Twenty-five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, 20 million people worldwide are surfing the Net....
Best-selling author P. W. Singer and noted cyberexpert Allan Friedman team up to provide the kind of deeply informative resource book that has been missing on a crucial issue of 21st-century life....
A secret history of the industrial wars behind the rise and fall of the twentieth century's great information empires....
Americana takes us on a 400-year journey of the spirit of innovation and ambition through a series of Next Big Things....
No single invention of the last half century has changed the way we live now as much as the Internet....
Steven Levy's classic book traces the exploits of the computer revolution's original hackers - those brilliant and eccentric nerds from the late 1950s through the early '80s who took risks....
Michael Lewis returns to the financial world to give listeners a ringside seat as the biggest news story in years prepares to hit Wall Street....
The previously untold - and previously highly classified - story of the conflux of espionage and technology, a compelling narrative rich with astonishing revelations....
The Shadow Factory is about a world unseen by Americans without the highest security clearances, a world in which even their most intimate whispers are no longer private....
Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant....
In mid-2015, Volkswagen proudly reached its goal of surpassing Toyota as the world's largest automaker....
We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia....
A New York Times technology and business reporter charts the dramatic rise of Bitcoin and the fascinating personalities who are striving to create a new global money....
Kaplan probes the inner corridors of the National Security Agency, the beyond-top-secret cyber units in the Pentagon, the "information warfare" squads of the military services....
From the reporter who was there at the very beginning comes the revealing inside story of the partnership between Steve Bannon and Donald Trump....
An international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change....
A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems....
In this audiobook, machine learning expert Ethem Alpaydin offers a concise overview of the subject for the general listener, describing its evolution, explaining important learning algorithms....
When your Internet cable leaves your living room, where does it go? Almost everything about our day-to-day lives - and the broader scheme of human culture - can be found on the Internet. But what is it physically? And where is it really? Our mental map of the network is as blank as the map of the ocean that Columbus carried on his first Atlantic voyage. The Internet, its material nuts and bolts, is an unexplored territory. Until now.
In Tubes, journalist Andrew Blum goes inside the Internet's physical infrastructure and flips on the lights, revealing an utterly fresh look at the online world we think we know. It is a shockingly tactile realm of unmarked compounds, populated by a special caste of engineer who pieces together our networks by hand; where glass fibers pulse with light and creaky telegraph buildings, tortuously rewired, become communication hubs once again. From the room in Los Angeles where the Internet first flickered to life to the caverns beneath Manhattan where new fiber-optic cable is buried; from the coast of Portugal, where a 10,000 mile undersea cable just two thumbs wide connects Europe and Africa to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have built monumental data centers, Blum chronicles the dramatic story of the Internet's development, explains how it all works, and takes the first-ever in-depth look inside its hidden monuments.
This is a book about real places on the map: their sounds and smells, their storied pasts, their physical details, and the people who live there. For all the talk of the "placelessness" of our digital age, the Internet is as fixed in real, physical spaces as the railroad or telephone. You can map it and touch it, and you can visit it. Is the Internet in fact "a series of tubes" as Ted Stevens, the late senator from Alaska, once famously described it? How can we know the Internet's possibilities if we don't know its parts?
Like Tracy Kidder's classic The Soul of a New Machine or Tom Vanderbilt's recent best seller Traffic, Tubes combines on-the-ground reporting and lucid explanation into an engaging, mind-bending narrative to help us understand the physical world that underlies our digital lives.
The author has turned what is the most important, complex and useful structure of our times, the internet, into a boring and dull book. He is a shining example of my most authors should not read their own material. He reads in a monotone with no vocal variety to make his subject marginally interesting. If you are prone to sleep while driving do not listen to this book in the car. You may get in an accident.
Make no mistake the material could make a fascinating book, just not this one. The author tells of the first communication between two people over the fledgling internet. It should have all the drama of the first words between Bell and Watson but unfortunately it does not. This is described in the same dull manner that the author describes the journey to the various iconic internet places and buildings. The train, countryside, streets, signs and other tiny, inconsequential details are minutely described.
