This article will give Web3 product designers an understanding of the foundational internet protocols that literally billions of users rely on everyday. This is a lead into discussing the evolution of the internet from Web1 to Web3. Understanding internet protocols will help you understand blockchain protocols, and the disruptive innovation of Web3 tokens. Stay tuned for future Web3 Design Courses where we deep-dive into products in the Web3 ecosystem.

Software protocols have been crucial in the development of information technologies. Billions of users everyday rely on internet protocols to access the web. These internet protocols dictate how networked computers request and share information with each other. Let’s take a look back at how these protocols developed, and where we are currently in terms of the development of the internet as a whole.

The internet is simply a network of connected computers. Once computers are physically connected in a network, software protocols standardize how these computers share data with one another. This includes rule sets for locating other computers on the network, sending data packets to a desired location, and checking that messages were received and correctly interpreted. These internet protocols can be broken into four layers:

  1. Hardware protocols
  2. Internet Protocol (i.e. IP)
  3. Transmission Control Protocol (i.e. TCP)
  4. Application Protocols (e.g. HTTP)

Hypertext Transmission Protocol (HTTP) is an important application protocol. HTTP defines how a computer requests data from, and serves data to, another computer. A common example is for a computer to request an HTML file from a web server (using an HTTP GET request) in order to view a web page on its internet browser.

This HTTP GET request then gets passed down one layer to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which tells the computer how to break the message into smaller data packets that will be sent one by one to the web server. TCP is also used by the web server receiving the data packets in order to assemble the data packets back into the original message.

The Internet Protocol (IP) ensures that the data packets reach their intended destination. Before sending the HTTP GET message via TCP, the IP wraps data packets with an IP address corresponding to the web server. This is like the “To:” field on a mail envelope. Finally, hardware protocols convert the data packets into electrical signals that get transmitted through the internet’s physical infrastructure (e.g. cables, modems, routers). 

On the other end, the web server will send back an HTML file using the same HTTP and TCP/IP process described above. Now you have a rough idea of how the web functions with a set of open-source internet protocols. These protocols were developed by independent researchers and non-profit organizations, and haven’t been modified much since the mid-1990’s. All of the web products we enjoy today would not exist without these internet protocols.

If you enjoy videos over reading when it comes to online learning then checkout the course on YouTube. This is part 1 of 7 in the Crypto Design Trends 2022 series. Also, make sure to stay tuned for future Web3 Design Courses where we will get into more interesting topics about emerging dApps.


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