Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Connecting the world...

Though now fifteen years old, I recently found a great article on the web about our age's flow of information.

In the middle of the 90s, the writer and novelist Neal Stephenson decided to get down to the roots of data transfer: how is information getting from one side of the world to the other in the blink of an eye.  Taking along a buddy and GPS receiver, he set out on the ultimate geek adventure.  Some tourists travel the grand canyon, some the Amazon River, Stephenson followed the FLAG cable from England to Japan.

Over land and sea, the resulting travelogue resonates with humor, anecdotes, historical precedents, exotic locations, and raw info on the physical reality of data transfer.  It is Voyage of the Beagle in the 21st century.  Though lengthy (about 100 pages), the article is well worth a read for the sheer knowledge it contains about the nuts and bolts of global information systems and the history of the web of fiber optic cables draping the earth.  Anyone interested in computers would certainly enjoy it.

Published at Wired, click here for Stephenson's article "Mother Earth, Mother Board".

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