February 2013 Archives

Information is Electric

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As someone who get 99% of their news and information in digital format, I completely understand the point that Warnik is making the first three chapters of the book. The rise of user generated content and aggregation sites a la Huffington post has made it very easy to gather the information. Both me and Warnick agree that this is where the focus should be. She writes, "they should consider how the Web's affordances are shaped and applied by users to address social problems"(22). This is where the rubber meets the road for me. There have been plenty of pieces that have delved into many separate aspects of the web and information, but how quickly it has developed and been used to extend the "public sphere" father that ever before is something that I find the most interesting. I consider it this way, the only barrier one has between being a well-informed citizen and a stooge is their access to information. Part of this stems from their want of information, but it goes deeper than that.
As the use of web technology grows, so too will the new media. In fact if you have a camera on your phone I would go as far as to say that you are a budding photo journalist. Go out and take pictures of your environment. The good and the bad. By sharing them with the greater population, something might catch someone's eye and get shared and spread till it becomes and issue and people are educated on that issue. This is the ideal situation that I feel both me and Warnick lean towards where a idealized public both inform and spur themselves to betterment.

Rhetoric Online

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After reading Chapter 1 of Rhetoric Online I really considered boycotting these blogs since according to Castell it isn't real communication and I feel silly wasting my time on fake communication. However, I then considerd that if my college professor is requiring it then it must be real, right?(also I had that whole grade thing to sway me) I thought a lot of what was discussed in the begginning of Rhetoric Online was very condescending. The attitude by many of the rhetoricians discussed was very negative towards most of what occurs on the internet today. They seem to consider anything other then face to face communication not real communication. I disagree. I feel that the world has and is continuing to evolve and they refuse to see that. It seems to me that rhetorical communication is even more widespread then ever before. People are exposed to new and differing viewpoints over and over again through the internet and social media. These are ideas and concepts most of us would never have heard about or been aware of without the internet. They talk about how in the late 19th century and early 20th century very few people voted or were even aware of politics and what was happening in the world at large. This can not be said of the state of affairs now. You hae to almost stick your head in the sand to not know about major events or have some exposure to politics and the viewpoints around you. In my opinion online rhetorics has greatly enhanced and improved the state of communication in our world today.

Internet Politics

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I've found Warnick and Heineman's discussion of how the internet has affected interactivity and discussion in Chapter 3 very interesting. Although it's clear that the internet has had and will have a significant effect on voter awareness and discourse, the numbers cited are still impressive. As Warnick and Heineman put it, "in the 2008 election, 74% of Internet users went online to get involved in the political process"(53). Personally, this was absolutely true for me as well. In the 2012 election, nearly all of my information, particularly about local candidates, came from the internet. Like any new communication technology, the internet has made it even faster and more convenient to get information and discuss opinions. Although this discussion can often be vitriolic and pretty much not worth reading, there are rare gems of quality discussion. Over all, they are a positive influence. I agree with Warnick and Heineman when they conclude "therefore, not only do interactivity and online discussions facilitate communication, they enhance the potential for developing a more informed and attentive electorate"(61). Really, all the internet can do is enhance potential facilitate, it is up to the users to put it to good use.

What really interests me though is the prospect of how pervasive politics might become into every day internet use. We are already seeing more and more political ads, campaign messages, and overall politicizing of the internet. As more people use the internet, and specifically use it for finding political information and discussion, there is more incentive for politicians and ad companies to use the internet as a medium for getting their message out. I can see the attractiveness of enormous amounts of campaign ad funds making the internet a very unsavory billboard. Hopefully campaign funding will encounter further restrictions in the future to prevent this and other problems it causes. Although it's unlikely, an internet dominated by politics is a scary prospect.

