The Internet

What Is It?

You may have heard about something called The Information Super-Highway, which is the media's buzzword for something that they think is new and cool. As usual, they have got it wrong - the Internet is over 30 years old.

The Internet is actually a collection of thousands of computers linked together by a common set of rules. These rules are called protocols. Protocols allow computers to communicate with one another - allowing one computer user to communicate with any of the other computers.

Who Runs The Internet?

No one runs the Internet and there is no Central Office.
There is no regulatory body making up rules with the power to enforce them.

There are, however, guidelines for Internet usage. Whilst these do not have the same power as rules, they exist to try and make communication, via the Internet, easier for everyone and it is advisable to follow them whenever possible.

How Big Is It?

It is very hard to pin down actual numbers to describe how large the Internet really is today.

Also the Internet is growing continually. The latest figures for the UK suggest that 35% of all UK households have Internet access whilst 51% of all adults in the UK have accessed the Internet at some time. (Source: Office of National Statistics, March 2001)

Why Would I Want To Be Part Of The Internet?

1. Access to Information.
The Internet is the largest computer network in the world. You can find information ranging from how to extract essential oils from herbs to how to service a Ford Sierra. You can read newspapers on-line: see the latest government press release; keep an eye on market trends; check out your competitors; source new suppliers.
2. International Communications
Over half of the world's nations participate in the Internet. You can communicate with colleagues or suppliers in America, Australia, or Europe. In addition to being able to send e-mail all over the globe, you can communicate with people through Usenet discussion forums (See the Usenet Factsheet).
3. Profit
The Internet can be a great place for business communications. The World Wide Web is an excellent way to promote your company (See the World Wide Web Factsheet) and e-mail is a great tool for communicating with business contacts (please see the the Email Factsheet).