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Yes, we’ve all laughed at Ted Steven’s “series of tubes” line—including Jon Stewart. But as Andrew Blum writes in his new book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the Internet may be more tube-like than most people realize.

Sure, if you’re an Ars reader, chances are that you have at least a basic understanding of how the Internet works. That is to say, of course, the computer you’re on right now talks to your ISP, which in turn talks to a central hub, which in turn connects to other networks, over fiber optic cables, and so forth. All in tiny fractions of seconds, all the way to its destination. You probably understand the basic principle of packet switching, that the route of data can change, and indeed, that this is its primary innovation.

But even the most geeky network engineers among us may not know that the very first original TCP/IP router, the “IMP,” was nearly tossed out of its original University of California, Los Angeles home. Or how oddly appropriate it was for an early porn site from the late 1990s, Danni.com [NSFW], to have a photo shoot at an important Internet exchange, called MAE-West. Or, who the current power couple of the North American Network Operators’ Group is.

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