Reflection on 'Tubes' by Andrew Blum

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There is a distinct difference between the physical world and the Internet. That difference should be honored. It is strange that uncovering the 'real, concrete, and verifiable' Internet fascinates Andrew Blum, but I realize that his inspiration to visit these real-world places and spaces is valuable to him only because he is enjoying the physical world in the process, which is a sacred part of life we must protect.

Blum asks, "I longed to see its most significant places, but were its places really places at all?" (p. 38) The 'places of the internet' that enable it to function are not significant because the places do not hold all the Information; there is no meaning there. The tubes, light, broken packets of info, wires, satellites, And the Internet is about ideas, communication, knowledge, scientific progress, relaxing enjoyment, sharing, and being in the intellectual world.

"It's about you and me talking." (p. 49) Yes it is, and this communicative and social aspect of the Internet is endlessly valuable. But recognize that talking using the Internet is painfully void of body language, real facial expressions (emoji can only do so much), vocal intonation, 'uhhms' and pauses, the endearing brush of an arm, the fresh scent of the speakers gum or ugly morning breath, sense the essence of their aura, see their tears, hear their laugh... communication using different Internet media is inferior to interpersonal speaking and engaging in the physical spaces around us together.

So since Blum is motivated to understand the Internet through his unique "Tubes" lens, I get why the visit described in Chapter 2 was so valuable to him. On page 46, Blum describes the Google image of Boelter Hall "where the Internet had once been fully containable" as not being enough. He wanted to visit the place and meet Kleinrock in the physical world. "I could have reached him on the phone, we could have video-chatted." (p. 46) His desire to go shake his hand is a perfect example of how we experience our passions fully in the real-life physical world.

"I had set out in search of the real, the concrete, the verifiable, but I was greeted at the door by the historiographic equivalent of a comments thread." (p. 36) The way the Internet operates, especially in terms of person-to-person communication and group collaboration, is so different than in real time and space. The physical world is irreplaceable and more magical than the Internet, always.

[Side end note:] As a student pursuing a professional Public Relations career, it's very true that sitting (or standing as I sometimes prefer) at a screen is totally necessary and genuinely productive. I love the seemingly infinite benefits offered by the Mother of All Media: Internet. But I also hate it. What do I DO while sitting at various screens for often far too long? Attend to and manage emails, complete assignments, research interests, fulfill work responsibilities, apply for things, plan for my future, reach out to friends... But know what is most valuable? Getting to use the Internet to find new ways to go BE in the physical world. The real world.
Like right now. I used Google search to double check the schedule at my favorite yoga studio. I am a passionate yogi, and practicing yoga is one of many awesome ways to enjoy movement and the physical realm. So did the internet just enable me to make better use of the physical world? Are they connected in that way? I stand by that there is a distinct difference between the two worlds, but not always a distinct separation.


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First of all... Wow! What a great post!

It is so interesting to see how you long for a real word, but still respect the internet world as well. And I would agree with the last statement: "there is a distinct difference between the two worlds, but not always a distinct separation." This is very interesting to me, because I use to live in a cyber world for a year and a half, while pursuing a long distance relationship. I was addicted to the computer and if we weren't talking I would randomly search for facts or questions online or do my homework while skype was on.
However, it never occurred to me that all the information I searched for or us talking had to be sent somewhere specific.

However we do need physical interaction with people. Yes, it's fun how I can talk to people in Norway while being here or anywhere else for that matter, but we need to actually talk and touch people. I am not a fan of all new technology, and now I am talking about robots taking the place of humans. This is too much for anyone to handle and I don't agree with the science behind it.

So how can we distinguish between the two worlds? Will it all eventually be through the internet? Will there be actual physical jobs for everyone in a couple of years? Or will it all be through the internet?

I think that you raise good questions about the connect or rather the distinguish of the two worlds- one of the internet and one of the physical world. From my understanding it is quite difficult to make a complete disassociate between the two considering on how much we reply on the technological world. We use GPS for directions, social networks such as facebook and of course online games that allow us to pretend to be part of another world through creating our own characters, land and space to live any life that we want to but essentially all these things make us more depend on the world of cyberspace. I would think that many years from now, the internet will have much more impact on our daily lives as it does now because our dependency of cyberspace is only increasing.

Very interesting comments about the need for a physical world. I agree that spending so much time online makes me really relish my time not typing and staring at screens. That's why I like to take notes on paper. BUt then I run into the inefficiency of paper and find myself back on Evernote.

Thanks for the feedback everyone! As I take notes during a lecture in evernote to supplement the powerpoint, I feel disruptive and annoying because of the subtle noise the keypad on my laptop makes. It makes me think, "Wow, I really need an iPad." Even though it's the social norm in this class's environment to be typing.
But when I am entirely mindful and present while sitting at my laptop screen typing, the feeling of the keys on my fingertips, that little bump on the "f" key and the "j" key, and the sound of the keys clicking in time with my typing pace are the few physical sensations I get to experience immersed in the Internet and technology.

And as technology and our modes of accessing the Internet progress from laptops to tablets to iPads, even power steering to automatic steering, rotary dial phones (skip a few phases) to iPhones... physical stimulation seems to decrease forcing us deeper into the screened-in realm leaving behind the physical realm. This does put more value on Blum's idea with Tubes to me.

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This page contains a single entry by jack0662 published on January 30, 2013 5:22 PM.

The variety of connections throughout the Internet- Blog Week 2 was the previous entry in this blog.

Let's Hope He Doesn't Find Out About WiFi is the next entry in this blog.

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