The Internet is so useful and convenient when travelling, and so pervasive, that it really is essential for the 21st Century traveller. But do you really know what the internet is, and how it relates to the World Wide Web?
The Internet is a digital data network used for sharing information.
It’s a network that connects many different devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, and allows information to be shared between them. That Information is in the form of digital data (raw information), which can be encoded to carry all sorts of useable information, but you will mostly know that information as emails and web pages.
Information that is kept on any of the devices connected to the internet could potentially be accessed by any of the other devices connected to the internet, including your own devices. However, in practice, most of the information is kept on larger computers that are called network servers, and is accessed by smaller computers and other devices, like the ones that you use, which are technically known as network clients.
The communication channels that are used to move the information through the network can take many forms: they may be electrical connections, they may be fibre optics, or they may be different sorts of radio waves.
So the internet, in its simplest definition, is the hardware (and the software that operates that hardware) that makes it possible to share information between computers and other devices, which may be situated anywhere in the world.
It’s a common misconception that the World Wide Web is the same thing as the internet; but it isn't.
The World Wide Web is an application that runs on the hardware on the internet, just as applications run on the hardware of your computer or smartphone. The World Wide Web is just one way of sharing information using the internet; but there are many other ways (one of the other ways is email.)
The World Wide Web comprises documents called web pages, which are kept on devices that are connected to the internet all over the world. The World Wide Web is the application that administers the names and locations of all of these web pages. The name of a web page is its web address (officially known as a Uniform Resource Locator – URL). A web address looks like this: http://www.abc.net.au, which I'm sure you’re familiar with.
Actually, because computers are better at dealing with numbers rather than names, part of the World Wide Web converts the name of each web page to an exclusive number, which is used to locate the page. The part of the World Wide Web that does this is called a Domain Name Server (DNS), and the number is called the Internet Protocol Address (IP address); but don’t worry, you don't need to know that.
The world wide web application also uses these addresses to administer links (the coloured text in a web page that you click on to go to another web page) between the web pages; it's these links that turn the individual web pages into a web, the World Wide Web.