What exactly is the Interweb?
September 11, 2004 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Lingofilter: What exactly is the Interweb? Is it meant to refer simultaneously to the World Wide Web and the Internet? Is it what people used to call cyberspace? Also, why didn't I get the memo?
posted by found missing to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
 
interweb - a slang term referring to the Internet. The derogatory form Intarweb is usually used with sarcasm or derision, chiding the "uneducated masses" who now frequent the Internet, threatening the once elite hacker culture that was prevalent in the early 1990s.
posted by reverendX at 8:49 AM on September 11, 2004


Danke. Ironically enough it's clear that I'm representative of the uneducated masses, since I don't know enough to check Wikipedia.
posted by found missing at 9:02 AM on September 11, 2004


It's specifically intended to make fun of those who think the Web is the Internet.
posted by kindall at 9:13 AM on September 11, 2004


wait - its not?
posted by ChasFile at 9:34 AM on September 11, 2004


nope. and it isn't world wide either...
posted by mr.marx at 10:28 AM on September 11, 2004


ChasFile: see this.

in case you were being serious.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:43 AM on September 11, 2004


You would be surprised how many people do think the Web is the Internet (worse, they will refer to other Internet-using applications as "websites"). Not to mention how many think AOL is the Internet. Or Internet Explorer is the Internet (removing Internet Explorer from the desktop will cause them to say "who took the Internet off this computer"). Sad, really.
posted by reklaw at 10:44 AM on September 11, 2004


"...but how come I need google if I already have Internet Explorer ... I don't think that I need google on this computer, but it's not an option to uninstall." -- my mom.
posted by TurkishGolds at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2004


The joke was always even funnier for me as my local ISP was actually called "Interweb." They went belly-up though.
posted by crazy finger at 11:35 AM on September 11, 2004


Sad, really.

Why? Those to whom the knowledge is important know the difference; those to whom it's not don't and don't care, and why should they? I'm aware there's a difference, and vaguely know the Web is only part of the internet, but I can't keep the details in my head and have no real interest in doing so. What practical difference does it make to me, or anyone else not professonally involved with it? If I started explaining to you the difference between German, Germanic, and Indo-Germanic, or between perfect and perfective, or gerund and gerundive, your eyes would glaze over and you'd remember it for a maximum of ten seconds. So? Does that make me better than you? No, it means we're interested in different things.
posted by languagehat at 1:07 PM on September 11, 2004


Well yes, but I wouldn't pretend to know about technical language stuff, and neither would most other people. With computers, people have a tendency to go on a silly little community college course or read a few 'For Dummies' books and think they have some kind of unchallengable wisdom. I've even heard people like network admins come out with complete and utter nonsense -- it's not limited to the AOL set at all.
posted by reklaw at 1:54 PM on September 11, 2004


Not knowing the difference between the Web and the Internet is less like being ignorant of language classification heirarchies, and more like taping over the electrical outlets when they're not in use to keep the electricity from leaking out.
posted by sfenders at 3:13 PM on September 11, 2004


in case you were being serious.

Son, I was compiling gopher queries while you were still suckling from yer mama's teet.
posted by ChasFile at 3:32 PM on September 11, 2004


Why sad? First, there's a bunch of cool things out there that aren't the web, and it's sad if people don't know about them.

Second, if, like me, you were brought up old-school, you can have jarring conversational gear-shifts with people who use the same words but mean different things. That's not sad for them, perhaps, but it is for me.

And finally, lots of in-groups have shibboleths by which they maintain identity, and we technical types are just as entitled to do this as anyone else.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:58 PM on September 11, 2004


So? Does that make me better than you? No, it means we're interested in different things.

That's a good point, but there is a difference: people who lack your interest in language aren't going around sprinkling "gerund" and "perfective" into their sentences as though they knew what those technical terms meant.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:28 PM on September 11, 2004


Mistaken ideas of the meaning of words form weak foundations of thought upon which people build. The more you build on such weak foundations, the more lost and confused you may become when your foundation crumbles. Ignorance is far easier to deal with.

A favorite cartoon of mine is the one where the person asks the computer guy "Can you put the internet on this diskette for me?"
posted by Goofyy at 11:35 PM on September 11, 2004


people who lack your interest in language aren't going around sprinkling "gerund" and "perfective" into their sentences as though they knew what those technical terms meant

Hahahahaha! I see linguistic ignorance displayed on MetaFilter every day, usually in the form of people blathering about people's "bad English." I happen to think it has worse consequences than people mistaking the web for the internet. But then, it's my own specialty, so I would think that, wouldn't I?

lots of in-groups have shibboleths by which they maintain identity, and we technical types are just as entitled to do this as anyone else.

This is indubitably true.
posted by languagehat at 5:08 AM on September 12, 2004


Interesting that this discussion involved languagehat. Context matters. In most contexts, "internet" is "web" and vice-versa. This is how, by far, most people understand these words. In some contexts, it's not. Those contexts would be where people care about the distinction and/or it is relevant.

I'm a pre-web Internet user (but just barely—though my commercial network usage goes back to the early eighties) and about ten years ago I was resenting the way that the www was subsuming the rest of the net. I maintained a popular list of "winsock" apps (context: windows tcp/ip networking apps before win even included a native tcp/ip stack) and very much thought in terms of non-http protocols. But it seemed like either the browser learned how to handle these other protocols, or the functionality was moved over onto an http layer. It's like the rest of the net slowly disappeared.

Which isn't true, of course. It's mostly all still there and people use it all the time. But the "consumer" Internet, so to speak, is essentially the web. This seems like a fight that was lost a long time ago and I don't worry about it anymore.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:18 AM on September 12, 2004


What practical difference does it make to me

Are you only willing to admit practical differences?

I see linguistic ignorance displayed on MetaFilter every day, usually in the form of people blathering about people's "bad English."

Your bias simply doesn't jibe with theirs. Prescriptive grammar has as defensible a pedigree as descriptive, and it isn't always based in "ignorance."
posted by rushmc at 6:33 AM on September 12, 2004


How much is an Internet?
posted by the cuban at 6:41 AM on September 12, 2004


Sorry, rushmc, but you're in the position of a creationist claiming that his pet nonsense has "as defensible a pedigree" as Darwinism. That may well be true, but it's still wrong.

EB: Thanks for the covering fire! I was feeling a little lonely in here.
posted by languagehat at 11:40 AM on September 13, 2004


I'm surprised to find you so closed-minded, language. Clearly one's perspective on language depends upon what one thinks it is and what one thinks it should be called upon to do.
posted by rushmc at 10:04 PM on September 17, 2004


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