Skip to content Skip to navigation

Book Talk, Andrew Blum, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet. Image courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers.

Through technology we are all connected now, the pundits tell us. But connected to what, exactly? In Tubes, journalist Andrew Blum takes readers on a narrative tour behind the scenes of our everyday lives to see the heart of the Internet itself.

When former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska famously described the Internet as “a series of tubes,” he seemed hopelessly, foolishly trapped in an old way of knowing the world. But he wasn’t wrong. After all, as Blum writes, the Internet exists: for all the talk of the “placelessness” of our digital age, the Internet is as fixed in real, physical places as any railroad or telephone ever was. It fills enormous buildings, converges in some places and avoids others, and it flows through tubes underground, up in the air, and under the oceans all over the world. You can map it, you can smell it, and you can even visit it.

From the room in Los Angeles where the Internet flickered to life to the busiest streets in Manhattan as new fiber optic cable is laid down; from the coast of Portugal as a 10,000 mile undersea cable just two thumbs’ wide is laid down to connect Europe and West Africa to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest where Google, Microsoft and Facebook have built monumental data centers—Blum visits them all to chronicle the dramatic story of the Internet’s development, explain how it all works, and capture the spirit of the (virtual) place.

Visit Andrew Blum's website

Andrew Blum is a correspondent at Wired magazine and a contributing editor at Metropolis. His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times, Business Week, Slate, and Popular Science. He lives in New York City.

To Reserve: This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

Book Sales:  Andrew Blum will sign copies of his book following the lecture, books will be provided for sale by Zimmara. If you wish to reserve or purchase a book or books in advance, please visit Zimmara or call 617-734-7689.

Assistive Listening Devices image

Most programs held in the Bayard Henry Long Room on the Athenaeum's first floor are amplified and assistive listening devices are available for patron use.

ASL Interpretation image

To request ASL interpretation services for any of the Athenaeum's programs, please contact Hannah Weisman at 617-720-7617 or