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by JB Burke

Q. I see the terms Internet and Web used as if they are the same thing. Are they? And if not, what’s the difference?

A. The Internet and the web (World Wide Web) are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. The Internet is a huge network of networks, referred to as a networking infrastructure. It connects millions of computers, all over the world, allowing any computer that is connected to it to communicate with any other computer on the network. Email, ftp (file transfers), instant messaging, Usenet news groups, as well as the World Wide Web data all travel over the Internet.

The Web is one just way of accessing data over the Internet. It’s an information sharing model that rides on the Internet network, along with email, etc. The web uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) whereas email, for instance, uses SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). A protocol is rules determining how data is formatted and sent. Think of the Internet as a highway system on which travel the Web, as well as mail (email) and parcels (file transfers), etc. The web requires that you connect to the Internet using a Browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) to be able to view the Web Pages containing text, sounds, graphics and videos that are stored on servers attached to the web. It’s estimated that that approximately one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) web pages are now accessible through the Internet.

So while the Web is a big portion of the Internet, the two terms are not the same and shouldn’t be confused with one another.

Published: Courier 3/14/10 - Page 5C