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On June 28th, 2006, former Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens told the world, “The internet is not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes,” among other odd choices of wording while trying to criticize an ammendment that would have prohibited ISP’s from charging for a tiered internet structure.
The entire internet was listening. Fark, BoingBoing, Wired, and essentially everyone whose livelihood and/or recreation relies on the internet promptly gave their two-cents on the matter. (See the Wikipedia link in the header for more details.)
On July 14th, 2006 “DJ Ted Stevens Techno Remix: A Series of Tubes” video created by Gavin of 13tongimp.com was uploaded to Youtube. The video currently has over 3.7 million views.
Outside the Internet
On May 29, 2012, Wired journalist Andrew Blum published a book on the internet called Tubes – named after the meme. From the Amazon.com page:
When your Internet cable leaves your living room, where does it go? Almost everything about our day-to-day lives--and the broader scheme of human culture--can be found on the Internet. But what is it physically? And where is it really? Our mental map of the network is as blank as the map of the ocean that Columbus carried on his first Atlantic voyage. The Internet, its material nuts and bolts, is an unexplored territory. Until now.
In Tubes, journalist Andrew Blum goes inside the Internet’s physical infrastructure and flips on the lights, revealing an utterly fresh look at the online world we think we know. It is a shockingly tactile realm of unmarked compounds, populated by a special caste of engineer who pieces together our networks by hand; where glass fibers pulse with light and creaky telegraph buildings, tortuously rewired, become communication hubs once again. From the room in Los Angeles where the Internet first flickered to life to the caverns beneath Manhattan where new fiber-optic cable is buried; from the coast of Portugal, where a ten-thousand-mile undersea cable just two thumbs wide connects Europe and Africa, to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have built monumental data centers--Blum chronicles the dramatic story of the Internet’s development, explains how it all works, and takes the first-ever in-depth look inside its hidden monuments.
Senator Stevens was almost right with his “tube” analogy, but among other things he seemed unable to comprehend the idea of information packets. He is also quoted as saying, “my staff sent me an internet” which helped to contribute to the already popular “Internets” meme coined by the equally inept George W. Bush.
Both are examples of politicians who had the power to make important decisions regarding our current means of communication, yet failed miserably to understand it.