A Prehistory of the Cloud by Tung-Hui Hu

By Tung-Hui Hu

We may well think the electronic cloud as placeless, mute, airy, and unmediated. but the truth of the cloud is embodied in millions of huge information facilities, anyone of that could use as a lot electrical energy as a midsized city. Even these types of info facilities are just one small a part of the cloud. in the back of that cloud-shaped icon on our monitors is a complete universe of applied sciences and cultural norms, all operating to maintain us from noticing their lifestyles. during this ebook, 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 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 struggle bunkers that have been later reused as info facilities. Countering the preferred notion 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 safety 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 latest instruments for rethinking the modern electronic surroundings.

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Youngblood’s union of heterogeneous networks is eerily similar to the union of satellite, land, and radio networks that was dubbed, five years later, the Internet. Add in the “time-shared computer utilities” and storage networks (considered in the next two chapters), and you have the cloud. Excited by the potential of this new technology, the late 1960s and early 1970s became a test bed for questions that would preoccupy network culture: If you could design a two-way, “feedback network,” could you even out the structures of power and create a more participatory media environment?

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. ) always being made obsolete by the daily practice of bodies walking through and interacting with space, the built environment may be an ideal location for observing displacement and media change.

The centralized Bell System upon which the nation relied had begun to exhibit cracks, even if its officials rushed to assure the nation that defense circuits had been rerouted within ninety seconds. ) More important for our story, the bombing of the Bell System occurred during a moment when scientists were designing distributed networks to survive similar attacks. In other words, the bombing made real a largely abstract fear—that war might destroy a centralized communications network. Because this was front-page news, Baran almost certainly read about it as he was revising a paper that he would publish as “On Distributed Networks” a year later.

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