World-Information City


  Report: What is the Internet

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  Global Data Flows

Fiber-optic cables, coaxial cables, copper wires, electric power lines, microwaves, satellite communication, mobile telephony, computer networks: Various telecommunication networks following a variety of standards with bewildering abbreviations - DSL, WAP, GSM, UMTS, Ipv4 etc. - and carrying endless flows of capital and information are the blood veins of modern societies.

In the space of flows constituted by today's global data networks the space of places is transcended. Visualizations of these global data flows show arches bridging seas and continents, thereby linking the world's centres of research and development, economics and politics. In the global "Network Society" (Manuel Castells) the traditional centres of power and domination are not discarded, in the opposite, they are strengthened and reinforced by the use of information and communication technologies. Political, economical and symbolical power becomes increasingly linked to the use of modern information and communication technologies. The most sensitive and advanced centres of information and communication technologies are the stock markets. Excluded from the network constituted by modern information and communication technologies, large parts of Africa, Asia and South America, but also the poor of industrialized countries, are ranking increasingly marginal to the world economy.

Cities are centres of communications, trade and power. The higher the percentage of urban population, the more it is likely that the telecommunications infrastructure is generally good to excellent. This goes hand in hand with lower telecommunications costs. Those parts of the world with the poorest infrastructure are also the world's poorhouse. In Bangladesh for most parts of the population a personal computer is as expensive as a limousine in European one-month's salary in Europe, they have to pay eight annual salaries. Therefore telecommunications infrastructure is concentrated on the highly industrialized world: Most telephone mainlines, mobile telephones, computers, Internet accounts and Internet hosts (computers connected to the global data networks) can be found here. The same applies to media: the daily circulation of newspapers and the use of TV sets and radios. - Telecommunication and media services affordable to most parts of the population are mostly restricted to industrialized countries.

This situation will not change in the foreseeable future: Most expenditure for telecommunications infrastructure will be restricted to the richest countries in the world. In 1998, the world's richest countries consumed 75% of all cables and wires.

browse Report:
What is the Internet
    What is the Internet?
-3   Who owns the Internet and who is in charge?
-2   Internet, Intranets, Extranets, and Virtual Private Networks
-1   In Search of Reliable Internet Measurement Data
0   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,