rules of the road

Rules, in computer-speak, are usually called protocols. The HyperText Transfer Protocol governs the transmission of web pages, which is why your browser always inserts http:// at the start of any webpage you are trying to access. This basically says "use this set of rules for retrieving this webpage". The 'hypertext' part refers to the HyperText Markup Language (or HTML), which is basically a set of instructions about how to display the text on the page e.g. "make the heading bigger than the rest of the text", or "put this information in a 3x3 table" etc. You can read the HTML for this webpage but right-clicking on this page and selecting 'View Source'.

So the HyperText Transfer Protocal governs the transfer of Hypertext. Simple enough so far. But where does it transfer it from? Well, when you type in the browser the Freeform website address ( a request is sent from your computer out onto the internet. The first port-of-call for your request is a computer owned by your Internet Service Provider (or ISP). It relays the message (sometimes by way of several other computers) to one of our computers which is also connected to the internet. Our computer is waiting & listing for such requests and it responds to your request by sending the necessary HTML to the your computer.

So how does your computer find our computer? Much the same way that you would find the location of any real-world business: by looking for the address in a directory. This directory is called a Domain Name Server or DNS and it resolves the name of the site that you typed in ( to the Internet Protocol or IP address of the our computer. In our case that IP address is Every computer connected to the internet has an IP address, including your computer. And since your request to our computer included your IP address, our computer knows where to send the response.

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