The Internet (portmanteau of interconnected network) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.
The origins of the Internet date back to research commissioned by the federal government of the United States in the 1960s to build robust, fault-tolerant communication with computer networks. The primary precursor network, the ARPANET, initially served as a backbone for interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the 1980s. The funding of the National Science Foundation Network as a new backbone in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial extensions, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks.The linking of commercial networks and enterprises by the early 1990s marked the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet,and generated a sustained exponential growth as generations of institutional, personal, and mobile computers were connected to the network. Although the Internet was widely used by academia in the 1980s, commercialization incorporated its services and technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life.
Most traditional communication media, including telephony, radio, television, paper mail and newspapers are reshaped, redefined, or even bypassed by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as email, Internet telephony, Internet television, online music, digital newspapers, and video streaming websites. Newspaper, book, and other print publishing are adapting to website technology, or are reshaped into blogging, web feeds and online news aggregators. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of personal interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking. Online shopping has grown exponentially both for major retailers and small businesses and entrepreneurs, as it enables firms to extend their “brick and mortar” presence to serve a larger market or even sell goods and services entirely online. Business-to-business and financial services on the Internet affect supply chains across entire industries.
The advent of the Internet and widespread high-speed broadband access has transformed the experience of music, partly through the increased ease of access to recordings of music via streaming video and vastly increased choice of music for consumers. Chris Anderson, in his book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, suggests that while the traditional economic model of supply and demand describes scarcity, the Internet retail model is based on abundance. Digital storage costs are low, so a company can afford to make its whole recording inventory available online, giving customers as much choice as possible. It has thus become economically viable to offer music recordings that very few people are interested in. Consumers’ growing awareness of their increased choice results in a closer association between listening tastes and social identity, and the creation of thousands of niche markets.
Another effect of the Internet arose with online communities and social media websites like YouTube and Facebook, a social networking service. These sites make it easier for aspiring singers and amateur bands to distribute videos of their songs, connect with other musicians, and gain audience interest. Professional musicians also use YouTube as a free publisher of promotional material. YouTube users, for example, no longer only download and listen to MP3s, but also actively create their own. According to Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, in their book Wikinomics, there has been a shift from a traditional consumer role to what they call a “prosumer” role, a consumer who both creates content and consumes. Manifestations of this in music include the production of mashes, remixes, and music videos by fans.