Internet and Communication

The most popular use of the Internet is communication. There are various types of communication technologies used on the Internet. Electronic mail (e-mail) is the most popular way of communication on the Internet.

There were electronic message programs as early as at the beginning of the 1960s, but they worked only locally and messages could only be exchanged between users sharing the same machine. The first e-mail message was sent in 1971 by engineer Ray Tomlinson. He used an experimental transfer protocol (FTP), CYPNET, to transfer files among linked computers within APRANET, which was the precursor to the Internet. Tomlinson chose the @ symbol in order for messages addressed to mailboxes in the local machine to be distinguished from messages sent to remote mailboxes on the network.

While with most of the technologies that are unique to the Internet communication is done in text, there is also Internet telephony. Internet telephony is traditional telephone-like communication conducted via the Internet. There is computer-to-computer and computer-to-phone communication. To use the Internet for such communication a user needs to have a microphone, a sound card and speakers.

Chat rooms are communications channels that permit users to write to one another, "chat," on a particular topic, usually using a specific user name to be identified. There are also instant messaging services for communication with people specified and approved by the user. At the beginning of the 21st century many people use cellular or satellite services to connect to the Internet wirelessly. A number of web-enabled devices are used for wireless communication such as smartphones, tablets and others.

Internet communications rapidly became more varied and convenient for users as technology advanced into the 21st century. The types of Internet communication include social networking sites, where members are able to send messages, links, comments, pictures and articles to other members of the site. Communication is not limited to the sender and receiver, but other members who have access to the site of one user can also make comments. This type of relationship is called an "Internet community."

Blog and vlog are another type of Internet communication. Blogging is when a person expresses his or her thoughts, ideas, as well as social and political views, online. Readers of a blogger's writings can make comments and send their links to other readers. Some bloggers build a devout group of readers. A vlog is also for sharing thoughts and ideas online, using digitally recorded sound files. A user records a vlog on some kind of a digital device and then uploads it onto the computer to share with viewers.

Online forums and message boards provide users with the opportunity to express their knowledge or views of a particular subject. Topics for discussion range from sports teams, political agendas, through home improvement to medical experience and procedures. Customers of online retail stores are able to read reviews by other buyers before purchasing an item and also to rate purchased items. In addition, readers of online news articles can comment and communicate with other readers as well as with news reporters and editors through their comments.

These types of communication are not unique to networked computer environments, but due to much improved accessibility on the Internet, they quickly gained popularity. Later they have also become accessible through mobile devices with Internet connection. Some technologies, such as video and audio conferencing and Internet telephony, require more multimedia capabilities of computer systems. They are also more taxing of network resources than others.

Internet users are often warned regarding some of the security pitfalls of communicating online. Personal information, including dates of birth, addresses and bank details, can be accessed online by strangers and abused. Communication on the Internet is susceptible to monitoring because of the manner in which it is implemented. There have been laws enacted to protect users' privacy during electronic communications, but they are difficult to police and enforce.

When communicating on the Internet users also have to be careful to treat others with respect. Abusive and offensive communications are another area of concern. There are a number of cases of offending behavior on the Internet when laws applying to libel, abuse and harassment have been applied. In June 2011, in the United Kingdom, for the first time an Internet user was jailed for commenting on a social networking site while they were serving on the jury during a criminal trial.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Always On: Language in An Online and Mobile World
Naomi S. Baron.
Oxford University Press, 2008
The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online
Brenda Danet; Susan C. Herring.
Oxford University Press, 2007
Dialogue on the Internet: Language, Civic Identity, and Computer-Mediated Communication
Richard Holt.
Praeger, 2004
Language and the Internet
David Crystal.
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Virtual Freedom: Net Neutrality and Free Speech in the Internet Age
Dawn C. Nunziato.
Stanford University Press, 2009
Presidential Communication in the Internet Era
Owen, Diana; Davis, Richard.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 4, December 2008
Communication Preferences among University Students
Robinson, Sherry; Stubberud, Hans Anton.
Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, Vol. 16, No. 2, April 1, 2012
The Impact of the Internet on Teenagers' Face-to-Face Communication
Shim, Young Soo.
Global Media Journal, Vol. 6, No. 10, Spring 2007
Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships
Subrahmanyam, Kaveri; Greenfield, Patricia.
The Future of Children, Vol. 18, No. 1, Spring 2008
Frazzled by Facebook? an Exploratory Study of Gender Differences in Social Network Communication among Undergraduate Men and Women
Thompson, Sharon H.; Lougheed, Eric.
College Student Journal, Vol. 46, No. 1, March 2012
Nexus Analysis: Discourse and the Emerging Internet
Ron Scollon; Suzie Wong Scollon.
Routledge, 2004
Computers, Phones, and the Internet: Domesticating Information Technology
Robert Kraut; Malcolm Brynin; Sara Kiesler.
Oxford University Press, 2006
Sociology in the Age of the Internet
Allison Cavanagh.
Open University Press, 2007
Librarian’s tip: Part Two "The Internet as a Medium," Part Three "The Internet as a Social Space"
Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World
Trevor J. Blank.
Utah State University Press, 2009
Portrait of the Portal as a Metaphor: Explicating Web Portals for Communication Research
Kalyanaraman, Sriram; Sundar, S. Shyam.
Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 2, Summer 2008
Search for more books and articles on the Internet and communication