Wayne passed along a link that I had forgotten about. I remembered the powerful idea at the heart of the link but I had forgotten who had written it.
World of Ends: What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else by Doc Searls and David Weinberger is an explanation of how best to understand the Internet.
The Internet isn't a bunch of wires and cables and companies hooking computers together. The Internet is a set of agreements that allow people to hook networks up to each other seamlessly. The result is that for all practical purposes the Internet is the collection of all the computers attached to each other. It's the collection of computers at the outside edge of the network.
You computer, your laptop, and your cellphone are all part of the Internet.
We tend to think of the Internet as Google, and Amazon, and Blogger, and our bank, and other sites. They see the Internet as the place were all their customer's are. It turns out the Internet is both.
Maybe the best way to think of the Internet is to think of it as the place where we all meet and connect. It isn't a thing or a place. It's where all the computers and people at the ends of the network build a collective on which almost anything can happen.
If you haven't red Worlds of Ends I highly recommend it. It may change how you understand the Internet.