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?