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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 TrafficIn Tubes, Andrew Blum, a correspondent at Wired magazine, takes us on an engaging, utterly fascinating tour behind the scenes of our everyday liv“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 TrafficIn 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....

Title : Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061994937
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 294 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet Reviews

  • J
    2019-01-31 20:21

    An ambitious attempt to balance a technical, psychological and sociological examination of the "Internet." Ultimately, the book fails to advance any meaningful analysis. Blum's self-imposed task was to find physical infrastructure components of the global internet, but instead he drowns us in aspirational language more concerned with the wonder of modern inter-connectivity than the task at hand. Fancy literary references make it seem Blum is more familiar with liberal arts curriculum than anything technical. For those readers with a basic understanding of the internet, this book will not enhance their understanding at all. Those lacking a basic understanding may find themselves lost. Blum visited many interesting sites and met with some knowledgeable network engineers. Unfortunately, his jaunts come across as vacations lacking much benefit to the reader.This disappointing book is written in an unwarranted self-indulgent style. Readers interested in the topic of communications systems may be interested in Tim Wu's well-documented historical analysis, "The Master Switch."

  • Ken
    2019-02-21 01:37

    Overall, this was a disappointing book. The author had a technical subject matter -- the book could have read like a technical manual, though it didn't -- but in trying to make it accessible, I think he basically ended up skipping the subject matter. The book is supposed to be about the internet. Really though, it's more about the author's quest to see the internet. As such, he spent (in my opinion) too much time talking about how people he met were dressed and what they were doing and not enough time talking about the internet and how they functioned. I read this entire book, but don't feel that I am any more enlightened about the internet or how it functions.

  • Loring Wirbel
    2019-01-24 19:44

    If I was to rate this on the quality of writing alone, Blum could win a high 4, maybe a 5, for the richness of his descriptive passages, particularly in the parts on the cable landing stations in Cornwall or the modernization of The Dalles in Oregon. Let's face it, Blum can write well and engagingly. Nevertheless, even in the writing style there are a few nagging problems. His tendency to use quotes from literary sources like Emerson or J.G. Ballard is OK when limited to once or twice in a single book, but after a while the use of such quotes sounds a little too grad-student for my tastes. There were passages that were just trite or silly, as well - the squirrel chewing up cable, complete with exclamation points in the text; the description of Silicon Valley as startup mecca, when that description even seemed dated and pedestrian in the 1980s; and the reference to The Dalles as a digital Kathmandu. Don't get me wrong, I like the Zen aspects of Blum's search, it's just that one must be careful in using these analogies at getting too starry-eyed. Also, he gets a trifle over-dramatic in confronting the secrecy of Google and other companies in dealing with data center locations. If Blum was like James Bamford, chasing down the location of snooping centers of intelligence agencies, he'd have reason to feel paranoid. Here, his fears just seem silly.But there is another aspect of Blum's work that makes me rank the book in the high-3's, albeit moving closer to 4. I disagree with the nature of his quest and the way he chooses to pursue it. I know, I know, that sounds like a reviewer for a travel book who says he wished the writer had gone to Spain instead of Kazakhstan. But bear with me.Blum rightly sees a certain spiritual quest in examining the communication protocol layers of the Internet, and there's an argument to be made for treating the Open Systems Interconnect seven-layer stack as a mysterious bardo. But Blum sees the bottom two layers, physical and data-link, as representing physical macro-geography. And that's where network engineers raise their eyebrows at his quest. Does it matter whether the data center is in The Dalles or Prineville? Does it matter whether a Cisco or Brocade router sits at the center? Does it matter the locations on the planet where networks aggregate? Some might talk about planetary magnetic fields and ley lines and say, "Oh yes it does." Maybe so, but by spending too much time on large-scale geography, you miss the spiritual layers underneath.To really make some good analogies of the type Blum strives for, you need to understand the underlying chip architectures and middle-ware software responsible for dissecting packets and putting them back together. You need to understand the Zen of Ethernet switching, multi-protocol label switching, and dense wave-division multiplexing. Then you need to be able to translate that in a way your grandmother can understand. Does that mean one needs a BSEE or geekdom certification? No, but it means one needs to go deeper into the technology than Blum did.A similar problem exists when he equates the physical backbone of the Internet with fiber optics. This is true today, but the optics might some day be replaced by millimeter-wave radio or some sort of quantum-computing "weird action at a distance." The key to the Internet's center is bandwidth itself, and optical switching is merely the best current manifestation.The reason this matters is that several books that made a technology deep-dive on the history and nature of the Internet were released 10 to 15 years ago, such as Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon's "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" (1996). A lot has happened to the Internet since then, but Blum had to show he could tackle the more recent nuances and still come out with something that moved beyond the Hafner/Lyon book.I still think this book is worth a read for learning some details of specific place - the paranoid secrecy of Google officials in discussing their data centers, for example, teaches us that Google is a lot creepier than Facebook in its own way. Blum's talents could be put to future use - he would be a great candidate to join with James Bamford in dissecting the new NSA data center in Bluffdale, Utah, for example. But I can't help but feel this book would have been a lot more interesting if Blum had used his Zen quest to dive deeper into the underlying chips and software that make the Internet hum.

