It’s hard to imagine the world as we know it without including the internet. Commerce, communication, and even socialization have been irrevocably changed since the internet came to prominence. At the same time, for most people, the internet is just something that’s there for most people. We take it for granted, particularly those of us who grew up with the internet. Few people understand how the internet actually works – how we can access that information from home or a mobile device.
The internet depends upon both protocols and physical servers. A server is essentially a computer that houses the files available on the internet. For instance, a website is made up of files that include the images, art, text, etc… All of those files are housed on a computer called a server that is connected to a network of other computers: the internet.
When you open a browser like internet explorer, firefox, or chrome and type in a web address, the browser looks for the files associated with the address. A web address includes the domain name, plus any folders and files. For example: www.domain.com/folder_name/specific_page_file
Each domain has some records associated with it. The first of those records is the WHOIS record. That record includes contact information on the owner of the domain. The next record is the name server or NS record. The NS record tells your browser which server to find certain other records on. Those records are the A and MX records, and they are contained within a file called a DNS zone file. The A records tell your browser where to find the actual site files. The MX record describes where any associated email accounts are housed. So, to sum up:
- You type in a web address.
- Your browser looks for the domain and finds the associated NS record.
- The NS record directs your browser to a file that has directions to the site files.
- Those directions, the A records, take you to the actual site files, where they are housed on a server.
- Your browser then displays the site to you.
All of that takes seconds or less. Isn’t that amazing?
You have probably heard the phrase “Web 2.0″ thrown around a lot. Its used frequently by the tech-savvy to describe a trend in technology that has grown ever more prominent since the rise of the internet – particularly in the last five years or so.
Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:
A term associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them.
Web 1.0, therefore, represents a time when websites were generally used to throw information out there, to be retrieved by anyone who wanted it. Today, users and creators are one and the same. It no longer takes a tech or an IT department to create a website, build a blog, or publish a video. As users became creators, the line between the two has blurred such that most current websites are interactive. Sites have surveys, forms, games, etc. that allow users to both receive and send information, interacting with a dynamic webpage. At the very least, a good many of the companies with a grounded web presence offer links to social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn in an effort to engage users. Engaged users are not only more likely to keep coming back, but they can help you to continually adapt the site to bring in more users.
This give and take of information and ideas is key in the world of online business, building a web presence, and even politics. Social media and Web 2.0 have molded our world in ways subtle and obvious. It was not terribly long ago that Twitter helped civilians coordinate a revolution in Egypt, after all, and though some claim Web 2.0 is a fad, this seems to me to be more of an evolution.
Today I stumbled across an interesting
article about iPads, which I rather agreed with. These are fun little toys,
and work great for casual surfing on the go. You can even check your email, if
you use a compatible account.
There are downsides aplenty, of course. The most discussed
short-fallings are things like lack of Flash support, or sheer adaptability.
Flash is necessary to many web applications like video. iPads come with iOS and
are strictly regulated, as far as things like compatibility with third-party
applications, programs, and software. To make an iPad (or even iPhone) do many
of the things Android tablets do, users must “jailbreak”
Leaving all the software short-comings aside, the obvious failing
of an iPad — or any tablet, for that matter — is the lack of physical
Like many users, I have been impressed with the predictive text
software on an iPad. This makes it significantly easier to use. However,
sometimes an otherwise innocuous typo, caused by the smoothness of the screen
and less-than-Olympic level accuracy, is auto-corrected into something
completely ridiculous. Oft-times, it is also difficult to navigate on a tablet
due to some combination of the webpage or app you are looking at and the way
the gestures are intended to work.
Although I am easily classified into the “digital
generation” and grew up with technology, I also have to put myself in the
“old-fashioned” camp that longs for a tactile keyboard for anything
other than “casual” surfing.