From Apple's iCloud to Dropbox, cloud computing is becoming an increasingly important and useful part of digital life. This week's Please Explain is about the physical structures that make cloud computing possible, and their hidden impact on the environment. We're joined by James Glanz from The New York Times, who spent a year investigating the physical structures that make up and support cloud computing, and Dennis Symanski, Senior Project Manager at the Electric Power Research Institute.
James Glanz, investigative reporter for The New York Times, and Clay Shirky, faculty member at the Interactive Telecommunications program at NYU and the author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age and Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, discuss the shadow internet and the U.S. involvement in supporting more internet access around the world.
As a rising tide of unrest swept across the Middle East this past Spring many authoritarian regimes in the region initially reacted by shutting down the Internet and social networking sites.
The tactic was used in Egypt, Libya and recently Syria. However, protesters have continued to risk their lives to broadcast stories of brutal repression and violence. Meanwhile, the United States has been working on creating a shadow mobile network, with the idea of providing a secure network for protesters.
An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq ("Official History Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders", the New York Times, Dec. 14, 2008) depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.