    2019-01-24 21:22

    You can tell the author writes about architecture and it helps. The internet isn't just wireless and ubiquitous. It resides in data centers, fiber optic cables, and internet exchanges. There are places you can actually touch it and that knowledge makes TUBES worth the read.As a side note Google is totally like the book The Circle. Everywhere the author went was open, transparent, and teeming with information; except Google.

  • Mary Soderstrom
    2019-02-02 23:38

    What the Internet Is: Fragile or Robust?As I write this, The New York Times has been off-line for about 18 hours here. Some stories are being posted on the newspaper's Facebook page, but because of a hacker attack the main website remains down. This is a warning shot, according to some observers. Syrian hackers or hackers sympathic to the Syrian regime (and who call themselves the Syrian Electronic Army) are demonstrating what havoc they could wreak if Western powers follow through on their tough talk. The trouble follows the disruption of the Nasdaq stock exchange a week ago, which is supposed to be due to a technical glitch rather than bad guys.Both events are troubling, and underscore how much we rely on binary code sent at the speed of light to operate nearly every corner of our lives.According to Informationnews, the current hacker battle involves trying to wrest control "by adjusting the domain name system (DNS) settings for the hacked sites...."The affected domain names were all registered through Australia-based Melbourne IT, which confirmed Wednesday that its systems had been compromised by hackers. The company said Wednesday that it had restored the hacked DNS credentials, locked those records to prevent further changes, disabled the legitimate account credentials that hackers had used to access its systems, and continued to investigate the intrusion."Melbourne? Aren't we talking about New York? Those are questions I might have asked, had I not just finished reading Andrew Blum's recent Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet. A journalist who has written often for Wired, Blum began his quest when a squirrel gnawed through a fiber optic cable connecting his computers to the internet. A little disingenuosly, he says he wanted to know to what that cable connected him. The result is an engaging, somewhat meandering story of his travels to find out.To make a long story short, the cable was (and is) connected to other cables which pass through several junctions where information is routed practically instaneously, and automatically directed to its destination. Blum is very good at giving the (relatively short) history of how these networks were set up and what they look like. He's also good at finding a good comparison: cases containing coils of optic fiber cable are the size of Labradors and the cable itself looks like "giant squid." The reader learns why you don't often get that annoying lag in transcontinental telephone conversations these days (the signals used to be bounced up to sattelites, but most now go by undersea cable: same speed, shorter distance). Blum tells us about the secrecy at Google's data center storage facilities on the Columbia River in Oregon, and the much more open facility at Facebook's installations a couple of hundred miles away. The difference, he suggests, may have much to do with the way "Facebook played fast and loose with our privacy while Google vehementaly protected it."He also tells us that those little packets of information that are our emails, web pages, pictures and stock quotations must be "goosed" along every 50 miles or so to keep moving at light speed. But what he doesn't do is give a really good explanation of how those packets are made up. Yes, we know that binary code is just circuits off and on, but how does that get transformed into light? Are we talking simple alternating current here? Or something else?The book has no maps or charts that might let us figure out why messing around with DNS in Melbourne could shut down website of giants in New York. And Blum is rather sanguine about where this all leading us. The internet isn't "a physical world or a virtual world, but a human world," he ends the book. "...Wherever I am, wherever you are."So even though I felt myself better informed when I finished the book, this morning I am considerably more concerned about where all this interconnectivity is leading us. It makes perfect sense that Melbourne IT ordinarily involved in spreading the NYT's word around the world, and trouble there could mean trouble lots of other places. BTW, are you receiving this?

