, I don't quite care about your being unconventional, but you need to get basic things.
For example, the
Can I experiment first with TCP/IP, eventually moving on to things like SSL, using just HTML & Perl?
question doesn't quite make sense to me - HTML format has nothing to do with both TCP/IP and with SSL.
My sensation is that you lack basic understanding of hierarchy of things in this world.
And regarding Perl - it has interface to practically the whole standard "C" library (read 'perldoc perlfunc'), i.e. from Perl you can do practically anything you can do from "C" - if we are not talking about speed, but just functionality.