Trunk Line

A new definition for boring

June 29th, 2010 · Comments Off on A new definition for boring

“Therefore, we’re going to dig conduit directly through the Earth’s Crust from the sub-basement of 60 Hudson in NYC all the way to 350 East Cermak in Chicago,” says “a purported representative of DeepBore Networks” to Rob Powell of Telecom Ramblings.

A ruse, of course. But it suggests some fun thinking about infrastructure.

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Digging Andrew Odlyzko

June 20th, 2010 · Comments Off on Digging Andrew Odlyzko

For anybody interested in the history of infrastructure, and lessons to be learned from many points in the history of the Industrial Age, Andrew Odlyzko, of the University of Minnesota, is required reading.

Here is a reading list.

Note the pieces on railway mania. Highly relevant stuff.

I’m writing this right now while leveraging one of the older forms of Industrial Age transport: canals. We are currently on one in Lorraine, France. Built in the early 1800s, it remains in use occasionally for barges, but is better known now for leisure boating. That’s what we’re doing here. It’s a small but thriving industry.

Comments Off on Digging Andrew OdlyzkoTags: History · Industry

Our Infrastructure Flickr Stream

June 10th, 2010 · Comments Off on Our Infrastructure Flickr Stream

A few months back, partly in anticipation of this blog, I created a Flickr account for the Berkman Center‘s Infrastructure group. To my surprise, no account with the name “Infrastructure” was taken, so I grabbed it, and the site is now here…

All the photo sets so far are mine, but I trust many more will come from other folks in our group. Here’s a rundown on what’s there now:

  • Shots exploring Domodossolla, Italy, during a day trip from our family’s ski vacation this past winter in Zermatt, Switzerland. The trip was recommended by Urs Gasser, Executive Director of the Berkman Center.
  • The rapidly-changing spire atop the Empire State Building, on a day pilots call “severe clear.” It is interesting to see how much electronic stuff has encrusted the blunt winged art deco made familiar by King Kong, and how much of that same stuff has been replaced many times over the years. Much of what’s still there is obsolete analog VHF TV transmitting antennae, that I expect will come down. What I’d like to see, personally, is the old building restored to something close to its original shape. Since most transmissions are now on much shorter wavelengths, using smaller antennas, this should be do-able.
  • Fiberfete, a “celebration of our connected future,” in Lafayette, Louisiana. Lafayette is the first city in the country, I believe, to have a municipal fiber optic network that passes every home in town (more than 100,000 people live there), and can deliver 100Mbps service within the town. That’s interesting infrastructure right there. What should be done with it? That was a focus of the gathering.
  • Tracking flights. For most of the history of aviation, following airplanes in and out of airports electronically — watching weather alongo the way — was a privilege only of a few professionals. Now it’s something anybody can do, with the help of services such as FlightAware. Here I tracked my 13-year-old son on his first solo passenger flights coast-to coast, all in one weekend.

Infrastructure sets with other Flickr accounts include:

As a bonus link, here’s the Infrastructure Photo Pool at Flickr.

Comments Off on Our Infrastructure Flickr StreamTags: Photography · Television

Defining Infrastructure

September 29th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Trunk Line is about studies in infrastructure.  So what is infrastructure?

[Fr. (1875 in Robert), f. INFRA- + STRUCTURE n.]
A collective term for the subordinate parts of an undertaking; substructure, foundation.

substructure: That part which supports something else.

foundation: The solid ground upon which another structure is erected.

(OED usage dates to 1927.)

Encarta Thesaurus:

(1) substructure, organization, structure, setup, arrangement, groundwork, frame, foundation, base

(2) public service, public transport, communications, power supply, water supply, broadcasting, telecommunications, networks, transportation

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