  • Christoph
    2019-02-07 23:40

    The internet is a thing, not an idea, not the virtual, not psychology, not a medium. All these tropes have been exhausted in all the other similar inventions preceding it such as radio, phones, TV, or satellites. As a matter of fact some of those infrastructures that comprise the other objects at one time or another were justified by acting as a means to transmit the internet. But Andrew Blum in Tubes diagrams and explains all the ways in which the internet becomes a thing. This book is basically a technical history of the internet and its actually not bad. Blum uses metaphor (lots of it), humor, prose, pop culture, and emotion to consider this thing we call the internet. Blum begins at the starting point for any individual on the internet, at the terminal, and traces the lines through the various stages of internet architecture including transmission infrastructure, topographic structure, and logic to create as human a story of the internet as one can get.Although I do have high praise for the story there are some interesting missteps. The biggest gripe I have is the constant need to contextualize the internet into ideas that people can consume. The explanation of the volume of data passing through an exchange or the speed of data transmission across continents on undersea data lines can never just pass on its on merits, it must be compared to some other more relatable concept. I understand the need for comparison, but over and over and it sort of creates a cognitive dissonance that this thing which actually exists that is not conceptual must constantly be explained in terms of things that it absolutely isnt. Also, the last chapter of this book to me is very problematic. The last chapter goes into quite some detail on data centers specifically two storage centers, both in Oregon, one controlled by Google and the other by Facebook. Here a bit of ideology seems to seep into what was previously an unbiased assessment of an industry that was basically built on ideology. Blum seems to basically slam Google for not being invited into their The Dalles Data Center. He recreates the encounter step by step which is basically a non-encounter with a data center and it clearly wrecks his narrative, yet he still felt compelled to include the whole event. Meanwhile, he has glowing descriptions of Facebook (albeit muted glowing) for being allowed to tour their Prineville Data Center. The whole thing was enough to sour the experience for me. All I can say is that Blum's criticisms of Google are founded, which is all the more reason why they might not have wanted to let him into their Data Center.Regardless, Blum raises some important points on what the internet is, and even some on what it isnt. In so doing, much of the confusion and misconception surrounding the net is put to rest. The bottom line is if you ever wondered where that packet of information you upload goes when you post to a blog or login to do your online banking then this book may just open your eyes to the reality of the internet.

  • Bookworm Smith
    2019-02-17 20:22

    Following that cord from your computer to the 'internet' is the general idea behind this book. What would it look like? How does it actually work? Good idea, me thinks. Andrew Blum does a great job at describing it all. But, (yes, a big but)...this would have made a lovely magazine article. As it turns out making a book about it was taking it just a few steps too far.Overall, there is very little to the 'internet'; little variety that is. The internet is huge and spreads across the entire globe, but, as it turns out there is really only wire and a surprisingly low number of routers. This books shows us that...from a dozen different angles.Turns out if you send an email from your computer it goes through your home router, down a wire, to the local provider's router, down some more wire, to an 'exchange' (code for another router), where it goes along some more wire, to another exchange (aka router), along even more wire, to the last router, where it is pushed up a wire to its destination. So, let me sum it up in easy-speak-chant : *clears throat* wire, router, wire, router, wire, router, wire, router...There. That is pretty much the bones of this book. Blum tries to add some interesting guts to these bones, but, he doesn't have much to work with. He describes the uniform routers and wire that make up the internet in extreme detail and poetic prose, but, again I can sum it up in easy-speak-chant:*clears throat* black cable, blinky router lights, yellow cable, blinky router lights, thick cable, blinky router lights, underwater cable, blinky router lights...Even when he starts to describe the people who work on the 'internet', they are surprisingly bland - computer nerds in hoodies leaning over a laptop (they all seem to have very little social skills as well). There is one spark of life when Blum goes on an overnight shift with some blue collar cable layers under the streets of NYC. But, for the most part the IT people sounded very boring.I was left hoping for more. Again, Blum does a great job at describing the limited parts of the internet, I can picture how beautiful a refrigerator sized router can look bathed in the soft glow of fluorescent lights, but, you can only read so much of the same thing. It wasn't his words that were repetitive, it was the content. I'd say read Andrew Blum, but, just not this book.http://bookwormsfeastofbooks.blogspot...

