[iDC] lambda lambda lamda

Ryan Griffis ryan.griffis at gmail.com
Sat Feb 18 18:57:07 EST 2006

On Feb 18, 2006, at 11:01 AM, christian sandvig wrote:

> If you want
> to use a hip, up-to-date word to stand in for lots of bandwidth (and  
> who
> doesn't?) -- use "lambda" (
> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/05/technology/techspecial/ 
> 05markoff.html? 
> pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=5715aa258c370445&ex=1286164800).
> Let me try: What will happen when we are all on the lambda?  Why am I  
> off
> the lambda?  etc.  It is a fun word to use.  And such a queer choice.   
> Maybe
> queer theorists have colonized the grid.

 From that NYT article:
+ It is now possible to connect computers on opposite sides of the  
world by an optical fiber capable of carrying 10 billion bits of  
information a second.
Known as "lambdas" - an industry term for optical circuits that carry  
data - these data superhighways are making it possible to create a new  
class of supercomputers that have no geographical boundaries.
Such virtual computers are possible to create today because the new  
optical networks have delays of only the time it takes the speed of  
light to travel from one point to another. They offer a bridge to a new  
era of computing.
"People have spoken about how computer networks have flattened the  
world," said Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist who is director of the  
California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology,  
known as Calit2, an interdisciplinary research laboratory which will  
officially open this month at the University of California, San Diego,  
in La Jolla, and the University of California, Irvine. "But it's more  
than that, distance is vanishing and the world is now shrinking to a  
single point." +

It's funny to read the utopian mixture of Friedman and Virilio in  
Smarr's statement above. Well, maybe not so funny. The US military is  
on a huge "flattening the world" campaign at the moment.
maybe the data travels at the speed of light... but shipping containers  
still require million ton barges that use lots of petrol, and are bound  
by all kinds of meaty geopolitics and property relations (to perhaps  
echo John's comment on infrastructure).
(on Google's potential shipping container-based intervention in the  
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20051117.html )
but who knows, maybe being able to download the Matrix series in under  
half an hour will lead to a better world? Either way, we'll get there  
I think to follow Christian's question about I2 living up to promises,  
we could start to really ask what those promises were/are to begin  
with, especially regarding his great point about the general  
centralization of the network. What does decentralization really mean  
in a proprietary ecology? maybe i'm taking this somewhere way out in  
left field, but i guess i think this is important in relation to  
potential crises (not unlike recent earthquakes and hurricanes, but in  
a more mundane way, economic problems as well).

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