Andrew Blum
Ecco Press/HarperCollins, New York, 2012, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design; Nonfiction, Digital Media Design
6 x 9 inches, hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 9780061994937
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99

From the Publisher. 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.

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Alissa Walker

When I told people I was reading a book on the physicality of the Internet—the colocation centers, undersea cables, and yes, tubes that carry our emails, Facebook statuses, and YouTube videos to our desktops—I usually got a smirk. Under anyone else's guise, Tubes would have been a really dull read. But the witty and engaging Andrew Blum turns this topic into a global adventure, a Verne-esque Journey to the Center of the Internet, if you will, filling the pages not with boring treatises about “packets” and “rack units,” but the plucky personalities who move our data. Plus, in a book that's so much about place, he’s meticulous about setting each scene, noting temperatures, colors and scents—yes, the Internet smells!—with graphic detail, which makes these locations catapult off the page and into your subconscious. Since I’ve read the book, I think about Tubes every day, as I try to look for signs of the Internet as I move through our busy world. I can’t think of another book which has changed my worldview like that. And this book does it in a truly delightful way.

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