Lee, an English computer scientist, is credited with truly inventing the World Wide Web (now synonymous with the term the Internet), which is most commonly used to distribute cat videos and animated gifs to all corners of the world.
How to be Internet famous?
How to use the Internet to become famous is the question everyone’s asking. There’s no surefire formula for becoming a web luminary, or a cewebrity as truly awful people call them. However, you can learn a lot by reviewing the videos we’ve provided above. For instance, having a cat gets you approximately 85% of the way there, while a horse head mask alone carries only 1 in 10 odds.
But don’t lose hope. There are several scenarios that greatly improve your odds of achieving online stardom: Having a younger brother name Charlie who, inexplicably, likes to bite your finger. Recording yourself or your offspring as they recover from oral surgery. And of course, witnessing a double rainbow.
What does it all mean? It means you’re well on your way to becoming Internet famous! Of course, don’t forget the most fundamental step: Getting online. Perhaps there’s a tool, maybe even on this very page that could help you with such a thing…
Who controls how the Internet works?
Controlling the Internet wasn’t a big deal back in the day--line up those 1s and 0s and call it good. That was before the Internet had blossomed into the animated gifs factory we enjoy today. Yes, there was a time back before the World Wide Web when the Internet was all about packet networking. Yes, packet networking is as boring as it sounds.
Once the Internet flourished, various entities worked to protect it. Cue the Electronic Frontier Foundation, founded in 1990 and headquartered in San Francisco, of course. Despite a name that suggests the building of a missile defense system, the EFF’s stated goal was to shield the Internet from regulation. There was a time when Jon Postel, a computer scientist with a tremendous beard, was the judge and jury over Internet domain names. We have no idea what Mr. Postel, who died in 1998, would have thought of emoji domain names.
Control over the Internet changed in the 1990s when the Department of Defense assumed a more powerful role, paralleling hair metal's ascent in the music business. In 1991, Network Solutions, a Department of Defense subcontractor, was granted authority over Internet naming conventions. From 1997 to 2016, the Commerce Department has controlled the Internet’s DNS root server. DNS ensures you land on the right cat video website every time you type it into your browser’s address bar.
Most recently, the metaphoric keys to the Internet (there are no physical keys; the Internet isn’t a ’67 Pontiac GTO) have been turned over to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN, now a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California was originally created by the United States Department of Commerce in 1998 to manage the Internet. Now ICANN functions autonomously. ICANN was founded by--wait for it--Jon Postel. This transfer of control occurred in 2016.