  • Nick Black
    2019-01-30 02:28

    this book could have dialed back on the childlike whimsy and wonder, preferably replacing it with some cold hard technical facts. for someone who knows absolutely nothing about internetworking, this is perhaps a good follow-on volume toWhere Wizards Stay Up Late, but it's not even as good as that bit of pop computer science. and don't get pissy with us not letting you into the Dalles datacenter, blum! i've been in there. it's a bunch of machines. there are large transformers. dudes scuttle around with hard drives. you didn't miss anything, and it's very doubtful that letting random journalist Brooklyn-by-way-of-University of Toronto asshats roam our data centers like lost toddlers would "really give the public insight into and relief concerning Google's use of their data," unless the public has 20/20 vision into the heart of hard drives and distributed systems, which it decidedly does stylish notes, the cover was stupid, Andrew Blum found some of his similes so nice he repeated them twice, or thrice, and his picture annoyed me.

  • Matt
    2019-02-11 21:48

    I found this book to be engaging and informative, but I would have preferred more description and less philosophizing.An errant squirrel chewing through Mr. Blum's cable wire launches him on a journey to understand the physical nature of the Internet. This takes him from a key site in the origin of the academic internet (Len Kleinrock's IMP at Berkeley) through its transition to anarchic commercial interconnections at sites like MAE East in Tyson's Corner, Virginia, where packets were sometimes routed from finland to Tyson's to Finland again, through the more robust Network Access Points that supplanted the early MAE site and the deep sea fiber cables that link them, and finally to the data centers that house our Facebook profiles and other aspects of our digital selves.This was fascinating stuff, especially Blum's recounting of a new fiber optic link in the Net literally emerging from the sea. But Blum's speculations about the nature of place and the tension between human geography and internet are somewhat distracting. Still, this book is strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in the Internet or communications.

  • Harold
    2019-02-17 00:41

    Tubes is a description of the infrastructure of the internet -- the wires, the buildings, the cables. Unfortunately, it isn't more interesting than that. There are wires, buildings and cables. Some are messy. Most are in buildings that just happened to be there -- perhaps in your neighborhood In Los Angeles, where I live, One Wilshire is apparently such a building. Wires stretch under the sea, all over the world.There. I just saved you 250 pages. Not much more interesting happens.

  • Margot
    2019-01-23 18:28

    An interesting topic, but it's told in a travelogue style, with far too much personal experience tossed in with the relevant historical context. It felt very happenstance, as if readers could be missing a whole part of the history of the physical structure of the internet just because maybe somebody didn't return a call from Blum.Didn't finish completely.

  • David
    2019-01-22 23:31

    The factual information was interesting, but the non stop poetic waxing about the physical geography of the internet got really old really quickly. I pretty much vowed I would not read any more articles this guy ever wrote.

  • Pamela
    2019-01-31 20:44

    Informative account of how some of the physical aspects of the internet works. There's a slight amount of history of the beginnings, as well as a little with communications overall. The book is very much a travelogue of the author searching for the pieces that make the internet. I was surprised to learn it's way more centralized than I believed, mostly for the router network switching points. This was written by a non-computer science person for other non-computer science people. In fact, with the various literary references it's more geared towards people like me who were English majors. If you're well versed in hardware this book probably doesn't give you more info than you already know. I had hoped for a little more info on how the internet actually works, but this was a good start, and fairly readable. Even though the book is already five years old, it isn't very outdated. Perhaps the big network routers are a different brand or model, but overall it's doubtful that the basics of the internet has changed much.

  • Lucy
    2019-02-21 18:36

    Taková geekovská historie internetu. Nejsem expert, takže polovina věcí mi vůbec nedávala smysl.

  • Laura
    2019-01-30 22:45

    Poorly written in every way.