Rhetoric Online

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In chapter one of Rhetoric Online: The Politics of New Media, Manual Castell's view of the public sphere as a site of scandal politics is addressed. I agree with Castell that attack politics is used as an influential way to persuade the public's perceptions and beliefs about political candidates and their plans. This form of debate really captures the public's attention and is a shrewd way to get the public to become more engaged. Unfortunately, these scandal measures can be quickly dispersed through the use of the media. I remember learning about the Watergate scandal from 1973 and how it unraveled rampantly due to the media's mass coverage of Richard Nixon's political scandal.
When sharing political information, Castell explains how the internet and "mass self-communication" enabled a new kind of interactive communication to develop that allowed the public to use social networking sites or writing blogs to express their personal opinions and beliefs about political candidates or policies. In addition to the Internet, chapter 2 of this book discusses some of the new advancements that have been made in media technology that was used by campaigners during the 2010 midterm election. Instead of only using the candidate web pages, which decreased in activity regarding political campaigns, candidates were able to use different technology developments such as iPhone applications, Facebook, cyber-squatting, etc. to promote their candidacy. This wide range of new technologies demonstrates how rhetorical persuasion through the use of media is influencing the public's view on politics. On page 41, it was discussed that "rhetorical analysts have that same need to understand how persuasive strategies form the foundation for political change." I agree in that knowing how persuasion works in a digital medium is important for understanding how these different forms of technology still produce discourse in our world, just in a different manner. Being a Facebook user, I have witnessed several members of the website share their personal thoughts and opinions regarding this past year's presidential election. In addition to individuals posting their own messages, other forms of advertisement were posted through images and videos shared over the networking site. I never really thought of reading and observing these posts as a form of persuasion, but it definitely influences user's minds into believing or valuing what they view. I appreciate how with "the growth of new media technology scholars in the discipline have increasingly turned their attention to the importance of the medium itself in shaping how ideas are communicated (p.46)." This is significant in that our society is able to respond and promote rhetorical discourse through use of media technology.

www.Money Ba.ll

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In the middle of chapter 10 (Web of People), Berners-Lee begins to discuss one of the apparent analogies that came about as the result of his HTTP web protocol, domain names. The word "domain" is defined by Dictionary.com as, "the territory governed by a single ruler or government; realm" and stems from the Latin "dominium" meaning the same. This 'realm' is compared to real-world real estate by Berners-Lee. He describes on page 127 how, "Increasingly, everyone realized that short, memorable [URLs] were valuable commodities" as early as 1999 when the book was published. This has led to prices as high as 13 million dollars for popular domain names (source: Forbes.com). Berners-Lee says on the following page that, "One problem is that the better domain names will wind up with the people or companies with the most money, crippling fairness and universality."

The challenge I have for Berners-Lee here is this: Is the mad scramble for these domain names actually worth it? Despite his claim that all of the 'good' URLS will be snatched up by money hungry corporations (though undoubtedly, some have), the web is as thriving as ever before. To circumvent this money grabbing, the phenomenon of buying 'web hacks' has recently appeared. This refers to startup companies, rather than buying an expensive .com domain name, add other suffixes that work into their company name or idea. For example, popular live streaming site Twitch uses Twitch.tv instead of the more costly Twitch.com. Another example of this, hipster-adored Instagram got their start as Instagr.am instead of Instagram.com. In addition to this effect, I visited one of the top money grossers of 2011, Ticket.com. After clocking in at a 1.2 million dollar sale, I decided to make a trip and see if the ludicrous bid was worth it. After trying several different combinations, I was disappointed to find that the web page no longer existed. My observation is that it is possible for the Oakland A's of the world wide web can think outside of the box and win, despite not having the resources to play the game of the Internet Yankees. Despite the fears of Berners-Lee, the escalation of URL costs does have a limit, and doesn't crush the small-ball players of his incredible invention.

Berners-Lee 2

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Unfortunately this book does not get much more exciting for me. Like I said in my post last week it is hard for me to pay attention to all the details when all they talk about in this book is abbreviations.
However, the world wide web takes off! Berners-Lee finally gets this project lauched and people are interested and using his product. At first it is more for people who use the NeXt computers and he tries to get the web more out there for everyone.

The market for this is obviously there and especially when you see the results on the stock market so fast. It is interesting to me that Burners-Lee is not in this for the money and especially after his newspaper mistake it is nice to see how he reacts to the press. This is a guy who is truly interested in his product and how to get it out and available to other people. However, can we believe this? If you think about how much money actually control us these days, I would almost call this man blind for not seeing the potential for making money in this web industry.

Later there is also talk about privacy and "cookies". First of all why would you call it that? I remember the first time I saw that word on my computer I had no clue what they were referring to. However, it has something to do with privacy settings and how the information you are looking at or about you can be transferred to other websites or computers. This is a scary thought, what if you have no idea what this means and then information keeps getting taken from you without being fully aware of it?

Blog Assignment- Week 5
Barners-Lee Ch. 9-12
Group A, 2/20

The World Wide Web finally happens, takes off, catches on, and the innovation curve (under Diffusion of Innovations Theory) proceeds: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards. Means of navigating the Internet for the public unfolded in an interesting manner, and the beginning of Chapter 9 effectively enlightens readers of how it all unfolded. I had no idea.

