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How I Bought the Internet — and You Can Too

in Analysis

A few months ago my firm bought the Internet. Let me explain: When people think about the Internet, they imagine an enormous, decentralized (key word), spiderweblike network of millions of servers and hundreds of millions of business and personal computers, all loosely connected to one another. That image makes a lot of sense; after all, the Internet was created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to make sure the military forces and other branches of the government could communicate in case of nuclear war. This was my image of the Internet too — but then I read Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum, and this naive notion was completely shattered. Blum, a journalist who used to write about architecture, went on a quest to discover what the Internet is after a squirrel chewed through a cable at his home and severed his connection. To his surprise (and to mine as well), he found that the Internet is a lot more intimate than the common conception; it is really a network of networks located in a few dozen buildings globally that hold most of those decentralized servers. In Tubes, Blum goes on about a company that owns...