  • Heather
    2019-02-19 19:48

    Around Chapter 4, when Blum visits the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, the book got significantly more interesting to me: where in earlier chapters Blum was focused a lot on background/history and the various things he learned from various key people, the focus here shifts to what he sees. In Amsterdam, it occurs to Blum that he could/should see things in a bit of a different way from the corporate-approved tours he's been getting. He's found a map of data centers in the Netherlands and sees that there are plenty in Amsterdam—so he convinces a routing-table analyst to go on an 8-mile urban hike with him, to see the buildings from the outside. This results in a really pleasing section in which Blum talks about Robert Smithson's "A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic" (which I haven't read, but clearly should) and how it argues "that there is value in noticing what we normally ignore, that there can be a kind of artistry in the found landscape, and its unconventional beauty can tell us something important about ourselves" (151). So Blum walks and looks, and we get passages like this:Our first data center was visible from the elevated train platform: a menacing concrete bunker the size of a small office building, with worn-out blue window trim, spreading out along a canal connecting to the Amstel River. The late-winter day was gray and damp, and there were houseboats tied up at the edge of the still water. My map indicated that the building belonged to Verizon, but a sign on the door said MFS—the vestigial initials of Metropolitan Fiber Systems, [...] which Verizon had acquired years before. There was clearly no rush to keep up appearances; it seemed, rather, that its new owners preferred the building to disappear. (152)In the next chapter, after visiting a router manufacturer in San Jose, Blum comes back to New York and spends a night watching a crew lay fiber optic cable in lower Manhattan. He talks about how, rather than being something totally new, the Internet infrastructure in a place like New York is layered on/builds off the pre-existing infrastructure from telegraph and telephone systems. This chapter was also super-pleasing to me because Blum talks about two buildings in lower Manhattan that have a telecommunications history—the old Western Union building at 60 Hudson and the old AT&T Building at 32 Avenue of the Americas—one of which is the building where I work. Both buildings are "art deco palaces" (it's true) and when they were built, each apparently had its own "gymnasium, library, training school, even dormitories." In 1955, the first transatlantic telephone cable went from 32 Avenue of the Americas to London. And now? As Blum puts it of 32 Avenue of the Americas, "on the twenty-fourth floor is the Internet" (176). Each of these buildings houses its own Internet exchange, and in that sense, as Blum notes, they're not so different from the other ones he visited: except that they're "a fact of geography," an outgrowth of the New York of the early twentieth century, twenty-first-century spaces "built upon hundred-year-old telephone infrastructure, nestled between stock exchanges and railroad tracks" (ibid.). Those middle chapters were the most exciting to me, but the remainder of the book is interesting, too. Blum is a smart and engaging writer, and while the first three chapters sometimes felt like a slog, I was pleased with this book by the end, and quite glad to have read it.

  • Julia
    2019-02-18 02:28

    Tubes is an eye-opening page turner about the cables, routing stations, and data centers that make up the internet. From the non-descript routing stations on the edges of suburban towns to vast lengths of cable strewn along the sea floor, the author shows that this ethereal internet, 'the cloud', is actually very tangbile and human. In the book, the author takes you on a journey to these router stations, introduces you to the people that lay the underground cables, and even attempts to get into a Google data center. One of the facts I learned that boggled my mind the most is that much of the communication that goes on between America and Europe is done through just 16 strands of fiber optic cable. Imagine, millions of computers communicating using just 16 strands! I know what the speed of light is, but obviously can't comprehend such vast numbers as 300 million meters per second because it still seems incredible that millions of people can communicate through just 16 seperate channels sending light pulses at 300 million meters per second. The book's title, Tubes, is a reference to senator Ted Stevens' metaphor of the internet as a series of tubes. We ridiculed the statement, but actually when you look at the fibers and underground sea cables that make up the backbone of the internet, you will realize that Stevens might deserve a bit more credit. This book detailed beautifully the infrastructure behind the internet, and made me wish I knew more about the protocols that govern the internet, and about other types of infrastructure that we take for granted such as sewage systems, the electric grid, and public transit. Overall, I would recommend this book to anybody who likes learning about the gritty underbellies of complex systems, and wants to know more about what are the physical components the make up the internet.

  • Fred Platten
    2019-01-23 23:40

    wow, this is bad. I thought this was a book about the internet, but it's about the author who injects himself in the narration way too much. Goes on for pages about his hotel rooms and looking things up on the internet. Unbelievable. I think this book falls under "literary" non-fiction. I really hate those books.

