Layers and literals

There is actually a difference between phone connections and network connections. I imagined both the same, solid bold lines bent through rigid corners, each endpoint a communications device. This is true of phones and “circuit-switched” networks, but not so for packet-oriented networks like the Internet. The logical layer of “a connection” does not match the implementation.

Conceptually, packets may not travel the same route. They travel across the ebb and flow of pipes, big ones and little ones, whose marketed bandwidth is a shadow of the actual performance, the throughput. Such “layer thoughts” should not surprise me; initial assumptions ought to consider a certain implicit inaccuracy.

“It’s all software; hardware is irrelevant,” a colleague said. He looked around at his office of spare parts and sitting appliances. He wanted to learn about cylinders, databases. Software had eaten the world, and he was catching up.