Internet Tubes

(Image by Google)

After an incident in which a squirrel disabled his home internet connection,  Andrew Blum wrote Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet.


All of us have heard terms like “cyberspace,” “hyperspace,” and “world wide web.” All of these terms (as well as others) suggest that the internet is just “out there” without form or body but as Andrew Blum points out in his book, this isn’t entirely true. After the squirrel incident, Blum was suddenly aware that the internet is “connected” and that “wireless” isn’t an entirely accurate term. Blum was so fascinated by this fact that after he located the wire the squirrel had chewed through he literally followed the wire–and then other wires which eventually led him to “tubes” which housed fiber optics. Some of these fiber optic containing tubes run along the bottom of the ocean so that cities like London and New York can connect to each other as well as connecting many other places. Some fiber optic cables are buried underground. The whole experience is fascinating to read about. The fact that Blum could literally follow wires to see where they led him meant that the internet actually exists in physical space. It doesn’t exist like radio frequencies in the air. For the most part the physicality of the internet is hidden from most of us but it does require physical space. Blum went out of his way to try to find a map of the internet and then followed many routes all over the world.

This was such a fascinating concept to me that I googled, “Where the Internet Lives” which actually took me to a Google data center. Some of the pictures of the internet are beautiful. I hope you will check them out. The internet is several networks connected to each other. Therefore, the internet literally has to exist in at least two physical spaces. Therefore the internet can’t just “live” in one place, such as the Google Data Center. It has many “homes.” This is what Blum is talking about in his book and what that means literally around the world.

The next book I came across as I proceeded with my read through of the 380’s section was about communications of a very different type – Hollywood behind the scenes drama.

Scandals of Classic Hollywood

Anne Helen Petersen not only dishes out plenty of Hollywood gossip, she does so while managing to include historical fact presented as part of our cultural history while discussing the issues in the context of film, political, and even gender history in the “Golden Age” of Hollywood.  This true life drama is the stuff movies are made of: blundered cover ups, illegitimate children, sex, drugs, and love affairs. I don’t want to give away the stories in this book, but if you love to follow the careers of Hollywood celebrities, you would probably enjoy this book.

Have you ever thought about the internet in physical space? Do you read about your favorite celebrities?


11 thoughts on “Communications

  1. I always save your posts for when I can sit and enjoy them and again you have provided fascinating information! That is wild how a squirrel chewing his internet connection wire led to that interesting book! You remind me how many awesome non fiction books there are at the library outside m regular sections! You inspire me to explore more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So then I’ll be watching that library stack of yours…to see if you’re getting outside of your comfort zone! 😉 Seriously though I’m having to get well outside on my own comfort zone to do this project!


  2. Jennifer, this is fascinating!! The internet has always puzzled me. Especially the cloud. It has to be somewhere!! Now I know for sure I was right!!
    I admit to being morbidly curious about Hollywood, and scandals!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I clicked on the link about the Google data centers. Fascinating, thanks. I got to see some moderately large computing centers in my corporate career, but nothing even approaching that scale.
    Your piece is an interesting coincidence, because I was thinking just this week of a phrase that used to one of the big issues earlier in my career at tech companies (which included AT&T for a time): “The last mile.” AT&T and all the comms companies had 100 years’ experience stringing cable and then fiber optic line, including, as you point out, under the ocean (beginning in 1850!). But the big question was how in the HECK someone was going to connect millions of users in buildings scattered around the world with computing infrastructure. Now it’s everywhere, although the job was significantly eased by the emergence of networked computing linked to wireless signals of various kinds. We just assume it’s there, and you are CORRECT that it bears thinking about.
    Thanks, Jennifer.

    Liked by 1 person

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