On page 106, Berners-Lee says, "In one fell swoop, the web had become a major market." The story of Netscape going public first, before Windows95 and its paired browser, is profound. Demand was obviously overwhelming as the cost of one share jumped rapidly from $28 to $71. Astronomical numbers like 38 million shares on the market and Netscape being worth $4.4 billion after one day is impressive. The response was initially greater than I had imaged it was. "IPO" or initial public offering is a term I didn't previously know, but watching Netscape achieve the largest IPO in history surely must have been satisfying for Tim Berners-Lee.

These numbers representing money is significant. The World Wide Web could now be recognized for much more than information and communication. This booming "all the rage" response proved the World Wide Web could symbolize infinite potential and wealth. On page 107, Berners-Lee writes, "Certain people felt that commercially motivated material polluted the Web. I had little time for this point of view. The Web was designed as a universal medium. A hypertext link must be able to point to anything. Information that is put up for commercial gain can't be excluded." I was highly impressed by his acceptance of others being motivated by capital gain although he was not. His perspective is consistent with page 1, "The vision I have for the Web is about anything being potentially connected with anything." True that the commercial world is reality and part of the concept of anything.

Berners-Lee talks about being raised differently than many Americans. There's a painful paradox in our culture: Live your passion and do what makes you happy VS Earn a prosperous living and achieve financial success. I absolutely feel tugs and pressure from both polar ends of these ideals. On page 107, Tim states, "What is maddening is the terrible notion that a person's value depends on how important and financially successful they are, and that that is measure in terms of money." There is a definite communal ethos online where attention and Internet fame (views/responses) creates a sense of success. But it's refreshing to remember that the American belief of money measuring success is not regular or even the norm across the globe.

Question 1: Do you believe Berners-Lee, as an author and speaker, intentionally persuades us to believe he is a likable, honorable, and humble man? After all, his mention of family on page 108 makes me perceive him as utterly selfless, "It can be occasionally frustrating to think about the things my family could have done with a lot of money." His use of rhetoric is impressive in that I have a clear image of what kind of person he is, and this man is likeable. I'd probably vote for him in an election.

Question 2: I've heard that purpose lies at the intersection of passion, potential, and profit. Do you think Tim Berners-Lee, the innovator himself, achieved purpose through his invention of the World Wide Web?

In these later chapters of the book, Berners-Lee starts getting into the privacy part of the World Wide Web. Although he's tried to keep the web completely public and believes everyone should have access to it, there are some parts of the internet that should be private/blocked and personal information should be withheld, at least to certain individuals. In the middle paragraph on p. 126, Berners-Lee explains that we should be able to trust people and that it is an essential part to the Web working at its full potential.

Of course though, we are not able to put our full trust into something or someone we don't know such as a certain website or who's behind a website running it. In chapter 11 on most of p. 145 he goes into talking about "cookies" and linking into a person's computer through a website all possibly with or without a consumer's knowledge. Now days most websites just allow cookies to automatically opt-in a consumer without prior warning. Websites do have privacy policies which are generally supposed to inform you of the data they are collecting from you and if it is being sent anywhere, etc. Because privacy policies are usually extremely long, most people don't either have time to read it over or simply don't want too, which companies know. He also noted that in Europe there are strong regulations over consumer privacy but lack such laws in the United States because the government hopes to have "some sort of self-regulation". This is where trust comes into play. Especially in recent years with the Internet becoming an essential part of daily tasks, people don't have time to look into every website they may be using and make a conscious decision whether or not they can trust them.

It's hard these days to use only websites that you completely trust and understand where all your information is going. It's a harder process to opt-out of giving away personal information than it is to opt-in especially because of cookies. And with the idea of keeping the web as public as possible like Berners-Lee hoped, there will always continue to be a struggle between what should be kept public or private.

