Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet

Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet

3.5 12
by Andrew Blum
     
 

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“Andrew Blum plunges into the unseen but real ether of the Internet in a journey both compelling and profound….You will never open an email in quite the same way again.”
—Tom Vanderbilt, New York Times bestselling author of Traffic

In Tubes, Andrew Blum, a correspondent at Wired magazine, takes us on an

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Overview

“Andrew Blum plunges into the unseen but real ether of the Internet in a journey both compelling and profound….You will never open an email in quite the same way again.”
—Tom Vanderbilt, New York Times bestselling author of Traffic

In Tubes, Andrew Blum, a correspondent at Wired magazine, takes us on an engaging, utterly fascinating tour behind the scenes of our everyday lives and reveals the dark beating heart of the Internet itself. A remarkable journey through the brave new technological world we live in, Tubes is to the early twenty-first century what Soul of a New Machine—Tracy Kidder’s classic story of the creation of a new computer—was to the late twentieth.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Tubes is sprightly and easy to read…As we move into an ever-more-wireless world, it's worth remembering that so much of this system relies on cables, networks, data centers, mainframes and physical effort.
—Mark Berman
Library Journal
Here Blum (correspondent, Wired; contributing editor, Metropolis) attempts to understand the infrastructure of the Internet. He reflects on his travels and recounts conversations with people who founded, helped understand, maintained, or developed the Internet's physical presence. Blum visits Leonard Kleinrock, one of the fathers of the Internet, who wrote the first paper on packet switching—the concept that information can be transmitted in small chunks. He also meets with Markus Krisetya, a cartographer employed by TeleGeography whose work maps the Internet across the globe. Most web users rarely think about the infrastructure of the Internet, but more technically savvy readers may find Blum's reflections wear thin. VERDICT Blum might have conveyed in fewer pages his conclusion that the Internet is everywhere and is, "in fact, a series of tubes." Of interest to the general reader with a beginning curiosity about the infrastructure of the Internet, this title is not recommended for more knowledgeable readers in the history, politics, or sociology of technology and the Internet. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/11.]—Jon Bodnar, Emory Univ., Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
Captivating behind-the-scenes tour of how (and where) the Internet works. When an errant squirrel disrupted his Internet connection, Wired correspondent Blum embarked on a journey to discover the roots and structure of the Internet. Taking its title from former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' much-ridiculed 2006 description of the Internet as "a series of tubes," this debut deftly combines history, travelogue and jargon-free technical explanations. Blum begins by chronicling the birth of the Internet in the late 1960s. He traveled to UCLA to see one of the first networked computers and meet 75-year-old professor Leonard Kleinrock, one of the fathers of the Internet. From there, Blum visited the companies that form the Internet's "backbone": hubs of networked servers where billions of bits of data zip through every second. Travelling around the world, the author was surprised to discover that "the Internet wasn't a shadowy realm but a surprisingly open one." Nearly everywhere he went, he was offered a tour by people happy to share their work and expertise (Google's data center was the lone exception). While Blum occasionally gets bogged down by the technical ins and outs of servers and cable routing, which may not interest some readers, he has a gift for breathing life into his subjects, including Eddie Diaz, an electrical worker the author followed as he installed thousands of feet of new cable under the streets of Manhattan. A fascinating and unique portrait of the Internet not as "a physical world or a virtual world, but a human world."
The New York Times
[Blum's] quixotic and winning book is an attempt to comprehend the physical realities of the Internet, to describe how this seemingly intangible thing is actually constructed…Mr. Blum is an unobtrusive writer, yet one with a knack for bundling packets of data into memorable observations.
—Dwight Garner
New York Times
“Quixotic and winning. . . . Valuable, comic. . . . [Blum has] a knack for bundling packets of data into memorable observations. What makes Tubes more than an unusual sort of travel book, is [Blum’s] sense of moral curiosity.”
The Economist
“An engaging reminder that, cyber-Utopianism aside, the internet is as much a thing of flesh and steel as any industrial-age lumber mill or factory. It is also an excellent introduction to the nuts and bolts of how exactly it all works.”
Science News
Tubes is an absorbing tale of this new technology, as well as a wonderful account of the Internet’s growth and the people who made it possible.”
Boston Globe
“Clever, enterprising . . . Tubes uncovers an Internet that resembles nothing so much as a fantastic steam-punk version of itself.”
The Guardian
“Engaging. . . . Full of memorable images that make the internet’s complex architecture easier to comprehend. . . . Blum leaves readers pondering questions that would not have occurred to them before and better informed about an innovation most of us take for granted.”
Shelf Awareness
“A fascinating exploration of the physical nature of the Internet, and how the ‘network of networks’ came to be the way it is.”
Scientific American
“A charming look at the physical infrastructure that underlies the Web.”
New Scientist
“A satisfying postmodern quest. . . . The history, in particular, is one of the best and most memorable I have ever read.”
PopMatters
“Engaging. . . . Blum is a natural storyteller.”
Guernica
“Enlightening. . . . A zippy history of a phenomenon that, as a society, captivates us, connects us, and vexes us.”
New York Journal of Books
“Blum paints a vivid picture of the Internet, and gives a sense that it is more than just the mysterious interstitial digital space between your computer and mine. It is, increasingly, the backbone that supports our daily life, and Mr. Blum is an able anatomist.”
Bella Bathurst
“At once funny, prosaic, sinister and wise . . . A beautifully written account of the true human cost of all our remote connectivity.”
Joshua Foer
“Every web site, every email, every instant message travels through real junctions in a real network of real cables. It’s all too awesome to behold. Andrew Blum’s fascinating book demystifies the earthly geography of this most ethereal terra incognita.”
Laura Miller
“Ingeniously beguiling. . . . Blum is a smart, imaginative, evocative writer who embraces the task of making his readers feel the wonder represented by these unprepossessing objects.”
Donovan Hohn
“With infectious wonder, Blum introduces us to the Internet’s geeky wizards and takes us on an amiably guided tour of the world they’ve created, a world of wires and routers through which most of us daily wander . . . but which few of us have ever really seen.”
Tom Vanderbilt
“Compelling and profound. . . . For the first time, Tubes brings the ‘network of networks’ into stirring, and surprising, relief. You will never open an email in quite the same way again.”
Paul Goldberger
“A compelling story of an altogether new realm where the virtual world meets the physical.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061994937
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/29/2012
Pages:
294
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Donovan Hohn
“With infectious wonder, Blum introduces us to the Internet’s geeky wizards and takes us on an amiably guided tour of the world they’ve created, a world of wires and routers through which most of us daily wander . . . but which few of us have ever really seen.”
Tom Vanderbilt
“Compelling and profound. . . . For the first time, Tubes brings the ‘network of networks’ into stirring, and surprising, relief. You will never open an email in quite the same way again.”
Paul Goldberger
“A compelling story of an altogether new realm where the virtual world meets the physical.”
Laura Miller
“Ingeniously beguiling. . . . Blum is a smart, imaginative, evocative writer who embraces the task of making his readers feel the wonder represented by these unprepossessing objects.”
Joshua Foer
“Every web site, every email, every instant message travels through real junctions in a real network of real cables. It’s all too awesome to behold. Andrew Blum’s fascinating book demystifies the earthly geography of this most ethereal terra incognita.”

Read More

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