Lesson 4.4: Life in a Connected Culture

On this page, you will learn more about the Internet and how it works.

Definition of Internet:  global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.



So, what exactly is the Internet?

If your friend's younger sister asked you to describe the Internet, how would you explain it to her? Before we go any further in this course, let's take a few minutes to look at this online world we're immersed in.

  • First, on your own or with a group of friends, create a visual representation of what you think the Internet is and how it works. You could try using a new digital creation tool such as easel.ly or you could grab a napkin and a pen. Just try to lay it out visually.
  • Then, watch the two videos below to compare your design to what is presented in the clips.

What's your IP Address?

Part of understanding your digital footprint is knowing what information you share when you visit websites, send emails or use social media.

Howstuffworks has created a video and info page on IP addresses. Check it out to learn more and to discover what yours is.

VIDEO # 1: There and Back Again

The World Science Festival created this short video explainer on how the Internet works.

VIDEO #2: Andrew Blum

When a squirrel chewed through a cable and knocked him offline, journalist Andrew Blum started wondering what the Internet was really made of. So he set out to go see it -- the underwater cables, secret switches, and other physical bits that make up the net.

Your turn

  1. After you have watched Andrew Blum's video, go to the Ted Talk website to read over the comments. Don't be shy - jump in with your own perspective. You have much to offer, so add your thoughtful comments to the discussion and see who responds.
  2. When people use the terms "Server" and "IP Address" and "URL", are you a little bit vague about what they mean? Take this chance to quickly look up the definitions in www.merriam-webster.com, www.techterms.com, or another resource that you like to use.
  3. Visit A timeline of the history of the World Wide Web. It is a project whose goal is to bring together some of the most important milestones in the history of the web. If you like the look of the timeline, you can make your own at TimelineJS.