You Review: Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet by Andrew Blum

Reviewed by Jaya Rai

Remember the excitement you felt while reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, as if you had laid your hands on the most intriguing document in history? The introduction to Tubes promises to lead you to the holy grail of the physical infrastructure of the Internet.

What is the actual Internet? Like most technology which makes our lives easier, the functioning and mechanics of it lays hidden and undiscovered to most people.  The Internet is another mystery so common yet so rare. Every time most of us log on, we hardly give a thought on how we are able to do all those wonderful things that the Internet enables us to do. Andrew Blum seeks to redress this.

On a rather routine day, he finds himself unable to access the Internet. The whole task of figuring out what has gone wrong charms him into looking deep into the invisible infrastructure of the Internet. He delves into this uncharted territory, weaving in and out of  the past and  present. Blum introduces us to a host of people who gave shape to the Internet, in addition to the the few names that are popularly known.

From a layman’s point of view, most of Blum’s writing is simple enough to allow the reader to grasp the intricate and abstract technical concepts. But be warned, at certain junctions, unless you are a geek or smart at grasping complex descriptions, reareading is required in order to make sense of what is being explained. On the other hand, at places the text is so diluted that one tends to lose interest. The book would have benefited from tighter editing.

I recommend this book to anyone who is fascinated by the ubiquity of the Internet and curious about its beginnings and its underbelly. After reading this book they are sure to be wiser than the rest.

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