Go to the computer section of the search engine Yahoo and choose one of several historical perspectives, follow the site links for a taste of in-house retrospection and historical rational used by some of the many forces which have created the web.
For a fuller historical perspective, of the development of current jargon and the technological innovations and business decisions that brought the present web environment into existence, a recommended reading is
A History of Modern Computing by Paul E. Ceruzzi,
1998 The MIT Press ISBN 0-262-03255-4.
This is required reading for students pursuing a career in computer related industries or hoping to talk knowledgeably with veterans. Other books from the collection called History Of Computing, edited by I. Bernard Cohen and William Aspray, will be worth reading, particularly if you have library access to this expensive book series from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Reading about computers becomes easier and more stimulating only after a reader has surrendered to the spell. Viewing technology as 'someone else's game,' and unrelated to the magic of the internet, leaves a web researcher vulnerable to tech bullies. Instead, I recommend diving in and making sense of the sea of buzzwords, the flotilla of new commercially promoted gadgets, and start to separate the real from the hype.
In fact, computing is a young science and can be mastered, enough to follow the drift of most conversations. With a limited investment of time, reading on-line sources, a few books or manuals, and handling the current equipment will quickly open doors to most inner circles. Set some simple goals, for example, researching a few topics with the internet, creating a home page, creating a simple program in a basic programming language, and then go from there. Unlike many academic disciplines, which fearfully shield themselves from the internet, the computer industry loves to talk about itself on the web. All her secrets are here if you look closely. That is "looking" without our 'technophobic affect filter.'
For a deeper analysis of the people issues of the internet please read
CYBERSOCIETY 2.0 Revisiting Computer-Mediated Communication and Community, edited by Steven G. Jones, 1998 SAGE Publications ISBN 0-7619-1462-5 (pbk.)
This second book, following CyberSociety also edited by Steven G. Jones, continues to highlight issues in cyber "societies" such as 'community, standards of conduct, communication, the means of fixing identity, knowledge, information, and the exercise of power in social relations.' This work provides few answers, but helps provide a new take on the still unresolved interpersonal concerns of the internet community.
Considering the big picture from a social point of view helps us put the pieces together better, as we begin to construct virtual environments for an abstracted world audience.