  • Nicholas
    2019-01-27 21:40

    This is a solid book with good journalism about a piece of our information infrastructure that is vital, but poorly understood and frequently ignored. Andrew Blum sets out with a project: follow the cable out of his house back to the physical structure of the Internet. What follows is a interesting and personable exploration of global networking. Blum avoids technical talk, I didn't have to use much of what I learned getting an ancient Network+ certification to follow him. {Tech: He briefly mentions TCP and IP and also the physical, network, and transport layers, but not in the context of the OSI model.} While Blum is no engineer, I think he make wise choices about how to frame his book. His story of following the tubes from his house to find the Internet is interesting. He identifies hidden parts of our global network structure and sheds some light on an industry that is usually obscure. Sure, we all heard about Global Crossing when they went bankrupt, but Blum explains how the undersea fiber business works in lay persons terms that is illuminating.I really enjoyed listening to Blum read Tubes. Many author-read books on Audible make me wish they'd have sprung for voice talent, but Blum does a good job here. I enjoyed the content and subject matter. I enjoyed his perspective, humor, and insight. Over all, this was very well done.So, if you have ever been curious about how fiber networks are structured or want to know how the internet gets to your house, read this. If you want to more about the OSI network model, router protocols, or packet switching, look elsewhere. If fiber networks and physical infrastructure bore you, avoid at all costs.

  • Pauline
    2019-01-29 19:36

    This is quite the interesting subject matter that Blum tackles here. The internet is prevalent through all aspects of our life and many cannot even imagine life without it. How and where does this all begin? This is the question that Blum discusses throughout this informative book. It is quite well written and researched and was a good history lesson on the creation and development of what we now know as the internet. However, it fell a bit flat for me. It read like a magazine article...that never ended. I quite enjoy non-fiction books but something about this particular one just didn't capture my attention. It was one of those books that I would forget what I was reading about as soon as I put it down. This may not be the case for everyone though. It is a highly informative books. So if you want to brush up on internet history knowledge I would recommend this book. Disclaimer: I won this as a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

  • Jonathan Cassie
    2019-02-04 23:44

    I liked "Tubes," but in fairness, I wanted to like it a lot more. Blum asked the kind of question I bet a lot of us have asked - exactly where is the Internet? A fair question, and one that most of us don't know the answer to - particularly if we mocked Sen. Ted Stephens' infamous "it's a series of tubes comment." Turns out, Stephens was largely right. The question of where the Internet is got Blum to range far and wide and to visit strange buildings whose only purpose is to route Internet traffic, the one place in Cornwall where the transatlantic cable rises from the Atlantic floor and to the lunchroom of a data center. As is often my wont, I would have preferred a book with more research depth, science history and the like OR a Bryson/Rakoff sardonic take on the question. As it is, it's a little too light for my taste, without the irony that would have made that serviceable.

  • Matt Moyer
    2019-02-12 20:46

    Blum's journey to find the physical presence of the Internet was very enlightening. Our default perception of the infinity of the online world is juxtaposed with the real-world tracing of the tubes that make our world-wide connections. From his own couch to the networking hubs of Palo Alto and MAE-East, onto the worldwide internet exchanges in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and London, under the sea with the tubes connecting continents, or even to the data warehouses in remote rural America, Blum takes us to places we've been but never really known.At times, his wonder sounded forced and his findings harder to place in the context of his premise. Overall, he brings us to the places we take for granted on our travels across the Net and shows us where it all fits together--except for the mysterious data center of Google.

  • Jacob
    2019-01-24 00:45

    This is a mildly interesting idea for a book: the author gets it into his head that he needs to understand the physical structure underlying the Internet and writes a book about his experiences. I understand the basic underpinnings of the Internet in terms of routers, fiber, and data centers, so to me this is much more a travelogue of places the author went and people he met. It's readable and interesting if you like reading or watching about other locations in the world. However, I suspect the author just doesn't understand the abstract nature of computers and what they do. It's ironic given his profession; has the author gotten as interested in the physical structure underlying how books are printed and distributed? The wonder is not so much in how it's done as what you can do with it.

  • Ankit Mittal
    2019-02-11 00:40

    Good introductory book to understand and appreciate what exactly is internet. Not for people who already work in internet related industries.

