Web vs Internet

by Andrew Sullivan

The Web needs the internet to work, but the internet needs the Web to be useful.
While the Web is probably the largest service on the internet that most people use, it’s not all of the internet. The two overlap and interconnect; the Web would not exist without the internet, but, similarly, the internet would not have grown into the amazing and powerful tool it is without the Web.
  • Everything that makes up the Web runs over the internet, but there is a lot more to the internet than the Web.
  • The internet provides the foundation for all kinds of applications, like email, chat and video conferencing — and also the Web.
  • Email messages are sent and received using the internet, but not the Web.
    • Note: A Web interface might be used to read or write the email, but the actual sending and receiving takes place using non-Web protocols.
  • Messaging someone on WhatsApp, iMessage or Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, Viber and most other messaging systems uses the internet but not the Web.
    • Note: The messaging systems may have a Web interface where users can read and compose messages, but they also have non-Web clients (i.e., apps) and when they are sending/receiving messages, they are doing so using non-Web protocols.
  • Every video call made over Skype, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp uses the internet but not the Web.
  • Playing online games using apps installed on the computer uses the internet, and probably not the Web.
  • Apps on a mobile phone use the internet — and may or may not be using the Web.
    • Note: Some apps on a mobile phone are written natively for Android or iOS and use protocols that are not for the Web, but, in many other cases, what we see as “apps” are, basically, small, separate Web browsers that then pull up a website inside of the “app” — so it is a website, traveling over the internet, that is then viewed inside an “app” on the mobile phone.
  • Storing files on Dropbox, Box.com, Microsoft OneDrive, etc., uses the internet. This might also be using the Web if a Web interface is used to upload files, but using the native integration into Windows or Mac OS X is not using the Web.
  • Many group calendaring tools use non-Web protocols — again, it’s an instance of using the internet but not necessarily the Web.

The Web relies on the internet to get content to people, and the internet relies on the Web for the content people want; it’s the open architecture of the internet that makes the wonders of the Web possible,” explains Andrew Sullivan, president and CEO of Internet Society.

Andrew Sullivan is president and CEO of Internet Society.

[Note of interest: The World Wide Web celebrated its 30th anniversary last month, on March 12.]

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