By Tung-Hui Hu
We may possibly think the electronic cloud as placeless, mute, airy, and unmediated. but the truth of the cloud is embodied in hundreds of thousands of big facts facilities, anyone of that could use as a lot electrical energy as a midsized city. Even these types of facts facilities are just one small a part of the cloud. at the back of that cloud-shaped icon on our monitors is an entire universe of applied sciences and cultural norms, all operating to maintain us from noticing their lifestyles. during this e-book, Tung-Hui Hu examines the distance among the genuine and the digital in our realizing of the cloud.
Hu exhibits that the cloud grew out of such older networks as railroad tracks, sewer strains, 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 battle 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 energy 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 bargains a suite of recent instruments for rethinking the modern electronic atmosphere.
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Extra resources for A Prehistory of the Cloud
Reproduced with permission of The RAND Corp. 12 As evidence, these scholars cite the movement away from the centralized, command-and-control structures of US Air Force computer rooms to ARPAnet and the contemporary Internet. This model of rupture remains a seductive myth because it explains the dispersion of power through the formal qualities of the computer networks that supposedly enable it. One problem, however: the distributed network, as designed by Baran, was never built. ” 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).
55 Just as labor strikes were once conflated with the invocation of war, the present moment has increasingly seen different political scenarios flattened into a sparse set of terms: war, terror, protest, network. The logic that ties the “network of networks” represented by Al Qaeda– affiliated movements with the “cloud protesting” of Occupy, for example, is a sad reminder of this sparseness of language. What we urgently need is a richer vocabulary that captures the complexity of each social movement, a language that is less interpretive than phenomenological.
Set aside, for a moment, the rather patronizing nature of these proclamations. What I want to argue is the opposite: precisely because the United States is more interconnected, it is more prone to extreme responses. Take perhaps the most networked region in the country, the San Francisco Bay Area, where proximity to the giants of Silicon Valley, such as Cisco, Google, Apple, and so forth, has caused it to be a test bed for technical and government experiments on pervasive networking. Planners noticed one hole in the network, though: the underground, and specifically the underground transit system.