It's Up To You

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On p130 Berners-Lee talks about the four layers of the Web's infrastructure. They are the transmission medium, the computer hardware, the software, and the content itself. He argues it is important to keep these layers separate. He gives the example of turning on a TV and having it jump to a particular channel or give better reception to the "right" channel. That is a very insidious idea. But then he then goes on in p131 to talk about how hardware companies are crossing layers. "In 1998 Compaq introduced a keyboard with four special keys: hitting the Search key automatically takes the user to AltaVista." I absolutely love his next line because I feel it is so ridiculous. "Suddenly, where a person searches the Web depends on where he bought his computer." He could not be any more wrong. First of all, no one is forcing you to press that button. I remember having a keyboard with that very same feature, I never pressed it once. Doesn't everyone simple double click your browser and go to the search engine you want? Or better yet have it saved as your homepage. Second, the computer hardware is NOT blocking your access to any other website you want to visit, so his claim that where you search depends on where you buy your computer is totally fraudulent. The best part is at the end of this paragraph he even refutes his own point by stating that these buttons can be customized to point to any search engine the user likes.

This is no different than Microsoft preloading Internet Explorer to open to MSN.com or search Bing.com from its search box. If you don't like those sites or services use ones that you do, you don't even have to use Internet Explorer if you don't like it, Firefox or Chrome is free to use any time. I argue that the Internet is about choices, you have a choice to press that button or not, to use AltaVista or not, or to use the preloaded settings or not. Now if what Berners-Lee was talking about was a computer, operating system, or browser that blocked certain sites or forced people to use only their technology I would have agreed wholeheartedly with him. But the Internet is still as free as it ever has been, and it is up to you to choose how to use it.

This book is a little strange in that fact that sometimes it really shows its age since it was written back in 1999. The Internet back then is not the same as the one we have today so maybe his concern never came fully into fruition. I believe that there is no single entity able to control how all people user or view the Internet. Not back then, not now.

Sam

Weaving The Web

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I am definitely not a computer person, so when Tim Berners- Lee starts talking about HTML, URI, and all sorts of acronyms for how the World Wide Web starts it gets a little confusing to me! Nonetheless he does make some very good points about the wed that I have not yet thought about. He wrote "There seemed to be a perception that creating a browser had a strong potential payback, since it would make information from around the world available to anyone who used it" (Tim Berners-Lee, pg. 57). The word payback really strikes out at me because how can such a tool be used for payback? When I thought about it more; I can totally see what Tim Berners- Lee thinks that way. People who have knowledge have power, and when more and more people become knowledgeable less and less people have power, and that is a threat to those who knew about the browser in the first place. They wanted to keep that power of knowledge. Let's look at the time when Tim Berners-Lee wanted to call one of his creations as universal. "Even though I was asking for only a piece of the Web to be standardized, there was a strong reaction against the "arrogance" of calling something a universal document identifier" (Tim Berners-Lee, pg. 61). He though of the World Wide Web as a universal tool where everyone could use, which it is, so why where the other guys so against it? Again, they wanted to confine the web into a tiny box and basically keep it for him or her self, or how ever much they can have.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is this quote; "Things can get picked up quickly on the Internet, but they can be dropped quickly too" (Tim Berners- Lee, pg. 84). This is a very literal quote because I still to this day find "the new best thing" on the internet, and as soon as something else comes along I quickly move to the next, but is it really a bad thing? We all know we love innovative things. We thrive on what's "the new best thing" these days. That's how the Internet and the World Wide Web and the browser came about! It's because we like change and change is only the first step into the next decade of the World Wide Web.

Blog Post 1

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The first four chapters of Weaving the Web, to me, were about Berners-Lee's idea of mashing together hypertext and the Internet and the struggles he had to go through to get people to notice his idea of an "unbound world" (p.34) He brought us into the world of CERN and the first program, Enquire, that started it all. This is not the typical book I would have chosen to read on my own, but Berners-Lee's persistence and dedication to create the World Wide Web kept me engaged throughout the first part of the book, like I was right there discovering it with him. I like that he writes in a very modest way, even though he is responsible for pretty much creating the technological future, and gives credit to many other scientist in his field, and keeps an informative tone. He sticks to one main goal throughout these chapters. Berners-Lee's main goal in these few chapters was summed up pretty well on page 20, "create a common base for communication while allowing each system to maintain its individuality." It would allow global communication, and essentially equal communication.

While reading Tubes, I felt that there was a lot of computer jargon that became pretty intricate, but while reading Weaving the Web, the technical terms were always backed up with examples that could make the content clear and appealing to a variety of readers. Another distinction I noticed between the two texts was Blum's persistence to find the physicality of the Internet and pin-point it on a map; while Berners-Lee's goal was expanding communication and making it seem more global. Similarly though, they bring our huge technological advancements to the basics, how it all started. I am interested to read how Berners-Lee continues to push through all the doubt, and instill the innovative idea of the internet into others minds, as we see it today.

