Networking 101: What’s it All About?

December 8, 2011, By George Lang

Ok, so it’s been nearly two months since we started this new Networking 101 tutorial and we feel it’s time we explain ourselves: 1) Who is it for? 2) What’s the purpose? 3) What is networking anyway? 4) What can it do for me? 5) What areas of information technology (IT) are relevant to the networking discussion? 6) How can I take part?

FIRST OF ALL: Who is it for? As you can see by the simplicity of the questions, DeviceMAG’s new Networking 101 column is for anyone who uses computers, laptops, tablets, cellphones and smartphones, gaming devices and consoles, even TVs, media players, and cameras (i.e., the entire spectrum of electronic gadgetry that can be connected over a network); it’s not just for IT professionals (although there will be interesting topics for even the most seasoned computer experts). The language will remain as nontechnical as possible without sacrificing important and relevant information. When topics become a little testy for the hobbyist, we will do our best to explain each and every annoying do-it-yourself (DIY) acronym that comes your way.

SECONDLY: What’s the purpose? Our purpose at DeviceMAG is very simple: to share what we know about IT networking with those who might want to learn a little bit more about it. The purpose of networking in general is to connect intelligent, computerized devices together so that they can share information with each other (and, of course, with the people that run them).

THIRD: What is networking? Computer networking was born around the middle of the 20th Century in the United States out of a desire for government and university institutions to share information digitally (i.e., for their new-fangled devices called computers to communicate with each other). Subsequently, the concept began to spread to businesses; and, ultimately, to individuals and the Internet, which is one HUMUNGOUS network, by-the-way (BTW).

Internet Diagram

FORTH: What can it do for me? Our most sincere hope is that this tutorial column will help you, the reader, understand more about the technology you use; particularly the networking aspects. With this new found knowledge, your computer will become less of a mystery, far more fun to use, and less frustrating in the long run.

Networking itself helps you, already, in ways you probably don’t even imagine: if you are able to text your friends, it’s because you are networked to them; when they share a photo with you, it’s the network that makes that possible. It all happens without us even being aware of it, but there is an extremely complex, underlying set of protocols and interactions that make it all possible. Understanding just a little more about it helps make the experience far more gratifying and gives you the tools to utilize networking to your personal advantage.

PART FIVE: What areas of IT are relevant to the networking discussion? Topics that come into play in the networking discussion are both very simplistic and extremely complex. DeviceMAG’s Networking 101 tutorials are not college courses; and, therefore, we will not get involved in such things as explaining mathematical algorithms used by networking protocols; in-depth explanations of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model; or the programming of commercial switches and routers. This is knowledge used by professional networking technicians and is not needed to grasp the more general aspects of networking. The following list includes a few important areas that may be of interest to you.

    • Home Area Networking (HAN)
    • Purchasing Networking Devices
    • Personal Area Networking (PAN)
    • Local Area Networking (LAN)
    • Municipal Area Networking (MAN)
    • Wide Area Networking (WAN)
    • Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
    • Wireless Networking (Cellular or 3G, WiFi, WiMax or 4G, & Bluetooth)
    • Internetworking
    • Cloud Computing
    • Networking Security
    • Networking Software
    • Software Applications
    • Networking Hardware
    • Computer Shopping

FINALLY: How can I take part? First, we want to thank you for your interest in the work we do here at DeviceMAG. It is all done for you, the reader. The more you participate and provide feedback, the better we become at knowing what it is we can do for you. You can interact with our writers personally by emailing them or by emailing the editor directly. You can also post comments below the articles. We will do our best to discern what the largest number of readers are looking for and respond in kind.

We hope you enjoy this column as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. We hope you are having a great holiday season; and, we will see you next week.

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