Hidden Systems is a book that could teach your children how the Internet works Story-level
growing up i learned The way things work from the author david macaulayIncredible Illustrated Books. This week, I was surprised to see Macaulay’s endorsement in my inbox for a new illustrated explainer by a different author, but the surprise didn’t last long.
Fifteen minutes after I started thumbing through an advance copy of Hidden Systems, which just came out this week, I immediately ordered the book for my kids. It seems like a great way to help them conceptualize the Internet, the world’s water supply, and our electrical grid, and to get them thinking about the world’s infrastructure that they will one day inherit.
In 262 pages, author and cartoonist Dan Nott tackles each of these systems in comic book form, piecing together the building blocks of how they work and the basics of how they were conceived, all without ignoring the social challenges each faces. “I started drawing about hidden systems because comics seem to have this superpower-like ability to compare how we think about something with how it works concretely,” Nott writes in the book.
A lot of it is stuff that took me years to learn, distilled into an incredibly readable form. Even adults will probably find things they don’t know, like the shapes and locations of secret buildings where telecommunications companies hide their network equipment.
I want to show you something, so I asked Random House if he could share the first chapter about the metaphors we use to describe the Internet, metaphors that are sometimes useful but are inherently wrong.
They are happily grateful, so here you go!