It almost reads like science fiction but there’s a new book out by Andrew Blum called Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet. After a mishap with his computer, this Wired reporter started investigating the web world. What he discovered is that new technology depends heavily upon the old one. The Internet consists mainly of bundles of wires and inter-connective boxes and a 2,700 mile long hose buried in the Atlantic that carries “every email and financial transaction between New York and London.” (“Book of the Week,” The Week, June 22, 2012, pg. 20).
The internet, apparently, is more physical than metaphysical for as Blum points out, users’ don’t free float through the system as if they were in outer space. Governments and business can pull the plug on unruly citizens, individually or in aggravate, any time they choose. (Ibid, pg. 29)
At the end of his yellow brick road, the author discovers that the entire structure is “as unremarkable as a router,” (Ibid. pg. 20) — a little bit like pulling a curtain aside to discover the wizard isn’t magic. All this stuff about “cloud” computing is a misnomer. “Cloud” refers to the symbol for a complex infrastructure. (Wikipedia).
(Courtesy www. rvtripper.wordpress.com)
I feel better already… less ancient, less troglodyte, less old fashioned. All these savvy computer hipsters have been conning me with their doublespeak. The next time I think about the internet, I won’t look up at the sky. I’ll look down at my feet.