Weaving the Web

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I'm going to be honest; Weaving the Web to me is not my cup of tea. I am not a computer person nor am I familiar with the different abbreviations and terms. That being said however, I do have to give Berners-Lee credit for having a better flow that Blum had. Unlike Blum, Berners-Lee does not come across as obsessed, he seems knowledgeable and devoted to the creation of the internet.
In the beginning Lee talks about how he received a "Compaq personal computer" and wrote his program Tangle. I thought it was pretty interesting how the program could repeat short easy terms, but once things got difficult as stated on page 13, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?", the computer program couldn't handle it and spit out a never ending sequence. He talks about how even though his program failed; it sparked his interest in the "connective aspect of information."(13)
I think the fact that one person "created" the web is amazing to me, Berners-Lee discusses that he wants to open up the communications between all people and allow them to have access to different things such as different documents and articles. I would have to agree with him that allowing everyone to have access to these items, really allowed for the connection of different information. Allowing people to connect to one another and share things really allowed for people's knowledge base to grow, as well as save time trying to find different documents. Without his vision, we as a class would probably not be posting on this blog, or at least the technology would have been a later development.
In my mind, Berners-Lee was a contributor to Rhetoric, the internet itself is a form a rhetoric. Almost every web page is trying to inform or convince its readers about one aspect or another. There is a never ending stream of information flowing on the internet, and without Berners-Lee, who knows where that would be today.
It will be interesting to see where Berners-Lee takes this book and how he helped this technology to grow into what the internet is today.

Rhetoric and the Internet

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One thing I found interesting about Tim Berners-Lee and from our discussion this morning was Berners-Lee's definition of the dictionary. On page 12, Berners-Lee states, "We think of a dictionary as a repository of meaning, but it defines words only in terms of other words." I think that this is a very good way to describe the meaning of words. Until we took a closer look into at this statement I never thought of the definition of words like that. I completely agree with Berners-Lee and would argue that the connection between words can go further.

I believe that rhetoric is always in use. When people are talking and acting in certain ways rhetoric is at its highest points. For instance, someone could be defining a word or using a metaphor to explain a situation. Another example, to help someone persuade another individual, a story often can help the person relate to the situation.

I think Berners-Lee does a good job describing a similar meaning to the Internet with his dictionary metaphor. I argue that connecting different ideas (rhetoric) is just like the Internet. Each website has rhetoric embedded within it whether its purpose is to educate, make a purchase, or to be informational for the intended audience. Each hypertext link makes the connection to another website creating value. The hypertext is a form of rhetoric trying to convince users to leave a page they are on to go to another. Over time, this web creates a huge connected mess of rhetoric.

It will be interesting to see where the Internet and rhetoric will go from here. I can't wait to learn about the next Tim Berners-Lee, the person that can visualize the next step of the Internet.

Weaving the web blog 1

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For this blog post I am going to be completely honest about this book. I did not enjoy reading it and was struggling to process all the information. Don't get me wrong, the guy (Tim Berners-Lee) is a smart fellow and I do understand the impact he has had on the computer history as well as our own human/internet perception. However, the book to me just has a million abbreviations and as a non-computer person it was hard to pay attention. Here are some examples: CERN, VAX, RPC, TCP, IP, VMS, HTML, HTTP, FTPSGML, URI and the list keeps going. If it wasn't for this specific class I would most likely never have read this book. I do apologize for those of you that really like this book, but I am simply not that person.
I did like how people understand this book though and how they can see the same as the author. It is interesting to think that computer information can be somewhat the same of a human brain, by comparing the two. I don't think (and hope) that a computer will ever be so advanced that it would work exactly like the human brain, but do appreciate the opinion some of you had by saying they both have some sort of "web" function. The human brain = a tangled mess of information and a computer = has folders and files that have a more controlled web when it comes to finding certain folders.
The first test Mr. Tim does on his so-called Tangle in this book was asking the program a question (p. 13); how much wood would a woodchuck chuck? He claims that the programs thinks for a bit and gives him an answer that was the same as the question. Unfortunately this was just a mirrored answer and not really showing that the program (Tangle) was thinking on it's own or that it had a good way of sorting out the answer based on the information given. This was the end of Tangle, but the beginning of Tim's "desire to represent the connective aspect of information.
I guess it is interesting and impressive that this one person created the web, but it took him a long time to convince his co-workers and also people around him that this was truly an amazing idea. I might be the person that doesn't appreciate all this work behind the scenes yet, but I am impressed that one person came up with "the web".

