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The Internet 101 For Wannabe Affiliate Marketers

Jul 26, 2008
The internet is huge. Telling you everything about how the internet works would take an entire book, if not more than one. Since there is no one centralized authority that is responsible for managing the World Wide Web, in a sense inexplicable. However, the basic workings of the World Wide Web can be simple to explain. Anyone who owns their website should have an idea of how their site fits into the broader picture of the internet.

An apt analogy would be that of a forest. Think of each computer on the internet is like a shrub or a redwood and don't forget that some sites are noxious weeds! No this analogy won't work so well, I will leave it there. Maybe this one will work better! Picture the Internet as a postal system. Each home which receives mail (or domain name) has an address (IP). People in these homes (programs) send and receive mail (packets) which contain information (images, email, etc.) which the residents then open. The internet works very much like this.

In the field of networking, these individual entities are known as nodes, each having a domain name and IP address. Paths connect these nodes together to form the internet which is the conglomeration of all of these pieces and the infrastructure which connects them; all of the nodes and all of the paths. Servers and clients (PC's, latops and the like) make up the parts of the internet which are most visible to those of us standing outside. These devices store and interpret the data which the internet conveys around the world. There are very important pieces of hardware and software which operate behind the scenes to make it all work together and be useful to us.

As I pointed earlier there is no centralized controlling authority over the internet, instead there is a sort of hierarchy which governs the internet. This is known as the domain system. Top level domains (sometimes called TLD) are the familiar website endings like .com, .org. .net and so on. These domains are kept track of by a fairly small number of systems which are controlled by a small number of non-profit organizations. Company networks and the like form the second level domains (for instance, Microsoft.com).

Going further down this hierarchy we have (www)Microsoft.com, which is a subdomain but is often termed (and thought of as) a host or domain of its own. A host is the name for one certain computer (usually a server). The host name might be, but is usually not preceded by a www. The domain is the name sans the www. At the bottom of this hierarchy are individual hosts (also servers) that actually store information and process requests for it.

These hosts, together with network components like routers and the like make up a network. All of these networks together are collectively known as the internet. There are some other elements which are less obvious but no less important. When you click on a link (also known as a URL or Uniform Resource Locator), your browser sends a request over the web for a connection and data. This request and the data which is returned are broken up into pieces called packets.

You may have noticed this at work before without realizing it. When a page loads slowly, almost as if it is being painted across your screen, this is due to the packets taking too long to arrive. When they take very long, a timeout occurs. These packets may be sent in any order and are reassembled once they reach your computer.

The reason that all of these packets find their way to their destination is because they are tied to an IP address which denoted the host (the computer which holds or "hosts" the data). Since those numbers are hard for humans to remember, domain names are associated with these IP numbers to make matters easier for us.
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