By Tung-Hui Hu
We might think the electronic cloud as placeless, mute, airy, and unmediated. but the truth of the cloud is embodied in hundreds of thousands of big information facilities, anybody of that may use as a lot electrical energy as a midsized city. Even most of these facts facilities are just one small a part of the cloud. at the back of that cloud-shaped icon on our displays is an entire universe of applied sciences and cultural norms, all operating to maintain us from noticing their lifestyles. during this booklet, Tung-Hui Hu examines the distance among the genuine and the digital in our knowing of the cloud.
Hu indicates that the cloud grew out of such older networks as railroad tracks, sewer traces, and tv circuits. He describes key moments within the prehistory of the cloud, from the sport “Spacewar” as exemplar of time-sharing desktops to chilly warfare bunkers that have been later reused as facts facilities. Countering the preferred belief of a brand new “cloudlike” political energy that's dispersed and immaterial, Hu argues that the cloud grafts electronic applied sciences onto older methods of exerting strength over a inhabitants. yet simply because we make investments the cloud with cultural fantasies approximately protection and participation, we fail to acknowledge its militarized origins and beliefs. relocating among the materiality of the know-how itself and its cultural rhetoric, Hu’s account deals a collection of recent instruments for rethinking the modern electronic atmosphere.
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Additional resources for A Prehistory of the Cloud
5 Their bodies are absent from the picture, just as the Chinese bodies of railroad workers are absent from nineteenth-century railroad photographs. When cloud computing enters into the picture, this puzzle becomes particularly complicated, because the cloud buries or hides its physical location by design. ”6 The cloud thus offers a vision of globalization that follows the dictates of a multinational corporation—a coalition of geographic areas that move capital and resources through the most efficient path.
13 Indeed, a truly distributed network is almost impossible to create, because of economic, political, and even geographic considerations (it is hard to run fiber-optic cable across mountains). As a result, virtually all traffic on the US Internet runs across the same routes established in the nineteenth century, a point THE SHAPE OF THE NETWORK 7 that is readily visible when looking at network diagrams, which have changed remarkably little since Baran’s day. It is worth remembering that the fiberoptic cables that run from Salt Lake City to the San Francisco Bay Area are in the same position they always have been, since the telegraph: in the immediate vicinity of railroad tracks.
1 Stripped for metal during World War II, railroads are now stripped for tax reasons. Gradually, thousands of miles of track have been abandoned since peaking at 254,000 miles in 1916;2 the pace has only sped up since deregulation in 1980. 1). A pile of bent trestles along the side disrupts the symmetry of the composition. The familiar parallel lines of a railroad track heading to the vanishing point seem to signal another vanishing: the railroad, that technology of the machine age, itself heading for obsolescence.