A Glorious Wreck

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The Internet is great in practice, but rather weak in theory. I am simultaneously one of the Web's more passionate advocates and one of its most jeering skeptics. How can something this patched together with the proverbial glue and duct tape be so wonderful? How can one of the wonders of the modern world be built upon such an aging, vulnerable and inconsistent foundation?

I think it's extremely interesting that some of the fundamentals that make the Web work were conceived of decades before Tim Berners-Lee came along. What we often see as futuristic, complex concepts that define the Millennial Generation actually reach back decades before we were born, even before Generation X.

Douglas Engelbart invented the first modern mouse out of wood in the late 1960s (Berners-Lee, p. 6). Without it, not only would personal computers be more difficult to use, the Web's usability would also be hindered. Ted Nelson's hypertext concept and Project Xanadu dated back to the same decade (Berners-Lee, p. 5). Hypertext is the essential component of linking websites to each other in non-sequential ways. Without it, there likely wouldn't be a Web. Even the Internet itself saw its origins in 1960s government research. Berners-Lee took these technologies and forged the protocols and languages to force them to communicate.

While these ideas are resilient, they're aging. Some of the thinking that went into the Internet has proved to be short-sighted. IPv4 was just one of the cliffs the Internet and the Web faced. Then there's Blum's "tubes." While the Internet enjoys a nearly spiritual reputation among its evangelists, with data stored in some heavenly "cloud," it's in reality built upon an increasingly imperfect tangle of patch cables and routers; tubes of varying length, capacity and quality.

The topography of the Internet is full of peaks and valleys crisscrossed with superhighways and narrow, winding back roads depending upon where the user lives. But the external structure of that world is built upon a dangerous and unpredictable global landscape where earthquakes can sever the connections of whole continents and throw a society's operating functions into a tailspin, as happened in the Luzon Strait in 2006. (Blum) There are multiple other weak points, like those presented by the "Chicago problem" and other cities that are routing far too much web traffic without feasible redundancy. (Blum p. 109-110)

Even the standards governing Berners-Lee greatest contributions to the web, including HTML, are haphazardly adhered to. The vast variety of different websites spanning the Internet vary not only in aesthetic value and usability, but in how they're coded. They're full of glitches and non-standard coding practices, causing them to malfunction depending upon which of the dozens of different web browsers one might use to access them, which themselves don't seem to follow any sort of consistent functionality.

The Internet is a contradiction, simultaneously resilient and reliable even while its bandwidth, resources and infrastructure groan under the strain of a rapidly-connecting global population. It's a glorious wreck, perhaps best compared to the TARDIS of "Doctor Who" fame: that rickety, oft-malfunctioning wooden phonebox is actually bigger on the inside, housing a vast and wonderful interior controlled by a pseudo-sentient spirit delivering its passengers through time and space.

Weaving the Web Blog.

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In the first 4 chapters of "Weaving the Web", Berners-Lee gives an alternate , albeit accuarate perspective of how the internet was born. He talks about specific parts, like the WorldWideWeb, the http protocol, and URL's. Personally, I like how this book is starting , relative to how Blum started out his book. Firstly, Berners-Lee is giving a personal narrative, which frankly makes him a more credible author, not to say that Blum should not be trusted. Its just nice to hear it from the inventor himself. Secondly, and this is completely my personal opinion, not something I'm trying to convince you of, but I always thought that Blum's sense of mysticism about the internet was misplaced. I just really found it tedious to follow Blum's train of thought as he was reflecting on the internet: past his double-negatives, and saying something, then challenging its base assumption. I just felt he got nowhere a lot of the times. A good example of that is "The internet is everywhere, but nowhere". Now, again, I have no problem with undefined problems or things that might come out from a stereotypical psychedelic hippie, I've just never thought about it that way , (I'm a CompSci major). But that's really just me.
But going back to Berners-Lee, I also thought it was aprapos that a few of the pieces that make up the internet were made in CERN, which has been on the forefront of physics. When the people in CERN thought it might be better for him to write that phone directory software in each of the computers instead of putting it out on the web, I was a little shocked. I mean sure, it was just 1990 or something, but it was just a little hard for me to visualize people having a choice between the internet and the way things were, and then PICKING the old way. I guess I thought the internet was accepted instantly after it was born.

