The realm of the cloud does not countenance loss, but when we touch it, we corrupt it. The word for such a system – a memory that preserves, encrypts and mystifies a lost love-object – is indeed melancholy. Hu’s is a deeply melancholy book and for that reason, a valuable one.—New Scientist—
But the thing about a cloud, Tung-Hui Hu reminds us in his mesmerizing new book, A Prehistory of the Cloud, is that you can only see it from a distance….. A Prehistory of the Cloud is Hu’s imaginative attempt to bring this abstraction into clearer focus. It’s informed as much by his current jobs (English professor and poet) as his old one (network engineer), and his approach is eclectic and unpredictable, full of unexpected riffs on Victorian sewage systems, the history of television, counterculture seekers, and the chilling final scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s paranoid classic ‘The Conversation.’
Witty, sharp and theoretically aware, Hu deconstructs this much-discussed but poorly understood ‘cultural fantasy’.
A Prehistory of the Cloud enhances our understanding of the power of digital networks and addresses the influences of digital networks on net users’ lives. Hu assists the reader in recognizing how the cloud functions in the contemporary digital environment by looking at the cloud through the older networks as underlying layers that have helped to construct this development.
—Digital Scholarship in the Humanities