Have you ever wondered how your email travels all the way from your computer to your mother’s laptop half way across the country in a few milliseconds? Or how a sports fan with a smartphone in LA can know the outcome of the World Cup in Spain moments before the live TV broadcast? Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: a Journey to the Center of the Internet, explores how the Internet works as a physical system, full of buried connections, rivers of wires, humming servers, and fiber optic transoceanic cables.
Blum journeys on a pilgrimage to the Internet’s most important data centers and information hubs in an effort to find ‘pieces of the Internet’, and to view the Internet as both a virtual and physical place. Along the way, he meets with many of the Internet’s unsung heroes and follows his nose to ferret out just where all our data goes when we press ‘send’. Through his surprisingly personal trek across the world in search of the Internet, Blum grapples with conflicting definitions and perceptions of the Internet that in the end help illuminate its many facets. With the emergence of cloud storage and wireless everything, it’s refreshing and relieving to realize that even something as amorphous as the Internet is grounded in the physical, real world.
A little bit history, a little bit philosophy, a little bit spiritual, Tubes is great for readers who are curious about the behind the scenes action of the largest connected interface in the world. Fans of James Gleick’s The Information: a History, a Theory, a Flood and Tim Wu’s The Master Switch will certainly enjoy this thought-provoking new title.