Monday, January 23, 2017

Blog 1: A Squirrel Ate My Internet

Andrew Blum's, "Tubes" starts off in the prologue by admitting he hadn't given much thought to where or rather what the internet is. The most tangible think he could heaps onto of what the inner is was the modem with five green lights in his living room that had a couple cables sticking out here and there. When the Internet stopped working in his home because a squirrel had chewed through some exposed wires Blum's journey began to find out what the internet is really made of.

Blum begins his research in Milwaukee, WI where he come to the concluding that the Internet could be imagined in three realms: 1) Logically- electronic signals that "magically" bring internet into our lives. 2) Physically- the wires and machines that we can physically see and 3) Geographically- where the signals reach to. During his research he struggles to imagine the map on which the internet exists because of the numerous webs of connections that one router will reach out to. He visits a building that stores a lot of the Milwaukee's Internet connections. There he sees all of the "tubes" which actually contained fiber-optic cables, glass strands that contains information encoded in pulses of light. This chapter was a little difficult for me to understand from my perspective because I feel that in my life I have only skimmed the surface of what the Internet is and some of the terminology they used went over my head so I am definitely looking forward to expanding my vocabulary that is correlated to the Internet.

In chapter 2 Blum focused more on where the Internet started and tackled the difficult question of who actually invented the Internet? He soon discovered that there are multiple "fathers" of the Internet, but a very substantial one could be found at the University of California - Los Angeles by the name of Leonard Kleinrock. He goes onto visit him and see the location of the first IMP that was founded by the Department of Defense and ultimately grew into something more than just a weapon, but an overtime tool for the average American. The rest of the chapter goes in depth on the importance of the ARPANET project had on the development of the Internet that we know today. Blum also begins to talk about the exciting expansion of user friendly networks and the philosophical shifts that these new communication modes played in the way we connected person to person.

These first couple chapters were honestly a little difficult for me to understand, but also exposed me to many concepts and knowledge about the internet that I had never really explored before. However, these chapters did leave me with some questions:

1. Blum talks a little bit about the trust in other people that the internet requires and even talks about the 2 hour crash of YouTube. At what point do we have to be smart and stop trusting others that they will not hack or crash any websites containing personal information? Our world is so technically based now and what protection do we have? And if there is an "attack" on our personal computers how do we defend ourselves?

2. Another idea that left me a little confused was what is the importance of knowing what the Internet is physically? People seem to do just fine relying on this magically signals, so why bother educating ourselves on how they get to us?

Blum, A. (2012). Tubes: A journey to the center of the internet. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. [Prologue, chapters 1 & 2]

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