By Tung-Hui Hu

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 huge information facilities, anyone of that could use as a lot electrical energy as a midsized city. Even a majority of these information facilities are just one small a part of the cloud. at the back of that cloud-shaped icon on our displays is an entire universe of applied sciences and cultural norms, all operating to maintain us from noticing their lifestyles. during this ebook, Tung-Hui Hu examines the distance among the true and the digital in our knowing of the cloud.

Hu indicates 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 warfare 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 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 setting.

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Yet ARPAnet and the eventual Internet seemed to be different. With its distributed structure, it seemed to resist centralization; indeed, its structure held the potential to radically transform the shape of communications. 3 Paul Baran, “Centralized, Decentralized and Distributed Networks,” 1962. 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.

Where else can one find the belief that a single idea, the network, links “drug cartels, terror groups, black hat hacker crews,” with “corporate management techniques, manufacturing supply chains, advertising campaigns,” except inside a Thomas Pynchon novel? 24 But on a more general level, how else can we take the act of interpretation— the act of finding meaning within disorder, the “reflex of seeking other orders behind the visible,” as Pynchon once glossed paranoia—that scholars of digital culture, myself included, so often engage in?

Senator Hruska: Well, if they are so comprehensive that it could be any of them. General DuPlantis: This could be true, but it would be very difficult. Senator Hruska: I understand the circuitous business. 37 One imagines a slight note of exasperation from the general. ” Thus, for DuPlantis, as it is for scholars of contemporary networks, it was impossible to pin down what the system “is”; the system reroutes itself depending on the need. It is a logical overlay, rather than a physical thing; it is a process, not a static moment; it is a matter of what should not be covered, rather than defining what it does cover.

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