How Much Does Data Sleep?

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Blum's excursion to the Dalles in "Where Data Sleeps" made the clearest connection between the internet and the physical world. Through his explanation of how geography has played a pivotal role in determining where the data we chose not to store locally rests. Blum writes, "It used to be that we kept our data on our (actual) desks, but as we've increasingly given up that local control to far-off professionals, the "hard drive"-that most tangible of descriptors- has transformed into a "cloud," the catchall term for any data or service kept out there, somewhere on the Internet." It is known that when you choose to or are forced by a service to store your data "somewhere on the Internet" that you likely give the holder of your information some right to use your information. A simple example of this behavior is in the Instagram privacy policy, "We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of, or that become part of that group." Considering that many services operate on policies like this our data is probably not resting as much as we think. Our data or at least a copy of it is being analyzed as an admission fee to the "cloud."

I thought of a more fitting analogy for data centers after reading the final chapter of "Tubes." Blum's repeated statement that our data "sleeps" at centers like the Dalles portrays an environment too static to be the internet. Data centers are more like large corporate reservoirs in a network of interconnected pumped-storage hydroelectric batteries. As data is called upon by a user it flows through the network like water down the incline, into other stations, and finally to the user. I think this analogy accounts for the sometimes fluid nature of our data that is stored in data centers.

It's the people, stupid

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Blum's wonder filled writing style does interesting things for different parts of his book. When he is handling something that his intended audience would probably also find interesting, like the people handling the "tubes", it works out quite well. On the opposite side, when he wanders into more technical terms like describing the size and shapes of server racks it tends to drag. The first subject, the people, is really the important theme to me in these chapters, and the book so far. From the basis of the network effect to the actual people working on the fiber optics, it's the people that make the internet. An example that pops into my head is the massive amount of fiber optic cabling that was laid during the dot com boom that now is considered "dark cable" because no one uses it. All of the "tubes" that Blum holds sacred mean nothing now because the people to give them life are not there. One of the other parts that I want to comment on was already hit on by another poster was Google. I knew that Google is really protective of its data, but I Blum might have made a mistake. I thought it was weird that they're data centers would be blacked off of Google Maps and Earth, considering the dust-up they had with Apple over transparency. So I checked, and I could find things labeled Google data centers, but I don't know if they are the data centers in question, or if someone in the public relations department jumped on it and. I guess what I am trying to get at is that all of this technology is just a frame work for the people using it. The tubes are only relevant if someone is using them much as the content of Google Earth is depending on the person regulating that.

Tubes, Blog Entry

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In no way have I thought to try and visit the Internet in its physical realm. What Andrew Blum was accomplishing in this book is extremely unusual and demonstrates the Internet from a perspective I have never considered. In my eyes, I've always believed that the Internet is unable to be seen. Nevertheless, when Blum explains, "The Internet is everywhere; the Internet is nowhere. But indubitably, as invisible as the logical might seem, its physical counterpart is always there," this statement helped me to understand that the Internet really does have a physical component that exists in several places. Although this is an interesting point, throughout the entire book, Blum is on a continuous exploration of something that, in my opinion, doesn't really call for an immense amount of inspiration and awe. At this age and time, I feel that we are aware of all the advancements made in technology and how there is a reality in that scientific research has come to develop these astonishing and complex technologies. The fact that the Internet is untouchable and appears to be out in "space" is what makes it extremely fascinating. I argue that Blum is mistaken about his statement for wanting to see the Internet's most significant places. The depth and profoundness of the Internet is what makes it so significant. Even though Blum longed to travel and make out where the Internet was geographically, I feel that portion of the Internet is meaningless in comparison to the Internet's concealed capacity. In spite of that, I appreciate how Blum goes into detail about the challenges of internetworking and seeing the effects of how the Internet moves. Learning about the exchanging points and how different hubs interconnect around the world is rather interesting. All these different aspects of the Internet are what makes it so intriguing, and illustrates just how powerful and vast the Internet actually is.

