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New Media, Communication, and Society

A Fast, Straightforward Examination of Key Topics

Mary Ann Allison and Cheryl A. Casey

New Media, Communication, and Society is a fast, straightforward examination of key topics which will be useful and engaging for both students and professors. It connects students to wide-ranging resources and challenges them to develop their own opinions. Moreover, it encourages students to develop media literacy so they can speak up and  make a difference in the world. Short chapters with lots of illustrations encourage reading and provide a springboard for conversation inside and outside of the classroom. Wide-ranging topics spark interest. Chapters include suggestions for additional exploration, a media literacy exercise, and a point that is just for fun. Every chapter includes thought leaders, ranging from leading researchers to business leaders to entrepreneurs, from Socrates to Doug Rushkoff and Lance Strate to Bill Gates.

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8 The Physical Side of the Internet (Cheryl A. Casey / Mary Ann Allison)

Extract

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CHAPTER 8

The Physical Side of the Internet

Cheryl A. Casey and Mary Ann Allison

More than just air

For many of us, the Internet is a sort of given. It’s simply there, like our homes, the grocery store, and the dentist’s office. We go to these places whenever we want or need. It’s the same with cyberspace—we just go. In my small town, I can even use my laptop to go online while sitting in the pavilion at the village green. Anyone in downtown Waterbury, Vermont, has access to a free wireless connection provided by the town.

The places—including cyber places—that we take for granted don’t simply appear by magic. They take a good deal of effort to build and maintain.

For many of us, the Internet “is” what appears on our screens. Most of us depend on this information for school, work, entertainment, and connecting with our friends and families.

Physically, though, the Internet is composed of many more than 9 billion computers of various types and the wires, cables, and satellites that connect them.

Sometimes it takes a disaster—an earthquake, a monsoon, or a war—to make it clear that the Internet relies on equipment and cables to deliver. But even something as small as a squirrel can stop the information flow by gnawing through a wire.

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