Why should we know something about the Internet?

What is the Internet?


By U Khin Maung (A retired diplomat)


1. The Internet is the world’s larg­est computer network. It is not a piece of software or hardware. It is a huge collection of comput­ers, cables and peoples. When people talk about the Internet, they generally are not thinking of the physical computers, wires, routers, and other gadgets that compose the network, but of the collection of people, software, and tools that they see online.

Owing to the global coro­navirus pandemic on Covid-19 crisis, there are social distanc­ing or restrictions on social con­tacts we have such phrases as social distancing, and videocon-ference.


2. In tackling this question, I think, we should first define some phrases which are direct­ly or indirectly connected with the Internet. These phrases and their definitions are as follows: -

(A) Internet shopping/on­line shopping/cyberstore/ e-commerce

All these phrases are used to mention shopping and commercial businesses done through the Internet.


(B) Global literacy

Global literacy is the ability of the people (of a nation, or employees of a company) to access and converse with the rest of the world with Informa­tion Technology tools such as computers, the Internet and the mastery of English as the international lingua franca.


(C) Global economy

With the progress and advance in science and technology, par­ticularly Information Technol­ogy or IT, the world seems to become smaller so much so that we are calling it a “glob­al village”. Accordingly, the economies of all nations also become interactive and inter­dependent. Hence, the global economy or globalization of the economy.


(D) Digital divide

“Digital divide” simply means the divide between those who have the access to Internet resources and those who don’t. In other words, it is the divide between “information rich” and “information poor”.


(E) Crypto currency = cryp­to = secret, crypto commu­nist

(F) Digital currency is elec­tronic money that can be passed between individuals without the use of traditional money or banking transfer. Digital currency is also known as bitcoins.

3. Now, let’s deal with the ques­tion, “why should we know some­thing about the Internet? The obvious reasons, though not ex­haustive, are mentioned below: -

(1) “Today, the Internet is be­ing used by all sorts of organi­zations, newspapers, publish­ers, TV stations, people and organizations, newspapers, publishers, TV stations, ce­lebrities, teachers, librarians, and business people for a va­riety of purposes, from com­municating with one another to accessing valuable services and resources.


(2) The significance of the In­ternet’s growth and popularity may be compared to the pro­liferation of fax machines in the late 1980s. Then gradually we come to have a worldwide fax system. So also, the signif­icance of the Internet’s growth and popularity is gaining mo­mentum with each passing day, every single day.


(3) Stand-alone computers are useful, but their potential is limited by isolated applica­tions — word processors and spreadsheets, for example. But a direct (full-time) or di­al-up connection to the world­wide Internet gives you access to more info-goods, services and, people than you will ever find on your own isolated com­puter or local-area network.


(4) The Internet is already the largest computer network in the world, and in terms of con­nected networks, people and resources, it is getting larger, and therefore more “valuable” literally by the minute.


4. These are just some of the rea­sons why we should know some­thing about the Internet. In fact, if we are computer-illiterate and have no access to the Internet, we shall really be side-lined and become irrelevant in this knowl­edge-explosion age. And of all the possible developments in science and technology in the 21st centu­ry, the one with the potential to make the biggest impact on our lives is the Internet.



(1) Interactive = act­ing on one another, reciprocally active.

(2) Exhaustive = leaving nothing out, covering every possible detail

(3) Proliferate = in­crease rapidly in numbers, etc



(1) Internet companion, by Tracy Laquey

(2) Your Internet Consultant, by Kevin Savetz

(3) Channel News Asia, TV Programme