The book, actually, could be mislabeled. For those interested in narrative travelogues it could be a very good listen, but then they probably are not looking for a technical book about the workings of the internet. And those looking for a nuts and bolts book on how the parts of something as vast as the internet fits together into its whole are not looking for a travelogue description of it. That is the problem with this book. It is trying to appeal to two very different audiences and winds up appealing to none.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
The material structure of the internet is a fascinating topic on many levels, from the environmental to the sociological, architectural, and philosophical. The sheer impact on world commodities and labor, the acceleration of disposable parts, and the massive amounts of energy drawn by server farms... all these belie such ethereal metaphors as "the cloud," our popular sense of speed and lightness. (I read somewhere, not in this book, that China is building half a dozen new nuclear power plants mainly to cool server farms.) In addition, the physicality of the internet begs analysis in many venerable philosophical traditions, from a Marxist framing of "superstructure and base" to the ancient questions of mind-body paradox (of which the net seems a vast embodiment). Unfortunately, the author barely touches on these issues. His approach is first-person narrative journalism and the romantically descriptive travelogue, closer in tone to Isabella Bird than critical theory. He visits several historically important sites in the development of the net, describes in colorful detail people he meets and places he sees, then describes his descriptions, no possible metaphor spared. To be fair, he is a good writer, intelligent observer, and does a very good job of reading his own book. On his own terms, he produces a good piece of narrative writing. There are a few good details, like the fact that Google data centers are blurred out on Google maps--shades of Foucault's panopticon! But the level of visual description is swooningly pre-photographic, perhaps a writer's reaction to digital hegemony, but perversely unsuitable to the subject. Those who like descriptive travelogues may enjoy the book. If so, I hope they will write in with more positive reviews. It is hard work to write a book, and some people are bound to like this one. I found it over-described and woefully under-theorized, and it left me still looking for a good book on the obscure materiality of the internet.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Tubes to be better than the print version?
I've only experienced this title in audio, but it was easy to listen to and a good quick listen at that.
What did you like best about this story?
I was working at Equinix at the time, a company that is featured to a good degree in this book, and it was really cool to learn more about the history/current state of affairs when it comes to IT infrastructure.
Which character – as performed by Andrew Blum – was your favorite?
This is non-fiction, not really any characters to speak of
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
A documentary on what keeps us connected
Any additional comments?
I think it's important to have an understanding of this subject matter to at least some degree. This is a good primer.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
If it had contained more substantive information about the Internet and whole, whole lot less introspective rumination by the author about how he felt about novels he has read and what the weather was like on the day he took a train which passed through New Jersey ("a clear gray sky"???).
Has Tubes turned you off from other books in this genre?
It would had done so if I actually knew what genre this book fit into. "Wandering Self-absorbed Introspective Nothingness"?
Would you be willing to try another one of Andrew Blum’s performances?
Never, never, never.
What character would you cut from Tubes?
Any additional comments?
It really makes me feel bad to have to write a review like this, but this book should never have been written, published, or read aloud. I literally feel cheated.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is great for a technical layman that is interested in learning a condensed history of the internet. If you are already familiar with the basic components & history of networking and the internet it may also be useful as you get to see through the eyes of a layman discovering the physical nodes that make-up the system. I wish that the author had an additional chapter, however, giving a brief summary describing the theoretical futures of the internet. Specifically, how applied quantum physics may one day replace fiber optics and how bringing fast & reliable connections to developing nations can and will change the world as we know it.
What made the experience of listening to Tubes the most enjoyable?
Andrew Blum narrated it so the intended tone of the writing came through exceptionally well. His writing style is unexpectedly immersive, describing sights, sounds, and smells as only a true story teller could. Very well done.
Even though I work for an Internet Service Provider, there were aspects of the inner workings of the Internet that I didn't understand. This book shed some light on some of those grey areas. The book is not very technical in nature, though it can be slow at times. I would recommend the book for anyone who is curious about how one of the most important parts of modern society.
if you've ever wondered how planes stay up in the air or how "the internet" actually works this book is for you - not that it talks about planes but because you seem like the type of person who has a curious mind. despite the fact that there is a lot of engineering in this book it is easily understandable to the layman.
Great narration by the author. The history, future, and human connection I did not expect from this book were the very best parts.
If you could sum up Tubes in three words, what would they be?
Understand The Internet
What did you like best about this story?
Andrew Blum's curiosity evolved into an intriguing tale about the history and physical infrastructure of the internet. It's a must read for anyone in the IT infrastructure business and a great understanding for non-techies.
What about Andrew Blum’s performance did you like?
I really like how Blum personalized the story with character development of the architects, builders and maintainers of the internet giving it a human feel and spirit.