Internet - Definition
A great majority of people are now aware of the existence of Internet But, many of them have perhaps a some what misguided view of what the Internet really is. In this connection, it may be mentioned that a concise and complete description of the Internet may be had from one of the papers published by Library Association. Superhighway, London (1995) p.547, the Internet consists of a large number of linked computer networks forming a global network. This is largely open and free, allowing users to communicate with each other for work and recreational purposes, and for corporate and personal reasons. Because the Internet is so vast and is without regulation or hierarchy, the network is a treasure-trove of information from many sources. Resources are available in all subjects; mailing is possible for all the participants; documents can be forwarded and delivered across the world and directories and journals abound. Developments such as The World Wide Web (WWW) combine friendliness of user interface with enormously powerful information retrieval capability. Electronic mail is one of the most important services offered through the Internet, with each person having a personal mail address, enabling them to link up to another user anywhere in the world and communicate within seconds' (p. 547). In other words, it is easier to view the Internet in two related but distinct parts: they are the communications network, which is the immence web of interconnected local and wide area networks, telephone lines, cables, fibre-optics and satellite links which provide the medium for the transfer of information around >i e Internet, and the computers and computing sites which actually hold and process the data which is available to be transmitted across the network. It may be mentioned that whilist the communications network part of things are well integrated and for the most part operates transparently to the user, the same cannot be said about the data end of the business.
It may further be stated that the communications network is basically a physical network of connections, which provide the means of passing signals from one place to another. The adoption of a common set of protocols, or standard "ways of talking' makes it easy to use. In other words, these protocols enable data to be passed coherently and easily from one place on the network to another TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) is at the heart of Internet Communications. The TCP/IP must be thought of as a common language and rules for the behaviour in the communications environment which all parts of the Internet share and understand. All the computer systems connected to the Internet must be in a position to communicate in TCP/IP language or have some arrangement to interpret and translate TCP/IP instructions. The end users need not know anything about how TCP/IP works. Users can communicate or talk through their local operating systems such as Windows, DOS, UNIX, etc., and programmes will take care of translating user's requirements into a form which complies with the protocol. However, the users must remember that the TCP/IP common language is concerned with one thing only, that is communication. All it does is to make it easy for one machine to contact another to be able to pass data from one place to another. It has nothing to do with controlling, specifying or standardising the content of the data which may be transmitted. Therefore, as an answer to the question, 'what is Internet?' We may state that Internet is a collection of interlinked computer networks, or a network of networks. Currently, Internet connects over one million different computers and the rate of increase in use and new subscribers is growing everyday. The Internet provides global connectivity via a mesh of networks based on the TCP/IP and Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocols. Historically, the Internet was essentially an academic network, but business use is growing, so that the Internet is no longer merely an elite network for communication between eminent research centres, but is also accessible to colleges, businesses and libraries throughout the world. In other words, the Internet offers a gateway to a myriad of online databases, library catalogues and collections, and software and document archives in addition to e-mail.
Technically speaking "the Internet is a massive, searchable, dynamic, widely available, distributed multi-platform information system which possesses a number of general capabilities". In looking at the Internet objectively, most librarians feel that it has opened up wide vistas of sources (including graphic sound and text materials) on a global basis that previously were unavailable to the average library or individual searcher. Of course, it assumes that the searcher has the proper equipment, software and Internet connection before anything happens, and even then, retrieving materials might be slow, or impossible to achieve in certain cases because there is so much traffic on the system. In other cases the searcher may quickly discover great quantities of materials of interest or perhaps a single item that is very valuable to retrieve. Therefore, the Internet can be a very useful system for enlarging sources of data of a library. But this situation may not automatically solve their problems nor satisfy every client's needs.