I have a question for the non-programmers reading this: when you use the web, what is your intuition about how the whole thing works?

If you’re reading this, you use the web. If you’re anything like me, you use it quite a lot: keeping track of friends, shopping, work, booking holidays, killing time, and pretty much everything else. To trust the web with all this you’ve probably got some rough idea of how it works. I’d like to understand that rough idea.

There are no wrong answers. There are many metaphors to describe how the internet and the web work. Almost every metaphor is right enough in some way: including tubes. I’m curious about the metaphors you use to explain how it’s possible to type some details into your browser, and then be able to board a flight a few hours later. I’m particularly interested in any names you use for the things that are involved.

Please explain any part that’s of interest to you. Be as brief or as long as you’d like.

Technology is not doing enough to make it possible for non-programmers to contribute to the web on their own terms. I’d like to do something about that. But to help whatever I do needs to make sense and fit in with how people already think about the web.

So, how do you explain the web?

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