I know when the Internet is working, I know it's not working. But... what is it? We get this question a lot... or at least people tiptoe around this question. It's not a dumb question, don't worry. Many people don't really understand how it works.
We break it down for you on Tech Talk.
What is the Internet and where is it?
Learning from the radio
Here's an analogy we like to use. Tech Talk is on the radio... but how does the radio get to my radio station from where we are talking? While recording Tech Talk, we spoke into microphones. The microphone picks up the sound and makes an electrical signal that's processed and sent up through devices to an antenna, and sent out through airwaves. Back home or in someone's car, their antenna picks up the signal and processes it and then you hear the sound of the radio. It happens instantaneously.
That analogy is similar to the Internet. The Internet is a series of computers that are connected to each other. On those computers is the information we are looking for when we go to Facebook, Google, or searching for launching nuclear war. Whoa, nuclear war? We say that because the Internet started with the US Defense Department needing a way to securely share resources. There weren't a lot of computers in 1969 when it was created, and they needed to communicate securely with the computers scattered across the nation. They developed this system to connect computers together to share defense resources.
And now we spend our time playing Candy Crush and browsing Facebook... thanks Internet.
Virtual is physical
But more than that, there are BIG computers - data centers, that are physically connected by wires. If you do a Google search for the backbone of the Internet, you'll find pictures of giant cables across the ocean and everywhere. So back to our analogy of the radio, when you sit at your computer and shop on Amazon (or browse our website), your signal goes from your computer out to the phone/cable line, through a series of data centers. It gathers the info you requested and it comes back to your browser. How the Internet works is all of the addressing and delivery of these little bits of information physically across the cables.
And it happens as quickly as you blink. Next time you Google something, look for how long that search took Google to retrieve. According to Jeffrey Dean from Google, "A single Google query uses 1,000 computers in 0.2 seconds to retrieve an answer." Wow.
The Internet has come a long way. Let's not forget the days when you had to kick someone off the phone to use the Internet just to wait minutes for a website to load. It usually took so long, you gave up before someone said they needed the phone line again.
The Internet has evolved quickly and become a vital part of nearly everyone's lives.
What do you want to know?
Tune in on KSDM 104.1 FM, KGHS 1230 AM, KGHS 95.3 FM on Wednesday at 8:40 am for the next episode of Tech Talk.
Send your tech questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.