Question: What’s the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web? Michael Battig <[email protected]> writes from Glenn’s home town of Eugene, Oregon, with that surprisingly common question.
Answer: The Internet is a set of networks that exchange data with each other using a standard set of protocols – languages that each machine can speak. In previous issues of NetBITS, we’ve addressed how the protocols talk to each other, with high-level protocols (like the languages spoken by mail servers and Web servers) broken down into pieces and delivered by lower-level protocols over physical media, like copper wire and fiber optic cable.
The Internet is both the physical set of machines that are interconnected (inter-network is the source of the term Internet) and – in the form of the Internet networking model – the protocols that drive traffic around it.
All Web servers talk to Web browsers using HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). HTTP defines how a Web server and browser interact; we discuss this in some depth in Jeff Carlson’s cookies article in NetBITS-006. HTTP is just one of several high-level protocols that applications use to talk to each other, like SMTP, the language that mail servers use to exchange email. [GF]