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Communications Software The Internet

"Series of Tubes" Metaphor Implemented 266

meisteg writes to tell us about Tubes: a beta application that uses a tube metaphor to enable users to share files over the Internet. The Windows-only app is free and the company hopes to make money on an enhanced version targeted at businesses. See this video for some details of how Tubes works. From the article: "[Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens] endured ridicule last year for his assertion that the Internet is 'a series of tubes.' But one Web startup hopes to bring that metaphor to life with a new service that makes it easy for people to share videos, songs, pictures and other big files."
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"Series of Tubes" Metaphor Implemented

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  • well-Planespeak. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:01PM (#17622862)
    OK so let's hear your explaination. And NO geekspeak.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:07PM (#17622914)
    I know people like to make fun of the Senator, but what really is so wrong with thinking of the internet as tubes. Are the wires and fiber which can only transmit so much data at a time that different from tubes that can only move so much material? People talk about needing a "fatter pipe" without bringing on ridicule, and a pipe is nothing but a tube.

    Or is it just that the rest of the Senator's speach that was ignorant, and people just latch onto tubes as a one word reminder.

  • by Pink Tinkletini ( 978889 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:08PM (#17622930) Homepage
    On the contrary, there is significant overlap between PC users and Slashdot's core audience of unimaginative squares and dweebs.
  • by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:09PM (#17622958)
    There are a zillion apps out there that accomplish the same thing. This is just one company riding a meme for publicity sakes. God how I hate marketers...
  • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:19PM (#17623066) Journal
    "OK so let's hear your explaination. And NO geekspeak."

    Good point. How would one explain how the internet works to someone with no clue at all? I mentioned the word "server" to my sister the other week, and she had to ask what it was. After trying to explain how it was different than her Dell laptop, I finally sent her a picture off google images of a big server rack and she finally got it.

    Geeks take it for granted what we already understand. To others, it might as well be magic.
  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:24PM (#17623114) Homepage Journal
    Many slashdotters so far have commented on the brutal marketspaek going on in this presentation, but this concept has one thing going for it that torrent networks so far haven't touched on very well... the use of a private share network that is collaborative.

    I think Tubes looks like it will catch on. If sites like Facebook and Technorati implement some hooks into it, there is no telling where this could go.
  • by tyler.willard ( 944724 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:46PM (#17623398)
    Tubes as a metaphor wouldn't be problematic in and of itself. However, after saying "it's a series of tubes" he elaborated by saying "it's not a truck". Whilst babbling in this manner he said his staff sent him "an internet" and it took 2 days to get to him because the tubes were full. He basically has no understanding of the subject and butchered what could have been an ok metaphor.
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:49PM (#17623430) Journal
    There are special computers that have pages, like from a book. Those special computers have something that lets you go to them, like each telephone has a unique number, but it more resembles words. Like woolworths.com is the "phone number" for the special computer with Woolworths pages on it. You type in the "phone number" into a special program, and it sends the "phone number" over the telephone line and like a telephone number, it knows where to go. It goes to the right computer, gets the page and sends it back to your computer over the telephone line. Your special program then displays the information. You can click on certain words and that will get other pages from the woolworths.com computer.

    Much less misleading then "the internet is a series of tubes" and easy to understand.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:14PM (#17623662) Homepage Journal

    Here goes nothing. Stevens got it ass backwards. The internet IS more like a truck... or really a bunch of them. It's not like a tube. A tube is a continuous flow. A roadway is a bunch of independent bits of flow all moving in different directions, much like the internet.

    The internet is a lot like an information superhighway... or more accurately, a highly interconnected network of roads and bridges that span the globe. Some roads are toll roads where people can pay to get somewhere faster just like you pay for a faster connection to the internet. There's nothing wrong with that. Some roads have fast speed limits, some have slower speed limits, and that all factors into how fast the truck gets to its destination. The internet works the same way. Those trucks are called packets, and the roads are called many names---pipes, trunk lines, and so on---but you can easily think of them as being like roadways.

    One big difference is that in the internet, you can pay money to your home state for the right to drive in the HOV lane or on other fast roads. People who want to get there faster can do so. Every state cooperates to allow drivers from other states to use those fast lanes because they know that those drivers are bringing things that people from their states have ordered. In effect, those trucks are driving at the request of the local residents. This generally works well; it's a lot like a nationwide, flat-rate version of FasTrak.

    However, some companies don't like the status quo. The non-neutral net that they propose can best be compared to Arkansas deciding that they are going to turn some of their faster roads into "special" toll roads. On those roads, they will charge $1 for trucks from Arkansas, but charge $100 for an identical truck from California. Why? Because California provides more trucks. If the truck from California doesn't pay that increased fee, they have take the slower, non-toll road. The people who ultimately are harmed, though, are the local residents who must ultimately bear the cost, either through paying those trucking companies more so that they can pay their state more or through having to wait longer to get their packages.

    Network neutrality laws are designed to make sure that the Arkansas states on the internet can't play those sorts of games. Ultimately, without network neutrality, the consumer loses.

    How's that?

