The variety of connections throughout the Internet- Blog Week 2

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Before this book I never really put much thought into how physical the Internet really is. As naive as that may be, growing up in a world that has always been connected and information has been extremely accessible whether by your portable laptop, iPod music device or smart phone, I've never had to think about it much. As Blum states, the Internet is a "tangible" object (which he commonly uses to describe the Internet throughout the book), and finding out where it comes from and to understand how it all fits together was his main purpose through Tubes. I believe he does a good job at showing the geography and many different pieces and people that connect throughout the world in order to create the Internet.
Although the Internet works because of fiber-optic tubes, routers, and a variety of connection hubs throughout the world, the Internet truly wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the people. It took people years to realize in order to create a system to connect everyone around the world, every network would need to come together to connect and to make a better Internet. Behind all of these physical connections are also the connections of different companies and people, all working together.
On p. 102 Blum said, "There are different kinds of connection. There are the connections between people, the million kinds of love. There are the connections between computers, expressed in algorithms and protocols. But this was the Internet's connection to the earth, the seam between the global brain and the geologic crust". I personally thought it was a good description of how everything works together. From the people, to the more electric and "virtual connections", to the actual physical piece which is the earth, without one of those pieces, the Internet couldn't exist.


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The reality that the "fiber-optic tubes, routers, and a variety of connection hubs" were manufactured by real humans in the real physical workplace is important because this non-physical "Internet" that has become about ideas, communication, knowledge, scientific progress, relaxing, enjoyment, sharing, and being in the intellectual world is possible only because of physical labor. Obvious/simple, but important to note. Blum uses discovering more about Internet as a motivation to explore the physical world, so the connection between the two is fascinating.

True, the internet could not exist without humans working on the physical aspect of it.
It seems like Blum is intrigued to find out how the internet and the real/physical world is connected. I also see how he is confused and really want to explore where it all started and how it actually does work in the real world.
Back in the day we would send letters or postcards to people, just to stay in touch. We could see where the information had travelled when we received it, but with emails and chatting online, we never see where the information travels before it ends up on your screen. I like this about Blum’s book because it's most likely an impossible question to get an answer to.

I agree with you guys. We hardly think much about the internet. It is quite intriguing the way Blum describes the connection of the internet. He almost makes the connection of the internet to the world as an intimate and interwined relationship that is very essential and that is something that I have never thought about. In addition, he puts forth the idea that the internet is a physical space that is not very obvious to the rest of the world. He states... "The landscapes of the internet , it was confluence of mighty rivers, the entrance to grand harbor. But there are no lighthouse or marker . It was all underground, still and dark- alhtough made of light (pg 102)". The use of landscape and rivers to describe the physical aspect of the internet while stating that it is a dark place with no sense of directional guide is quite interesting but rather confusing. The main point that the author was trying to convey in this chapter was to find the main way the internet was connected but it seems that answer is rather difficult to answer in one way.

havik004, you wrote: "with emails and chatting online, we never see where the information travels... it's most likely an impossible question to get an answer to."

I just wanted to say that you can track an email just as easy as tracking a UPS package. For example, Gmail has an option called "Show Original" which lets you see the IP address of the sender. Simply use a Windows command called tracert (trace route) and enter that IP and you will instantly see the names and IP addresses of all the switches and routers and hubs that packets of information needs to pass through to reach that sender's location from you.
Its all pretty crazy, but it is possible.

That is very true barri084!
I think I just never thought of it that way, even though I know every computer has their own IP address... Not sure why I did not think about this before, but you are completely right.

Maybe I was just thinking that most people don't take the time to do this or think of it at all. Could you trace an email from just the computer location where the email was sent? Or will you actually be able to see the map of where it came from?

Its pretty scary but with an IP address and some kind of Geo IP Table you can see, almost exactly, where that IP address is from.

Check out as an example.


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This page contains a single entry by gacek006 published on January 30, 2013 5:17 PM.

Tubes and first blog entry! was the previous entry in this blog.

Reflection on 'Tubes' by Andrew Blum is the next entry in this blog.

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