1. <jargon, networking> (Or "the net") The union of all the major noncommercial, academic and hacker-oriented networks, such as Internet, the old ARPANET, NSFnet, BITNET, and the virtual UUCP and Usenet "networks", plus the corporate in-house networks and commercial time-sharing services (such as CompuServe) that gateway to them.
A site was generally considered "on the network" if it could be reached by electronic mail through some combination of Internet-style (@-sign) and UUCP (bang-path) addresses. Since the explosion of the Internet in the mid 1990s, the term is now synonymous with the Internet.
See network address.
2. <body> A fictional conspiracy of libertarian hacker-subversives and anti-authoritarian monkeywrenchers described in Robert Anton Wilson's novel "Schrödinger's Cat", to which many hackers have subsequently decided they belong (this is an example of ha ha only serious).