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Hour 8. Posting Your Work on the Web > Internet Limitations and What They Mean ...

Internet Limitations and What They Mean to You

You’ve surfed the Web with your favorite browser—Internet Explorer, Netscape, or one of the lesser known programs, like iCab or Opera. You have email and probably even your own home page. But, do you know what’s really going on out there in cyberspace? First of all, although the Web is what you might call a virtual space, meaning that it creates the illusion of space and distance, it also exists in a physical space. It is made up of computers called servers that send files to programs that request them (such as your browser), across networks that stretch around the world. The server computers can be anything from supercharged SPARC stations to minis and mainframes—or a machine not unlike the one sitting on your desktop. These machines run software that can talk with your computer via what are known as protocols. A protocol is a set of rules that define the exchange of information—in this case, the downloading of Web pages, files on a server, email messages, and so on.

Thus, when you type a URL (uniform resource locator) into your browser to access a Web site, a message made up of electronic pieces of information called packets, goes out to these remote machines. These machines then send back the files for which you have asked. The files that make up all the sounds, pictures, and text of the Web then have to travel across phone lines or down a cable TV line or other connection.


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