series of tubes
Series of Tubes
"Series of Tubes", is a shortening of a quote by former senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) who on June 28, 2006 used a metaphor to describe the internet as a series of tubes.
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday. I got it yesterday [Tuesday]. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially. […] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
Stevens was attempting to criticize net neutrality and an amendment to a bill that would have "prohibited Internet service providers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications from charging fees to give some companies higher priority access to their networks or their customers". However, his opponents latched onto his stumbling speech and poor analogy as indication that the senator did not understand the internet which his committee was charged with regulating. The tech community cited the speech as a clear example of politicians attempting to regulate something they did not understand and Stevens' as the committee chair was portrayed as old and out of touch. In general the phrase is used to mock the over-simplification of how the internet works.
Following the ridicule Stevens maintained that his metaphor was appropriate.
Since his unfortunate speech "series of tubes" has become a longtime running and iconic joke similar to the association of Al Gore 'inventing' the internet. It has been the source of numerous pop culture references including many bits on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as well as the inspiration for amateur graphic spoofs.
More famously, after Stevens' death in an plane crash in 2010 Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post wrote a humorous article entitled "Sen. Stevens, the tubes salute you".
- ↑ http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2006/06/your_own_person/
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_of_tubes
- ↑ http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/08/senator_stevens_the_tubes_salu.html?waporef=obnetwork