Lab Six – the human network

a diagram of the human network.

A simulation of a network and how it interacts within itself and with another network with human beings. Although it may sound hard to understand being that there is no computer equipment involved, may be the best and easiest way to understand how computer systems, networks, encapsulation, and protocols function.

The simulation works like this:

Each person in the simulation is tasked with choosing a device i.e. computer, router, switch, printer. Then after deciding a name for your network, in our case either “worms”, “dirt”, or “birds”. each participant will then name their MAC address which is personal to them and then find their Gateway address which is the routers IP address on their side of the network. A “Worms” printer would have a gateway address of the “Worms” Router IP address. after the addresses are established participants will take strings and attach them to the papers for the devices to establish a link between the devices.

a more detailed illustration of the networks in the simulation, along with the port numbers.

After the links are established participants are tasked with sending information between systems in the network, for instance we sent a picture from a computer to a printer on the “worms” network.

the very first message ever sent on the “worms” network, sent from computer, to a printer locally.

while participating in this simulation users learn the proper protocols to send such things as pictures between devices as well as the levels of the OSI model between the first three layers: physical, data link, and network. you can see first hand in the simulation how bits get transferred in frames, and how frames get transferred in packets via postage envelopes and manilla folders enscribed with the source and destination address. just like actual networking protocol.

once something is sent between peers on the local network the participants will then go through the time consuming task of delivering between networks. an image sent from a computer must go to its home switch, then to the router, both of which chart whats going where and where it came from, then it is sent over the bridge network “Dirt” to the router on the other network “Birds”.

After all this there is discussion on how computers handle this alot better than a person would, how exactly TCP/IP and other protocols work within systems and after completing the simulation participants including my self will leave with a good sense of how networks work, what composes them and how the rules that the network has set and its other governing rules play such a big role in data management and connectivity.