  • Nooilforpacifists
    2019-02-20 21:24

    Blum tries to define the Internet without a diagram: by description alone. Great writing; flawed concept. But, having been to some of the places he discusses (the carrier "hotel" at 60 Hudson St., NYC, and the cable landing station in Land's End, England), he's vividly accurate.

  • Heather
    2019-01-26 23:36

    A most unique travel book! Gives one a new respect for "cable dawgs""Where telephone wires and cables unite to make neighbors, nations"@ 32 Ave of Americas

  • L-ssar
    2019-02-05 02:40

    ¡Meh!Poco recomendable. No es nada técnico y no se molesta en incluir ninguna imagen ni diagrama. Muy dado a usar citas de literatura que no encajan en un libro así.

  • Camille Chidsey
    2019-02-07 00:38


  • David Collins
    2019-02-06 01:48

    Although I work in information technology, I've never been a hardware enthusiast. In particular, I've never been much interested in gadgets, never been an early adopter of the latest e-thing du jour. Hell, I didn't even get a mobile phone until 2007, and I'm sorely tempted not to replace my current one when it dies.But I loved reading about the finer details of the physical architecture of the Internet (yup, I still capitalize it) in Tubes. Even more, I loved Andrew Blum's descriptions of the people he met on his journey, those who put all the physical components and connections in place.I picked up a hardback of Tubes at a book giveaway hosted by a group of friends who were downsizing their libraries. It looked like an intriguing read, but I didn't pick it up again until several months later, preferring to divert myself with the 1980 German language textbook Deutsch mit Emil, featuring a cartoon frog and his many friends both human and ranine.Minor Spoiler Alert: Blum's title aside, the Internet has multiple centers, not just one. Its most important center is arguably not in Silicon Valley, but in Ashburn, Fairfax County, Virginia, as it was in the early AOL era. Blum visits Ashburn, as well as Internet exchanges in California, New York, Germany, and the Netherlands; undersea cable facilities in England and Portugal; and data centers in the high desert of Oregon (the last and, for me, the most fascinating chapter).The most important information I gleaned from these explorations did not come directly from anything Blum wrote, but from something he implied, intentionally or otherwise. The book was published during the battles over SOPA and PIPA, the legislation that would have overtly killed Net Neutrality and the popular outcry against such bills. In the current round of the struggle to preserve Net Neutrality, the book left me with an appreciation not just of why a free Web is so important, but the stupid router tricks that corporate ISP's might employ to create fast and slow lanes, based on whether and what the content providers are willing and able to pay for speedy delivery.Beyond that, Blum throws in little but dazzling literary feats, like comparing the arcane cabling infrastructure under Manhattan to the apartment tower in J.G. Ballard's 1977 novel High Rise, which I just read a couple of years ago (half-read, actually, because it got too depressing to finish). Writers who can discourse intelligently on both dystopian fiction and cable splicing are brain-candy for me, like having an articulate and knowledgeable customer service agent at a car repair shop. Mr. Blum, I salute you, and I'm gonna give you that fifth star that I almost never give.

  • Mark Lisac
    2019-02-07 01:24

    A brilliant idea — find the physical infrastructure of the Internet and describe what it looks like — gets considerably dulled by weak writing and limited scope. Maybe 60 to 100 pages offer interesting glimpses of bundles of cable and racks of routers in unexpected places. The rest of the verbiage is crammed with voluminous peripheral detail like what kind of sandwiches interview subjects were having for lunch, goofy similes, occasional stretched metaphors, travel writing, uninspired philosophizing, other inane digressions, and self-indulgent records of Blum's personal reactions to what he sees. Much of the infrastructure consists of fibre-optic cable; there's no description of that fibre's history or production method, and only a sentence referring to the discovery that information can be sent along these cables in packets of light. An editor could have posed more questions and requested a look at a draft that eliminated the pronoun "I"; the book reads like Blum was instead encouraged to produce what he did. And he insists on using the benighted construction "a couple …" rather than "a couple of …"However, the book suggests an intriguing possibly irony: what if it was written and edited by and for a generation that learned how to communicate in the Internet age? One wonders what a writer like John McPhee or Michael Lewis would have done with the basically strong subject matter.