Joining Continents

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Chapter 6: The Longest Tubes in Blum earned my simultaneous love and hate. I regularly listen to technology podcasts, and one of my favorites was a description of the joining of a trans-ocean cable. I figured Blum would eventually witness this happening, so I was waiting for when it would come up. When Cooper told Blum on pg 201 that they might have a new cable landing, I was thrilled. For me, the 16 pages between this and when Blum receives the news that there is a landing he can come see were agonizing. While the description of the cable station with Paling was interesting, it was not what intrigued me. What gripped me was visualizing being there, watching the connection between continents be formed. My favorite moment of Blum so far is his description of the diver cutting buoys, watching them fly away, getting "a few cookies and a glass of juice", and returning to shore exhausted. Imagining being there as a single person cuts the ties and buries the physical connection between continents fascinates me. Right after comes my next favorite description from Blum, the men readying the cable for the actual connection to land. The fact that they go at it with hacksaws to uncover the fiber, and then the eight strands of fiber are connected individually blows my mind. All the work, time, and effort put in to mapping the ocean floor, optimizing the route, building the cable, and organizing the project comes down to two guys with hacksaws attacking a cable.
Chapter 6 really embodied perfectly the best and worst thing about Blum, his descriptiveness. Blum has a very serious double-edged sword relationship with descriptions. When it was something I cared less about, like the cable station, each adjective and off-topic note was agonizingly unnecessary. But, when it came to something that really held my interest, Blum's descriptions were perfect. With how Blum describes Carrilho and him gulping down espresso and beer on an open tab, or how the diver came out of the water with his chest heaving and eyes wide, you can actually picture yourself there, watching this amazing moment of the joining of continents.

Super Secret Internet Stuff

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Initially when I was reading chapter 7 in Blum I was torn. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to react to how these websites and their super secret data centers work or don't work since at least in the instance of Google we have no idea. I was pretty put off about the way Google acted in Blum's interview and how they would give no straight answer or explain anything. Part of me thought hey I'm an American and if they have information on me or any of my stored data then they should be giving me full disclosure as well as access to it. But then the duality of the American culture kicked in and I had the reaction "good for you Google" that information is mine and it is personal and private and no one but me should have access too or even know that that information exists. That goes for everyones data and so if that means no one gets access to the data center in order to keep my information private then so be it. Once this reaction occured I was then a little put off for the opposite reason once Blum got to Facebook where there didn't seem to be any secrets and if Blum had asked to have access to private files they would have said sure no problem we'll e-mail them to you. This shouldn't have surprised me, Facebook prides itself on it's openness and free unhindered access to information for everyone. This is one reason I personally use facebook very sparingly, maybe I am just too private of a person for all this openness and sharing of all the mundane issues of my life which in the wrong hands could potentially be used against me.

So after really considering the issue I am going to have to side with Google on this one. I feel that there are certain things that we don't need to know or have access to in order to protect the greater good. Google is a company charged with keeping its users and their information safe from outside individuals who would just love to have access to and exploit that data. The only thing I would have liked to have seen them do was just come out and say that to Blum. By restricting his access they aren't doing anything wrong in fact they were doing it right they shouldn't have felt the need to be secrative about the fact that they were being secrative. If they had been open about the fact that they couldn't give Blum full access because the privacy of their users was more important then they wouldn't have come off as if they were trying hide the data instead of protecting it. I also came away with the feeling that maybe if Facebook was a little less forthright with information then I would feel safer and more willing to use their site more.

Andrew Blum spends an awful lot of time being amazed by the wrong things.

In his extremely detailed, often plodding text, author Andrew Blum of the book "Tubes" spends the majority of his time musing in old-fashioned amazement. The short text on the technological growth and physicality of the seemingly ephemeral internet discusses most of the major technological advancements, including networks, fiber optics, and the massive data centers that comprise the world-wide-web. Blum argues through these chapters that the most amazing part of the internet is the rapid growth of the technology and hardware surrounding the project, stating specifically that a data center he visited was, "Cyberiffic." In fact, for the majority of chapter 7, Blum discusses the absolute marvel of laying fiber optic cable along the ocean floor, despite the first instance of laying cable across the pond occurring in early 1858. Though he touches on it in chapter 4 when he discusses the bi-annual meeting of NANOG, I find it unfortunately apparent that Blum has let the most amazing part of the internet slip right under his nose.
The point that I argue Blum missed was that the true wonder of the internet is in the cooperation necessary to create such an achievement. He spent unfortunately few words describing how humanity came together and created something truly awesome on its own accord. The atmosphere of sharing, connecting, and exploration that is made by the internet is replicated on very few places on planet earth, and certainly not on a scale such as this. He reflects on this shortly in chapter 4, stating "Yet looked at from within, the Internet is handmade, one link at a time", but the train of thought stops there. To me, this cooperation factor is more amazing than any system of tubes will ever be.

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