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Download PDF by Tung-Hui Hu: A Prehistory of the Cloud

By Tung-Hui Hu

ISBN-10: 0262330083

ISBN-13: 9780262330084

We may perhaps 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 which could use as a lot electrical energy as a midsized city. Even a lot of these information facilities are just one small a part of the cloud. in 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 booklet, Tung-Hui Hu examines the space among the true and the digital in our knowing 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 struggle 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 expertise itself and its cultural rhetoric, Hu’s account deals a suite of latest instruments for rethinking the modern electronic atmosphere.

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It may appear odd to begin a book about digital networks by following the transcontinental rights of way granted in the 1860s by the Pacific Railway Acts. 5 billion fiberoptic cable across the Arctic will shave between twenty and sixty milliseconds off the route from Tokyo to London for stock market traders, but the toxic metals used in their electronics inevitably end back up in the bodies of laborers manning poorly regulated disassembly plants in China. 5 Their bodies are absent from the picture, just as the Chinese bodies of railroad workers are absent from nineteenth-century railroad photographs.

By examining the physical geography of digital networks, we can see the spaces where the old has been displaced, and where new media, such as that of the Internet, are layered, adjacent, or even intertwined with far older mediums. Buildings and built landscapes, such as railroad tracks and other infrastructures, are the slowest medium of all, taking years to construct and then an order of magnitude longer to decay. 2 Overlay of fiber-optic routes and railroad routes. S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, 2010.

52 The implication of Derrida’s analysis is that the most extreme cases of repression may produce the most extreme response. Seen in this light, the Egypt case become even more interesting. Numerous commentators claimed that the so-called Internet kill switch in Egypt could never happen in more democratic and networked environments, such as the United States. 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.

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A Prehistory of the Cloud by Tung-Hui Hu


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