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Can you recommend a book about how the internet works?

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I've been unable to find something that meets my needs, and I'm not even sure whether such a book even exists. A lot of stuff about internet culture, internet history etc, but I'm more interested in the technical foundation, everything that makes the internet work.

The book should include information about
· the structure of the internet: nodes, clients, servers, backbones, sea cables...
· information about communication standards: ISDN, DSL, 4G, 5G, ...
· protocols and systems such as TCP/IP, HTTP, VPN, TLS, DNS, data packages ...

Examples of how information gets processed and travels through the internet. Maybe also suggestions on how to try things out for yourself through tools or a command prompt.

I'd also love some extras such as information design about the internet, how many visitors sites get, like an atlas about current topics, like the ones by Le Monde Diplomatique, only for the internet.

Neither completely academic / dry for master students nor "what is the internet for my grandparents" kind of thing.

Any suggestions are welcome, thanks.

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I'm not sure such a thing exists in one simple book. You don't want an academic or newbie thing but you want academic and newbie topics covered. This will easily fill 2000+ pages.

I think you should find multiple books from newbie through intermediate to advanced. I can give recommendations for German-language books, but will have to pass for the ones in English.


Four simple things:
There's a guide to AirVPN. Before you ask questions, take 30 minutes of your time to go through it.

Amazon IPs are not dangerous here. It's the fallback DNS.
Running TOR exits is discouraged. They're subject to restrictions on the internet and harm all AirVPN users.

Furthermore, I propose that your paranoia is to be destroyed. If you overdo privacy, you'll be unique among the mass again.

 

XMPP: gigan3rd@xmpp.airvpn.org or join our lounge@conference.xmpp.airvpn.org

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TCP/IP Illustrated by Richard Stevens is by far one of the best books I ever read that started my internet journey.
Start from that and you will quickly know how to google any missing parts.

My choice #2 will be A Guide to the TCP/IP Protocol Suite, and Routing TCP/IP Volume I, those are all 1990s
classics but not many things changed since then. Recently Routing TCP/IP Volume II 2nd Edition was released,
but I still didn't have time to read it. Maybe on my next long haul flight :)

Telecom 101 Fourth Edition was one of the latest ones I read, it is from 2015 or so, and it's also quite interesting.
This way you will see that not much was changed from the 90s era, at least on the global level.

Backbones, Sea cables, are not necessarily helpful knowledge, but as a quick reference start from here:
https://www.vox.com/a/internet-maps

Regarding the most modern technology, such as 4G/5G, you probably won't find books yet, since it's a niche
that comes with RFCs and technical docs, and is actually quite boring to read from start to end.
Just like you won't read some Doctor's reference book for fun (or maybe someone will) I find it quite hard to
read without a purpose, because it's mostly guidelines and standards. You need a more macro topic to start
with, especially if you are not doing it for fun but for some kind of academic research where time is limited.


Occasional moderator, sometimes BOFH. Opinions are my own, except when my wife disagrees.

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Thank you very much, I'm going to check out the books you mentioned.

Edit: I'd like to buy a physical copy, but Telecom 101 is already (again) out of print, and TCP/IP Illustrated has been criticized for many errors. Maybe I'll find a library copy somewhere.

What about website that would teach you these basics, combined with some to-do stuff to see for yourself? Anybody familiar with something like that?

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What about website that would teach you these basics, combined with some to-do stuff to see for yourself? Anybody familiar with something like that?

The basics are all over the internet, just search for any keyword you want.
Back in a day, it was quite hard to model some complex network and you had to do it
either on a paper of with MS Visio or a set of tiny virtual settings, lately there is a software called GNS3
that helps you to visualize such things - GNS3 https://www.gns3.com/

Don't expect any website to teach you any "to-do", this is a hands-on knowledge and requires
a hands-on practice. Did you ever see an athlete or an artist learning all the things from a website?
Same here. Practice is what makes you actually know things, not even memorizing a book as a copy machine.
There are many websites that can teach you how to drive a car without ever getting in one. You get the point.
And I met many people who know lots of theoretical things but when faced a real world scenario, which differs from
the common ones, find themselves lost as if it was their first day. So invest in real knowledge, the theory will come along.

Also, if you read these forums, it's a huge database of networking questions from almost every possible aspect,
with many references and troubleshooting examples. Just reading the forum areas can improve your knowledge
on the most common areas of networking, devices, protocols and other components that are used these days.
Of course if your goal is to become a researcher in this area, it will require more than just reading, but as a starting
point the forums here are a very good place to begin with, and some of our members can acknowledge that.

Occasional moderator, sometimes BOFH. Opinions are my own, except when my wife disagrees.

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