6 Quasi-Fascinating Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Internet

Posted by Shmoop on 5/15/19 11:50 AM

As the school year winds down, everyone's starting to get antsy for summer. Which means it's harder than ever to focus—and easier than ever to fall down the internet rabbit hole. (Or an actual rabbit hole, if you're not watching your step.) And while we're sure you can find the perfect gif for any occasion without blinking an eye, do you know how the internet, um...works?


1. It's physical.

The internet might seem intangible, but it still relies on a physical system. It's an entire web of connected wires and cables. Try not to trip over 'em.

2. It has a very small vocabulary.

binary shmoop

Computers may seem really smart, but they only work with 1s and 0s. Really. All that high-speed calculation and rapid information processing comes down to the manipulation of two numbers. Which is why they're so boring at parties. 

3. It takes up space.

Just because you can store something in the cloud doesn't mean that it doesn't take up space somewhere. When you send an email, upload a file, or Skype your friends across the ocean, that data has to exist in a physical place. And…it does. Through a server. So yeah...don't forget to tip your server. 

4. It knows where you live.

Every computer on the internet connects from a unique IP address. It's just like a regular address, except that the actual numbers for individual IP addresses can change every session. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) holds onto a bank of addresses and sends your computer a new one any time you log in. Yeah, that's right. Your computer gets more mail than you do. 

5. The Cold War is its mom.

When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, President Eisenhower saw that little antennae-decorated space ball shoot into the sky, and rounded up a group of the nation's brightest scientists to address the concern. Yada yada yada...the internet was born.

U.S. History 1877-Present: The Cold War Revisited


6. All those acronyms mean something.

That http at the beginning of a URL? It stands for hypertext transfer protocol. Sounds like something they'd make up on Star Trek. Speaking of URL, that acronym stands for uniform resource locator, the character-based address of a particular file on the internet. And, of course, there's www: the world wide web. Get friendly with more acronyms rn; check our internet glossary.

Okay, now get back to those gifs.

Shmoop Quote

"Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I'm afraid."

~ 2001: A Space Odyssey

Maybe we should learn more about how computers work before life starts imitating art.
To see more famous quotes, check out our Quotes page.

Topics: Updates

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