Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet (2012) by Andrew Blum looks at the physical manifestation of the internet, that is the cables, interconnects and data centres that create the internet. The history of the internet is also briefly examined.
Blum is a journalist who writes for Wired and the book has the style of a Wired article. Blum starts off with problems on his home connection connection and then starts looking at where the wires actually run and how the internet works.

Blum is a good writer and has a reasonably interesting subject. He makes good points about how we now take for granted an amazing technological creation that enables us to look at videos from any connected part of the planet. He points out how most of us have very little knowledge of how it all works.

The descriptions of the places and people where cables come to land and to connect are well done and quite engaging. The book could have been a bit better if there had been more of a technical description of what’s going on. After posing the question of what do people know about how the internet really works Blum seems to not be particularly interested in that aspect of it all.

Tubes isn’t a bad read. It reads like a good extended form of a Wired essay. It’s not a great book but if this kind of thing appeals it might be worth a look.


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