Robert Scoble thinks so:

I believe the Web became such a success because it was a single app that did so much. I was a BBS, then Prodigy, then AOL, then CompuServe, then came to the Web in 1995, so pretty early on (certainly not first, but certainly before 99.9% of people got on).


He's wrong. The Internet is a service. Applications are built on top of the infrastructure provided by the Internet. The Internet helps to deliver the World Wide Web, E-Mail, Newsgroups, Instant Messaging, and so much more.

AOL isn't an app either. It's a service. AOL is a service provider--at least in this context. AOL is also a big evil media company, but that's a side issue.

I know he knows better, but this bugs me in the same way that people who say "My Internet is down!" do. They really mean "My Internet connection is down!" but don't know it.

Posted by jzawodn at July 14, 2003 10:13 PM

Reader Comments
# sergio said:

Internet is not Web. Web can ben called an application. Internet is the infrastructure that provides services to applications like web, e-mail, etc... You can call the web an application if you call e-mail an application.

So I don't see why he is wrong.

What he refers to AOL in this context is the interface, the protocols, etc... that allow him to view pages that are specifically designed for AOL. The web thing in AOL, but not the HTML and HTTP of course. That is what he calls AOL, not the infrastructure that allows bits to move around.

People don't say everything in detail. Internet is down is a shorthand version of my internet connection is down, and I don't think people necessarily down't know about it. I happen to say connection is down all the time, but I find "Internet is down" cooler to say. It sounds like something big is down and it makes the conversation interesting. If you say my connection is down, who cares, but if you say internet is down, you are referring to all the networks in internet and that's more exciting than my connection. Of course everybody knows that you are referring to your stupid connection. Also what's nice about the language is that, the rules are laid by people who use it, not by people who think what's right or what's wrong. Think about all those idioms, proverbs that don't make any sense, yet they mean something to people.

on July 14, 2003 11:32 PM
# wee said:

This is nearly as bad as Time Warner calling their Road Runner cable modem service "High Speed Online". That's like fingernails on the blackboard of my soul, I swear to friggin' god it is. They're missing a noun at the end: "Online /what/?!?" I want to scream whenever their commercials come on TV, or I happen by one of their web pages. I tells ya, I just can't stand hearing it.

Face facts, though: most people double click an icon on their desktop which is labeled "Internet". To them, IE *is* "their internet" [sic]. When IE crashes, so does the Internet. Or "the web" -- the two terms are interchangeable for most people. I bet there have been more than a couple people who caught little Johnny surfing pr0n and tried to "uninstall the internet". I'd put money on it.

You old timers remember when that "Internet Cleaning Day" first starting showing up on Usenet being emailed around every April 1st? People used to unplug their computers, you know.

on July 15, 2003 12:20 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Well, I believe in "Web Applications". I wouldn't go so far as to say the entirety of the web (and certainly not the Internet) is an application though. It would certainly make things easier if it were:,"Jeremy");


on July 15, 2003 05:44 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Having just read the original article, I don't think he's talking about the web as an application. I think when he says "web" he means the concept of using a web browser instead of AOL or Compuserve.

If you read the article in that light it makes perfect sense, and I agree completely.

on July 15, 2003 06:50 AM
# Will said:

Back in the day when I was training staff on how to use Microsoft Windows 95, I had a number of students who were unable to make the distinction between the various components. To them, it was all Microsoft.

on July 15, 2003 12:12 PM
# Ryan said:

Amen to that... the internet is just the foundation to provide services and applications on top of.

on July 15, 2003 01:26 PM
# Ryan said:

I should probably amend that... the internet is different than the Internet. Most consumers see the Internet as an application while the internet is just the framework. This is probably the paradox of the English language that confuses the general population of those who just "want things to work".

Since I do the sysadmin gig at the University of Missouri I see this a lot in my day-to-day. Docters and professors just don't care, they just want "it" to work and they see the whole as an application.

on July 15, 2003 01:34 PM
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