Get Wired About Wires

“My cable guy said, ‘There’s your problem. A squirrel is chewing on your Internet.” said Wired writer Andrew Blum at the TED Talk Lecture. As the audience laughed, knowing that the squirrel chewed a cord providing Internet, and not actually the Internet itself, it got Blum thinking as did I, what is the physical aspect of the Internet?
In a technological era the Internet is indeed everywhere. It is used widely around the world and on a variety of mediums such as computers, phones, iPads etc. that a person can physically touch. The point is, the Internet is rarely seen as physical and noted to many as something in the clouds. In all reality, Blum points out there is “tubes,” 5,000-mile-long cables on the ocean floors connecting networks to dozens of buildings, and in hindsight connecting us world-wide in the flash of a second.
After watching Blum speak about his research experiences on “What is the Internet, Anyway?” and listening to his interview with Terry Gross of Fresh Air on NPR, entitled “The Internet: A Series of Tubes,” I started to let my mind wander about the physical aspect of the Internet. It amazes me that while growing up virtually on the Internet, I never thought about what it looked like. In fact, I never even knew there were wires on the ocean floor.
The Internet itself is made up of many parts and pieces; routers, fiber optic cables, modems, coming in and out of buildings in port cities such as New York and Singapore to virtually and physically connect us all. What surprised me was that the Internet is so of age, using “tubes” filled with wires that send signals from one side of the ocean to the other in speeds my mind can’t even comprehend, yet it is so traditional at the same time. Those “tubes” were placed on the floor by the same system in which the telegraph functioned. As Blum pointed out, at the scene there is always the English engineer giving out instructions to locals and immigrants, who handle the hard labor. From there, a ship lays out the wire and a diver cuts each of the buoys holding the rope and watches as the “tubes” sink into their location on the bottom of the ocean floor. The physical Internet might be too hard to comprehend, but the nature in which it is laid out has been used for numerous decades.
“Wired people should know something about wires,” quoted Blum. While learning a few things about wires from Blum I started to compare and contrast his video lecture verses the audio interview. As legacy news has turned viral with the ability to package a story, audio and video all together for the users convenience, I noticed Blum’s lecture was a lot more influential. Both the platforms provided the story, but the lecture was able to provide a face to that story, along with emotion. Since Blum was lecturing instead of doing a Q&A style, the video lecture was half the time then the audio version. From personal experience, if a story lasts more than 10 minutes I will either not even start the video or will find a distraction before it’s over. Therefore, the audio, which lasted 25 minutes was hard to get through, especially with nothing to physically watch. All around I found the most effective presentation of Blum’s teachings was the video lecture. The audio version had the time to explain the physical Internet in more detail, which can be an advantage to a user, but I didn’t have the mental focus to be wired in for that long.

One thought on “Get Wired About Wires

  1. Ellen Mrja says:

    You’re right..different media platforms produce differing results for people. It’s interesting for me to read how the group broke up on this: most of you found the video more informational but the audio more intimate. You are a good, strong writer. Nice work. +10

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