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Tubes summary

Andrew Blum

A Journey to the Center of the Internet

3.6 (33 ratings)
10 mins

Brief summary

Tubes by Andrew Blum is a fascinating exploration of the physical infrastructure that supports and powers the internet. It takes readers on a journey through the hidden world of data centers, undersea cables, and network hubs, revealing the complex and interconnected systems that drive our online lives.

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    The internet may seem purely virtual, but it owes its existence to a few very physical places.

    The internet is everywhere: in our houses, on our phones, in our cities. You’re even reading this blink online right now. Yet when we think about how the internet works – and where we can find it – most of us draw a blank.

    The truth is that, despite how much we use it, most of us don’t understand the internet. We use smartphones to send emails, Skype our families in different countries and watch movies wherever we are. Yet if we’re asked where our internet comes from, we usually can’t get past the router blinking away in a corner of our home.

    But the router is only the final link in a long chain of connections: your router is connected to a fiber cable, which is connected to more cables that travel to bigger hubs, and these hubs are connected to even more cables and hubs. Information is sent in the form of bits of light throughout the network all over the world, allowing everyone to communicate and access the connected information.

    While that is still quite abstract, there are places where you can go and see the internet in the physical world: the hubs.

    Internet hubs are in buildings straight out of a sci-fi movie: towering gray walls with no company name on display outside, while thousands of routers blink in the dark as fans roar to keep the machines cool inside.

    The biggest of these hubs are located in well-known cities, like Frankfurt, Palo Alto, London and Tokyo. But there are also thousands of miles of cables beneath the sea, connecting the continents of our world.

    Now that we know a bit more about the physical nature of the internet, let’s take a look at its origins.

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    What is Tubes about?

    Tubes (2012) traces the origins of the internet, from its humble origins at a few US universities to its current superstructure status. You’ll find out about the physical components of the internet, including fiber cables, hubs and massive internet exchange points.

    Tubes Review

    Tubes (2012) by Andrew Blum takes readers on a fascinating journey through the physical infrastructure of the internet. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With detailed exploration of the hidden world behind our screens, the book demystifies the internet, giving insight into the physical mechanisms that make it all work.
    • Blum's in-depth research and interviews with key players in the industry provide a unique perspective, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the internet's infrastructure.
    • The book's engaging storytelling keeps readers captivated, unraveling the complexities of the internet while highlighting the human side of this global network.

    Best quote from Tubes

    Today over two billion people use the internet.

    —Andrew Blum
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    Who should read Tubes?

    • Internet geeks
    • People who want to understand how networks function
    • Those curious about the relationship between geography and the internet

    About the Author

    Andrew Blum is a New-York based journalist who has published his work in Wired, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and Popular Science.

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    Tubes FAQs 

    What is the main message of Tubes?

    The main message of Tubes is to explore the physical infrastructure that makes up the internet.

    How long does it take to read Tubes?

    The reading time for Tubes varies, but it can be read in a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Tubes a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Tubes is worth reading as it provides insights into the hidden world of the internet.

    Who is the author of Tubes?

    Andrew Blum is the author of Tubes.

    What to read after Tubes?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Tubes, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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