  • by Zen ( 8377 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:38PM (#17623866)
    I don't get it. The techie link does not explain in the least bit how it actually works. Does the data transfer happen directly between the users? Does it go through a server first where everything has the potential of being logged? In the case of multiple recipients is it unicast or multicast? What level of security have you done (I assume that the file transfers are encrypted). The email looked like a custom app to me, not any old email client, does that go through a centralized server before it is sent out as 'real' smtp email? What ports do you use for transfer, and does it work through a NAT?

    All right - going through their website quickly before I hit submit I got most of my answers. It's TCP 80 and 443, it appears to use a centralized server (thereby having a 2GB limit, and logging all access), and does not work through NAT yet.

    But this information should definitely have been available in the techies video. There was no technical information in that video at all.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:43PM (#17623908)

    Explaining the difference between a client and a server is easy: the client is the thing that "asks" for stuff, and the server is the thing that fulfills the requests. It's not as if we geeks picked these words out of thin air, you know -- they were picked for their conceptual similarity to stuff in the real world. In other words, a computer "server" and a restaurant "server" (i.e., a waiter) do the same thing: ask for a glass of water, the server gets you a glass of water; ask for a web page, the server sends you a web page. How much more bleedingly obvious could it be?

  • by Attaturk ( 695988 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:54PM (#17624030) Homepage
    I am the marketer at TubesNow.com and my name is Steve.
    Hi Steve. We here at /. have no problem with innovations and new technologies. We love the stuff. We're not good with "marketers" though. You were innocent/ignorant/brave enough to come here so I'll try to be kind even though I know some of us would probaly like to eat your brain with a spoon.

    So if you have some "news for nerds" or "stuff that matters", by all means share it with us. We'll want to know all the gory technical details that the mainstream press gets turned off by. If we think it rocks, you'll hear no end of it. We'll be bragging to everyone about how we know about this cool new thing that's really clever and is going to be huge. I should imagine that scenario to be a marketer's wet dream.

    However on a more cautionary note, if you should ever try to use or misuse us, or this site, purely as a marketing tool, we'll tear your product to pieces. It'll be mocked by us mercilessly and swiftly forgotten. The overall marketing effort would be starkly hindered by the historic mauling that we gave it in its infancy. That sounds a lot like a marketer's worst nightmare.

    So please, tell your marketer friends our message. Bring us genuine, interesting news and we'll do your job for you better than you could have ever hoped. Bring us tired, overhyped, nothing new to see here slashvertisements and we'll get mad. Then we'll get even. Then we'll go back to being odd.

    If you think there's something truly new or special about your product, double-check with some really hardcore geek friends. If they say things like "so it's just a file sharing app?" or "and?" then it's probably best not to bring the hype to our door. IMHO you should only bring it here if they say things like: "Holy crap - why didn't I think of that?" or "Damn that's smart. I thought I knew what I was talking about but your guys must really know their shit!" or even "You're shitting me! When did that happen?"

    Good luck with selling the software.
  • by HexRei ( 515117 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:05AM (#17624114)
    I mean, it's a good metaphor. Regardless of the medium (electrical or optical) the internet really kind of IS a series of tubes of varying capacity, interconnecting a bunch of nodes.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:22AM (#17624260) Homepage Journal
    what really is so wrong with thinking of the internet as tubes.

    What is wrong is that it leaves out the most important thing; the thing that makes the whole shebang work.

    The Internet is not a series of tubes; it is a series of agreed upon ways of delivering information.

    Tubes are passive and what goes down them uniformly follows the path of least resistance. The Internet when it delivers information is dynamic; it is continually making decisions about the best way to get data from its source to its destination. Those decisions are strictly fair: the network makes its best effort for every packet of data within the limits of the service the user asked for when he placed that packet on the network.

    Describing the Internet as a series of tubes is self serving. Whey shouldn't companies control what flows over their "tubes"? But if you describe the Internet as a kind of agreement or compact for information interchange, things look different. Sure, it's your tubes, but you built those tubes because your customers are paying you to access the wealth of value created by a fair an impartial market for information.

    What the vendors want to do is pull a bait and switch on their customers.

    The customers are looking for Internet access, which is a commodity. You can only make high profits selling a commodity by dint of exceptional efficiency, foresight, and maybe a litle luck. The vendors would prefer to sell a proprietary information network, where it's easier to make money once you've locked the customer in.

    The problem is that nobody wants a proprietary network (like the old AOL). Such a network would have only a fraction of the value of an Internet. A "non-neutral" Internet (which is in my opinion an oxymoron) allows them to bootstrap their proprietary offerings by freeloading off the Internet. They'll give customers unfettered access to Internet services for which they have no replacement offering. As soon as they have a replacement offering, they will place their thumbs on the routing scale to give their inferior products a leg up.

    Net neutrality is good for the information market in the way that common markets are good for trade. Non-netural networks are like trading systems with high tariffs: they protect inefficient producers.

  • by kruhft ( 323362 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:42AM (#17624420) Homepage Journal
    I think he meant 'tubes' like the old fashioned air driven tube messaging systems like they used to have in offices and factories (and I think I saw one in Costco a while back for the cashiers to transfer cash to the back of the store). This makes the most sense to me, since the system was essentially email-like, and would be the closest thing that someone with limited technical knowledge talking to an older crowd could analogize to.
  • Re:What's New ? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:29AM (#17625632)
    That 99% value is right - imeem.com has a few thousand users of the client application but it has over a million website users - people don't want to download an application to use something.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.