One of the most impressive features of the last few years has been the growth of the Internet. This chapter looks at the growth and covers:
• The development of the Internet • Getting started • The Web • Gophers and gopherspace • Mail • Telnet, anonymous ftp, and other file transfer techniques • Talk and interaction • Referencing the Internet
The Internet is one of the most exciting and significant developments in computing of the recent past. Although it has been developed from communications systems that are quite old by computing standards, the revolutionary feature of the Internet is the speed with which it has opened up remote communication within a much larger user group than ever before without requiring much specialised expertise. There is a paradox here. Underlying the Internet is a very highly disciplined system of communication, but in human terms it is not unfair to describe the Internet as a loose anarchic network of users with no overall control or purpose. Indeed for some users this is its charm and value. The evolution of the Internet in the first half of the 1990s was very striking and it is still continuing at an impressive speed. Inevitably, extravagant claims have been made about the impact it is likely to have. It has even been argued that it will change human behaviour in a radical way, removing the discipline of space and creating the paradox of a spaceless geography.