5 Books to understand how the Internet works

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself giving an impromptu, and woefully inadequate, explanation of CIDR and hex in a product meeting.  Since I spend nearly all my time doing “business things” now, it struck me as remarkable how often it is still necessary to dive into the basic technical details of IP to solve routine business problems.  Looking at my bookshelf,  I wondered if one could pick 5 books to provide a solid understanding of the Internet’s workings.

With the goal of providing a tech savvy professional a decent grasp of  90% of Internet tech conversation one might encounter, it was tough narrowing it down to the “essentials”.  But here are 5 books that would get one close to that goal :

DNS and Bind – The navigation system of the WWW, where everything starts.

Building Internet Firewalls – This classic is Internet security 101.  Aside from security, there’s lots of good info on the various protocols that are used on the web.

HTTP Definitive Guide  (or the standard)- It doesn’t seem like a day goes by without a question that involves HTTP, especially how web browsers communicate with websites and cookie handling.

Cisco Internet Routing Architectures – This is *the book* for how data gets from one place to another on IP networks.  It was required reading at UUnet.

Sendmail – E-mail is still one of the killer apps on the web.  Understanding it brings together a bunch of concepts.

Obviously a lot is left out.  The tough omissions were HTML and web servers, but I figure that if one grasped the concepts in these 5, those are relatively easy to get.

So, what’d I miss?  Guess I’ll pay attention and see how I did…or start picking out 5 books on mobile.


About Jason Lynn

Product guy in NYC, enjoying the digital revolution.
This entry was posted in Internet Technologies, Learning Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 5 Books to understand how the Internet works

  1. Jason Lynn says:

    Chris Dixon writes a compelling article that everyone should learn to program. Along with accounting basics I think it’s crucial for business success in the “new” economy.


  2. Pingback: What books are good for gaining an in-depth understanding about how the Internet works? - Quora

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