[artinfo] (fwd) Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics

Janos Sugar sj at c3.hu
Fri Feb 10 15:31:37 CET 2006

Control and Freedom
Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

How has the Internet, a medium that thrives on control, been accepted 
as a medium of freedom? Why is freedom increasingly indistinguishable 
from paranoid control? In Control and Freedom, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun 
the current political and technological coupling of freedom with 
control by tracing the emergence of the Internet as a mass medium. 
The parallel (and paranoid) myths of the Internet as total 
freedom/total control, she says, stem from our reduction of political 
problems into technological ones.

Drawing on the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault and 
analyzing such phenomena as Webcams and face recognition technology, 
Chun argues that the relationship between control and freedom in 
networked contact is
experienced and negotiated through sexuality and race. She traces the 
desire for cyberspace to cyberpunk fiction and maps the 
transformation of public/private into open/closed. Analyzing 
"pornocracy," she contends
that it was through cyberporn and the government's attempts to regulate it
that the Internet became a marketplace of ideas and commodities. Chun
describes the way Internet promoters conflated technological empowerment with
racial empowerment and, through close readings of William Gibson's Neuromancer
and Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell, she analyzes the management of
interactivity in narratives of cyberspace.

The Internet's potential for democracy stems not from illusory promises
individual empowerment, Chun argues, but rather from the ways in which it

exposes us to others (and to other machines) in ways we cannot control.
Using fiber optic networks--light coursing through glass tubes--as
and reality, Control and Freedom engages the rich philosophical tradition

of light as a figure for knowledge, clarification, surveillance, and
discipline, in order to argue that fiber optic networks physically
instantiate, and thus shatter, enlightenment.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media
Brown University. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and
English Literature.

7 x 9, 360 pp., 62 illus., cloth, ISBN 0-262-03332-1

David Weininger
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MIT Press
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Cambridge, MA 02142-1315
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