How do you internet? Well friend, you just did.
These words you are reading right now came from a sack of neurons stuffed into the body of a human that was sitting on a chair in a small corner of cambridgeshire, united kingdom, planet earth, sol system, milky way at roughly 14:30 GMT on 2016-11-26. From there some effort was made by the part of the human to encode his meaning semantically into written words in his native language british-english and then broken down into letters of the alphabet which he then pressed the corresponding letters on a device called a keyboard which converted his lumpy mechanical presses into electromagnetic dichotomous pulses which are represented mathematically in the form of binary bits (on/off – 1/0 yes/no etc). The keyboard was connected to another device called a computer which in turn converted those keyboard bits into (mostly) 1 byte (which is 8 bits) per letter stream of information we call ‘data’. A copy of this data temporarily lived inside the short term memory (RAM) of the computer inside a computer program before being passed through a ‘stack’ of other computer programs which neatly encapsulated (think envelopes inside envelopes) these words into a network ‘packet’ (think brown paper post packet) and then sent this new (and larger) data packet as a stream out from the computer through the computers ‘network interface device’ which again represents bits with electromagnetic quanta. From there an exact representation of the packet got directed (routed) onto the INTERNET by a device called a router/modem which first opened the packet , stripped away some envelopes and repackaged it with some different envelopes which address information on it so it can navigate the internet and get to the intended location. This packet (packets) was transmitted through the telephone line to a MASSIVE network of neutral (not quite), cooperative (barely) computers organized in a web shape with nodes connecting to multiple nodes each routing data packets from everyone else on the internet in a cacophony of electrical activity that to an observer 100 years ago would BLOW his mind but these days is completely taken for granted and mainly used for looking at other peoples cats.
This inconceivably tiny packet of information found its way through 20 routers, ~3600 miles away to another computer which was carefully (I hope) set up to receive this data and, through a series of complicated programs, hand shakes and processes re-represent and SERVE that data through a publicly accessible web-page, also through the same means. This webpage is stored on the same computer that received this packet and accessible to anyone on the internet with the correct address which is called a URL.
Many moments after this ‘electrical symphony’ took place and long after the originating human’s own chemical impulses had passed, another event took place. Coming from a completely different point on planet earth and from ANY internet connected human or computer program, a COPY of the original human’s words were reversed along this path and ultimately displayed on a different computing device and were then translated back into thought by another human process and made some chemical reactions happen.
The intricate physics involved the conversion of electromagnetic energy to abstract (mathmatical) forms of that same data passed through countless miles of conductive wires and semiconductive silicone and with many mutations of the data, abstractions, encapsulations, encodings, decodings, encryptions, decryptions, checksums, parity checking, error correcting, transmission, re-transmission, handshakes, authentications underpinned by mathematics and facilitated by quantum mechanics. Carefully and meticulously pieced together by humans with the help of machines into a fragile but redundant and robust system called which we collectively call the INTERNET.
sidenote: If the christian god exists then its insulting he never decided to include a little about this intricate and amazing system in the bible. A little tease of what we could create if left alone would be well received, no? It’s by far the most beautifully elaborate system we’ve ever built.. a web encompassing the entire planet, facilitating connection with 7 billion people simultaneously.
YOU ARE DEEPLY PRIVILEGED TO BE READING THIS. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS AN INTERNET CONNECTED HUMAN BEING TO REALLY GROK (AN INTERNET WORD, LOOK IT UP :p) THE INTERNET, UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS, UNDERSTAND NET NEUTRALITY AND CHERISH AND PROTECT THIS INCREDIBLE INFORMATION SYSTEM. WELCOME TO THE INTERNET- PLEASE USE ME RESPONSIBLY.
- I vow to encrypt my bits so as to not encourage other parties on the internet to copy or deviate this data from its intended destination
- I vow to compress my bits into as few bits as I can to minimize transmission time wasted and to require as little energy as possible, so others may internet too.
- I vow to maintain and update my own computer devices, care for them and be Shepard to their running software processes.
- I vow to never exceed my domain by exerting control over other peoples computer devices.
- I vow to share my digital data with the world in the spirit of the internet, to encourage copying and sharing with the hopes of attribution, praise and reward but the expectation of none.
- I vow to never exert control of my data after I have released it onto the internet willingly.
- I vow to use computation wherever possible to make humans’ lives easier.
- I vow to respect anonymity yet grok its profound effect on trolling and to not be a dick.
- I vow to use the internet and its shared resources for the benefit of fellow human beings.