It’s pretty inconsequential to the vast majority of people. But it’s going to be inconsequential in the same way postcodes are to people soon.
It’s been a fascinating story for a number of years now. The explosion of the Internet, the way it’s changed business and society. The other fascinating part is that it’s popularity and expansion is so much of a surprise to those that built it in the first place.
The addressing system for the internet that caught on, IPv4 has 2^32 addresses (that’s 4,294,967,296). Vint Cerf thought that would be plenty and at the time in 1981 not many would argue with him.
But now there are many more people in the world and lots of those people want to use the internet. They might share a device, or they might have access to many more and each of those devices needs an address to talk to the internet.
Today the last blocks of addresses were handed out the the regional authorities who will then hand out smaller blocks of addresses to ISPs. So this is it we’re near the end.
Soon to add a new device to the internet we will be forced to use something else. But in most cases we’re not ready for it. We were talking about it when I was at Uni, we were still talking about it a few years later in 2007 when I went to a RIPE course and we are still yet to switch it on in many cases in 2011.