An introduction to the Internet

The Internet is increasingly playing a vital role in all our lives, so it's all the more important to understand how it works and how you can get the best from it.

In a very summarised nutshell, the Internet began life in the 1960s as a way for the US Defence Department to share information between computers.

Fast forward 30 years and in 1989 Tim Berners-Lee proposed the World Wide Web, allowing “interlinked hypertext documents” (such as web pages) to be viewable, and consequently making well presented online information available to the public.

Now we use those hypertext documents for everything from banking to checking what's on TV tonight. Local councils are increasingly adding important information to their websites in a bid to reach residents in times of emergency (eg. water supply problems in Northern Ireland over Christmas 2010) and whether you're a Farmer applying for a license or a freelancer paying your tax return you're increasingly being asked to do such tasks online.

Despite – or rather along with – this increased use of websites, people are still nervous of the Internet – but there's no need to be. The articles in this section are designed to give you easy to read background information and useful advice for day to day activities on the web. I'd recommend, if possible, you read each page in this section if you really want to become more au fait with things – you might not think you need to know what browser you're using, but just a small increase in your background knowledge of web things can make tasks easier and just generally boost your confidence when navigating your way around the Internet.

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