Report: What is the Internet

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  Who owns the Internet and who is in charge?

The Internet/Matrix still depends heavily on public infrastructure and there is no dedicated owner of the whole Internet/Matrix, but the networks it consists of are run and owned by corporations and institutions. Access to the Internet is usually provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for a monthly fee. Each network is owned by someone and has a network operation center from where it is centrally controlled, but the Internet/Matrix is not owned by any single authority and has no network operation center of its own. No legal authority determines how and where networks can be connected together, this is something the managers of networks have to agree about. So there is no way to ever gain ultimate control of the Matrix/Internet.
The in some respects decentralized Matrix/Internet architecture and administration do not imply that there are no authorities for oversight and common standards for sustaining basic operations, for administration: There are authorities for IP number and domain name registrations, e.g.
Ever since the organizational structures for Internet administration have changed according to the needs to be addressed. Up to now, administration of the Internet is a collaborative undertaking of several loose cooperative bodies with no strict hierarchy of authority. These bodies make decisions on common guidelines, as communication protocols, e.g., cooperatively, so that compatibility of software is guaranteed. But they have no binding legal authority, nor can they enforce the standards they have agreed upon, nor are they wholly representative for the community of Internet users. The Internet has no official governing body or organization; most parts are still administered by volunteers.
Amazingly, there seems to be an unspoken and uncodified consent of what is allowed and what is forbidden on the Internet that is widely accepted. Codifications, as the so-called Netiquette, are due to individual efforts and mostly just expressively stating the prevailing consent. Violations of accepted standards are fiercely rejected, as reactions to misbehavior in mailing lists and newsgroups prove daily.
Sometimes violations not already subject to law become part of governmental regulations, as it was the case with spamming, the unsolicited sending of advertising mail messages. But engineers proved to be quicker and developed software against spamming. So, in some respects, the Internet is self-regulating, indeed.
For a detailed report on Internet governance, click here.

browse Report:
What is the Internet
    What is the Internet?
-3   Acessing the Internet
-2   Internet services
-1   Operating the net: overview
0   Who owns the Internet and who is in charge?
+1   Internet, Intranets, Extranets, and Virtual Private Networks
+2   In Search of Reliable Internet Measurement Data
+3   Global Data Flows
World Wide Web (WWW)
Probably the most significant Internet service, the World Wide Web is not the essence of the Internet, but a subset of it. It is constituted by documents that are linked together in a way you can switch from one document to another by simply clicking on the link connecting these documents. This is made possible by the Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML), the authoring language used in creating World Wide Web-based documents. These so-called hypertexts can combine text documents, graphics, videos, sounds, and Java applets, so making multimedia content possible.

Especially on the World Wide Web, documents are often retrieved by entering keywords into so-called search engines, sets of programs that fetch documents from as many servers as possible and index the stored information. (For regularly updated lists of the 100 most popular words that people are entering into search engines, click here). No search engine can retrieve all information on the whole World Wide Web; every search engine covers just a small part of it.

Among other things that is the reason why the World Wide Web is not simply a very huge database, as is sometimes said, because it lacks consistency. There is virtually almost infinite storage capacity on the Internet, that is true, a capacity, which might become an almost everlasting too, a prospect, which is sometimes consoling, but threatening too.

According to the Internet domain survey of the Internet Software Consortium the number of Internet host computers is growing rapidly. In October 1969 the first two computers were connected; this number grows to 376.000 in January 1991 and 72,398.092 in January 2000.

World Wide Web History Project,