The year's most original and stimulating 'travel' book ... utterly engrossing ... really does make the world more legible ... even the most geek-wary of readers will enjoy Independent, Book of the Week Excels at rooting the internet in real-world locations ... Full of memorable images that make the internet's complex architecture easier to comprehend ... entertaining and illuminating Guardian All too awesome to behold. Andrew Blum's fascinating book demystifies the earthly geography of this most ethereal terra incognita -- Joshua Foer, Author Of Moonwalking With Einstein Compelling and profound. You will never open an e-mail in quite the same way again -- Tom Vanderbilt, Author Of The New York Times Bestseller Traffic An engaging reminder that, cyber-Utopianism aside, the internet is as much a thing of flesh and steel as any industrial-age lumber mill or factory ... It is also an excellent introduction to the nuts and bolts of how exactly it all works Economist Makes hard-to-grasp concepts easy to understand, even obvious. The history, in particular, is one of the best and most memorable I have ever read New Scientist A Quixotic and winning book ... with a knack for bundling packets of data into memorable observations ... This valuable book leaves you with its share of unsettling visions, but there are comic ones too The New York Times A great, playful, wondrous read ArsTechnica One of our best writers ... a compelling story of an altogether new realm where the virtual world meets the physical -- Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-Winning New Yorker Critic In this thrilling adventure book, Blum takes us inside the infrastructure -- Jonah Lehrer For a full understanding of the Internet on every level, this book is a must-read Techzone At once funny, prosaic, sinister and wise, Blum's tale is a beautifully written account of the true human cost of all our remote connectivity -- Bella Bathurst, Author Of The Lighthouse Stevensons With infectious wonder, Andrew Blum introduces us to the Internet's geeky wizards and takes us on an amiably guided tour of the world they've created ... the Internet that Blum's beautifully lucid prose makes real turns out to be if anything a more marvelous place than the cloudy dreamland we'd imagined -- Donovan Hohn, Author Of Moby Duck
From the Back Cover
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 ten-thousand-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 bestseller 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.