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AFRIK-IT  April 1998

AFRIK-IT April 1998

Subject:

Re: Defining the Internet

From:

"Anthony J. Brooks" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Wed, 8 Apr 1998 02:08:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (181 lines)

Jeff,

I didn't mean to be long winded, but, please see my responses that
are embedded in your previously sent message.
--
tony brooks
----------------------------
At 07:31 PM 4/9/98 -5, you wrote:
>Greetings Afrik-ITers!
>
>It may seem esoteric to some, but I never cease to be amazed at the
>power words can hold over us.  One phrase I hear frequently on
>travels through Africa and through America is, "I want to get
>Internet."  I do believe they intend a capital "I".  Often the same
>person will say, "Will you help me get Internet, or are you only
>going to help me get email?"
>
>When people say this, what do they mean?  Do they really need what
>they want?  If they knew more about what they purport to want, would
>they still need it?

I have visited Southern Africa (Zambia, Zim, and South Africa) and have
been approached with the same questions "I want to get Internet ...",
"Will you help me get Internet, or are you only going to help me get email?"

What I have learned what "Internet" meant, to at least the folks I
encountered,
is access to the "on-line services of the Internet" such as WWW, ftp, and
telnet.  Email is typically distinguished separately because that's the way
African ISPs (Internet Service Providers) sell data communications services
over the Internet.  It's not like here whereas you get a complete Internet
service package including email, telnet, WWW, newsgroups, IRC, and unlimited
access for a nominal monthly charge.

True, the Internet is a virtual super-infrastructure of smaller interconnected
data communications networks and that's how we (Americans) typically think
of the Internet (or simply put the Net).  However, much to my surprise,
Africans think of the "Internet" as a classification of data communications
service (verus a supernetwork) as defined by their ISPs.

Is this right or wrong thinking about the Net like this?  I don't know.
However, this goes to show us that economics drove the definition of the
"Internet" word to mean different things - i.e. "Internet" is a per minute
charge on-line service that allows world-wide communications using a computer
verus "Internet" being a global virtual data communications network that
comprises many smaller networks that are interconnected using TCP/IP
communications protocols.

>
>Here's a new (to me) definition of the Internet:
>
>"The Internet, with a capital "I," is the world's largest internet,
>which is defined as any set of networks interconnected with a router
>-- a hardware device that acts as a gateway between networks."
>
>My impression is that the definition applies to "internet".  Then the
>Internet is one example of an internet.
>
>The definition comes from an article by Clay Hathorn about why the
>Web and the Internet are not the same thing.  Currently available at
>http://home.microsoft.com/reading/feature2.asp
>

I read this paper and I disagree with some of the technical descriptions that
Mr. Hathorn gives in his paper about the Internet and the Web.  For instance,
referring to the quote you took from his paper:

"The Internet, with a capital "I," is the world's largest internet, which is
defined as any set of networks interconnected with a router -- a hardware
device that acts as a gateway between networks."

Routers are not gateways.  People commonly call them "gateways", but, a
gateway is an application that processes at layer 7 of the OSI reference
model and a router is software running on hardware that routes packets
through a data comm net using the Internet Protocol and operates at layer 3
of the OSI model.

The reason why I point this out is to say that although, we in the data comm
field, refer to routers as "gateways" everyday, technically we are incorrect
(by the book that is).  But we know what we mean.  I come back to use of the
word "Internet" and its meaning.  We have our definition and they have theirs
and the contextual meaning is relative to the place and conversation.

I didn't get a chance to read the other articles you referred to, but,
I'm sure I can find other similar "mis" usage of terms in them as well.
That is, "misused" because they are not being used as defined as the standard
organizations defined them.  But that's alright, that's the way we all used
the language in our field everyday - I think that's what we mean when we say
"jargon" or "buzz words".  :)

>Another is this:
>
>"The Internet is a global networks' system that consist of the
>millions of local area networks (LANs) and computers (hosts)."
>
>This definition is by Gregory R. Gromov who writes a history of the
>Internet.  The history is currently available at
>http://www.internetvalley.com/intval.html
>
>Then there's this:
>
>"1982 -- TCP/IP defines future communication DCA and ARPA establishes
>the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP),
>as the protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, for ARPANET. Why is
>this relevant? Leads to one of the first definitions of an internet
>as a connected set of networks, specifically those using TCP/IP, and
>Internet as connected TCP/IP internets."
>
>This one is I think by Dave Marsh in his History of the
>Internet, a copy of which is available at
>http://www.internetvalley.com ...
>  /archives/mirrors/davemarsh-timeline-1.htm
>
>And this one:
>
>"The name "Internet" refers to the global seamless interconnection
>of networks made possible by the protocols devised in the 1970s
>through DARPA-sponsored research -- the Internet protocols, still in
>use today."
>
>That one's by Vinton Cerf in an article available at
>http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/lazowska/cra/networks.html
>
>The commonality I see is in the focus on the interconnection of
>networks through a commonly agreed communications protocol.  I don't
>see any mention of the nature of the individual constituent networks
>themselves.  Presumably these constituents of the Internet can
>communicate within their own membership via any protocol they choose,
>so long as their data depart from their network for the other
>networks of the Internet using the agreed common protocol.
>
>Who then is a "member" of the Internet, or is "on" the Internet?

Here is a good example of us "misusing" the language to convey a technical
concept.  Of course we are talking figuratively and we all (at least
I think) know what you mean.  But who is on the Internet and who is
a "member" of the net?  Technically speaking, anyone who is communicating
(transmitting or receiving) data using a device that has an Internet
Protocol address is on the Internet.  That is, all devices communicating
over the Net has a unique IP address.  If you do not have one, you can not
be a "member" on the Net and use its services.

>
>And what does it mean then to say "I want to get Internet"?  How
>should we as people who hope to facilitate broader access to the
>Internet interpret this request?

Please see my first repose for what I found what the meaning of these
questions are.

As for your second question, we should provide education, however, we should
keep an open mind.  We can all learn something by seeing different peoples'
views.  I've been working in this field for over 12 years and even wrote some
of the code that implements Internet applications, and I learned something
in regards to how others in the world view the Internet.

>
>BTW, if you browse through some of the references above, you may be
>as shocked as me to learn that Al Gore reportedly coined the phrase
>"information superhighway" in 1981.  Yes, 1981.


>
>Cheers!
>Jeff @ Washington
>--
>[log in to unmask]
>http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk
>1111 North 19th Street Suite 210
>Arlington, VA 22209 USA
>Tel 1-703-235-5415  Fax 1-703-235-3805
>
------------------------------------------------
Anthony (Tony) Brooks
Software & Data Communications Specialist
================================================
NuTek 2000, Inc.    Voice: 703/861-8325
PO Box 554          Fax:   703/406-3021
Herndon, VA 20172   mailto:[log in to unmask]
================================================

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