Internet – the Biggest Hack Ever

I was talking with someone yesterday about computers, networks, and the Internet.  When you think about it statistically, with all the tiny parts of a computer that must work together to send information at light speed, and all the computers, routers, hubs, etc. that are on a network – it is a miracle that you are ever able to compose and send an email, and someone else is able to receive it.  Say every part works 99.99999% of the time.  There are hundreds of thousands of processes, parts, lines of code, etc. that must all work at the same time for the email to be sent. 

That brought me to the idea of the Internet.  It is actually a huge hack job.  There are hundreds of billions of pieces to the Internet.  Most were built by different people, using different languages (both ethnic languages and programming languages), on different platforms, etc.  It looks pretty on the outside, but is a mess inside.  It is the equivalent of a building.  Every room of every floor is built using a different style, material, and with different specs.  You have some rooms made of brick with 8 foot doors, some with wood and 10 foot doors, still others with concrete and no doors.  You get in the elevator, and it works fine.  What you don’t see are the people who are physically pulling the elevator from floor to floor.  The lights work, but you don’t see the rats running in wheels to power the building. 

Obviously there is no way to tear down this Internet and start over.  It shows that the collaboration involved in the massive use of the Internet is a spectacular feat.


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