The internet was born on January 1, 1983. That makes it nearly a quadragenarian, which is actually older than I had assumed given how recently I felt I was saying “the internet is only 25 years old.” Regardless, with perspective applied, that still makes the internet very young indeed. And while the crypto craze is suggesting that it will create a new internet for the populace of the world, I personally find that an improbable outcome. If most people think that Ethereum is a viable blockchain and Dogecoin is a satisfactory coin, then all those people should also believe that the current internet will be just fine because we can always fix it.

And that’s a consummate conclusion for the internet because during the 40-year voyage thus far, some things have needed fixing. One shouldn’t posit to me whether the entirety of Java can ever be replaced because I’m not a developer. But over the last decade, the internet made a prodigious transition from the HTTP protocol to HTTPS. This was eventually made easy with the help of an established hosting provider but not before it created formidable panic due to insufficient information (we were told these certificates needed to be changed every few months, and that sounded difficult because on each occasion when I tried completing the task without assistance, I couldn’t get but one certificate to work).

The change regarding HTTPS was much more notable to those who run websites, but there have been other changes over the years that Web users ought to have adjusted to, such as being taught to always type in www at the beginning of a Web address to never entering the Web’s supposed prefix. It’s worth noting that since the www prefix was used by so many people, that every website that gets created even today is taught to set up their sites so that should someone type in www at the beginning of the address it will automatically redirect to the more modern version of the Web address.

One contrivance that I was never taught about, though, was the existence of a forward slash in closing the Web address. Logic would suggest that once you’ve typed in the full domain name that you should be able to press Enter and then the internet will return the site. And for homepages, this is the case. But you will notice that as soon as the Web address is for an article rather than a homepage that the Web address needs added information in the address which is separated by a forward slash. This makes sense since it would be illogical for the start of the article word to join up to the domain extension without there being something to separate it, but what you might not have noticed before is that even if you skip typing it into the address bar, the article will have a forward slash at the end of the Web address as well. I’ve essentially lived in the mild metaverse now for no less than a decade, and I’ve never run into an occasion where the internet wouldn’t return a website if I didn’t include the last of the forward slashes . . . until recently.

I’ve now had the predicament of clicking on my own Instagram account from my site and “the Gram” not returning my personal webpage that would usually be filled with gripping photos. I deliberated to myself: that seems odd because I know Instagram is owned by Facebook and yet my Facebook link, which is set up identically, isn’t resulting in the same quandary. In an attempt to troubleshoot the error with Instagram, I logged in to the back end of my site and fiddled around for a bit, with one eventual idea being to add a forward slash at the end of the Web address . . . and presto . . . Instagram was working again.

Since the objective is bypassing these problems in the future, I decided I would head to my Facebook page and update all the links to return a forward slash at the end of the Web addresses, as I had just finished implementing on my domain. However, I found another conundrum: Facebook links prevented me from adding the addresses myself; instead, I could only choose a network of their choice and Facebook would automatically manage the link’s formality for me. Continuing the detective work, I followed Facebook’s lead and updated the links, just to be sure that they were up to date, and then visited them to check what status they returned. And strangely enough, Facebook wasn’t concluding the URLs with forward slashes still. I have since learned that these slashes following the URLs are called “trailing slashes.” And according to the internet, a URL without a trailing slash usually indicates a file, whereas a URL with a trailing slash often indicates a directory. However, the same article told me that those rules are guidelines and not always the case.