Nice article by Neal Stephenson


I stumbled on this nice ‘article’ by Neal Stephenson that was published in in Wired 1996. He opens the article by announcing it is going to be a lengthy article in the end of his introduction, i.e. already well past the average length of a Wired article. The article length is a whopping 56 web pages. Printed to pdf it actually is 85 A4 pages. I wonder if Wired actually ever ran the full printed version in their paper edition. Anyway, it’s a long article but short compared to Stephenson’s Novels of which I am a big fan.

The article discusses a massive project that involves laying around 25000km of fiber optic cable in the mid nineties. In true Stephenson style, there are many interesting sidetracks involving such things as discussions of the history of cable laying technology, various sites visited by Stephenson along the cable’s route (e.g. former site of the library in Alexandia), etc. In other words, well worth a read if you have a few hours to spare. It doesn’t really matter that the article is twelve years old since the technology hasn’t changed much since then. Or as Stephenson argues, since Kelvin invented most of it 150 years ago.