Andrew Blum: What is the Internet, really?

Not even sure how to start describing my reactions to this video? My first thought was, so what? Who cares? But, once I thought about it, I stopped and realized that the majority of people using the Internet truly have NO concept of what it REALLY is. All we know and see is the facebook page or tweets that pop up for us by the click of a button. Well, how does that happen? Who and what is controlling these actions behind the scenes?

Andrew Blum states in the video that “the Internet is like the Milky Way. We can never understand it.” I couldn’t agree more. The internet is a complex web of ever evolving searches and. It is a much more intricate system than it appears to us in the physical world. Blum goes into the idea of the physical internet vs. “the internet” after a squirrel chews through his internet cables causing him to go offline. He was familiar with the internet and how to use it, but became interested in the physical aspects. What is the Internet, really?

I found it fascinating that Blum actually traveled the world to see how the internet is connected. He learned of switches, boxes, and cables inside of man holes, underwater, and alongside hills and mountains. What a nut! Why would anyone want to do that? It’s funny actually because he probably falls into a small population of people who really care. I have never even thought about this, let alone had the desire to go out and see it firsthand. It is astonishing though to think about. We use our computers and the net daily without stopping to think about how it all works. All we know is we have to call the internet guy when we go offline and he magically just fixes it. I think I will be more aware now after watching this video but I can promise you I will never go searching for miles of cables under the sea 😉

So what? What does this mean for us as educators? I am not sure. I guess it is a good idea to make your students aware of the phsycial world and how it relates to the internet. Remind them that what they see and hear online is stored somewhere and does travel across wires. It’s not just a a vast space of unknown. If nothing else, have them practice critcal thinking skills?

Andrew Blum:  What is the Internet, really?

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2 Responses to Andrew Blum: What is the Internet, really?

  1. twallace18 says:

    You make excellent points. I very much enjoyed listening to Andrew Blum, and when all the assignments are uploaded and complete, I will definitely listen to more. It reminded me of a comment my mom used to make. We buy hamburger meat in the supermarket, but never think where it came from. We have a disconnect.
    Perhaps it was the blue sneakers…I liked how he conveyed the enormity of the reach of the internet in very simple terms, wires, and workers connecting them. There was something so very serene and simple about the beach, the diver, connecting the cables and then having juice and a cookie.

  2. akc68021 says:

    Funny you mention that Tina. I was just talking with my neighbor how in most other countries people see animals being killed for food and cannot escape the root source of where their food comes from. Perhaps in countries like India, this is why there is a large population of vegetarians. Here in the U.S. we don’t see that and all we know is that we go to the grocery store to buy our food. Same thing with teh internet. Although that probably applies to the rest of the world as well…people just type in a password and log on. What goes on behind the scene is not thought about. I too liked the watching the diver and seeing how “manual” the whole process is.

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