Chapter 1: Internet basics

A server farm, where billions and billions of bytes of information are stored for access through the Web.

The Internet started more than 40 years ago as a project of the Department of Defense, but the World Wide Web as we know it is not yet 20 years old, going back to the first popular Web browser, Mosaic, released in 1993. The changes to the Web in just the past 10 years have revolutionized communication and especially the world of journalism.

Of all the amazing things about the Internet, one stands out: No central authority is responsible for the system, and no central authority controls the system.

This chapter will provide some basic facts about the Internet and how it works. An understanding of the Internet’s inner workings will help you to see why we follow certain practices as we build our first websites.

Learning objectives

The student who completes this chapter should be able to:

  1. discuss the Internet as a physical structure and as a mental construct.
  2. identify key features of the Internet.
  3. describe how the Internet is different from other networks.
  4. explain the basics of how data is transmitted on the Internet.
  5. identify key software and and hardware components of the Internet.
  6. explain how a Uniform Resource Locator works.
  7. define hypertext and explain how it is different from linear text.
  8. outline the process for developing a website as a collaborative effort.
  9. analyze the pitfalls of developing a website, such as scope creep.