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Control and Freedom:Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics

Cover Image Copyright Year: 2008
Author(s): Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Publisher: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Communication, Networking & Broadcasting
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Abstract

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 explores 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 examinations 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 of 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 metaphor and reality, Control and Freedom engages the rich philosophical tradition of light as a figure for knowledge, clarifica tion, surveillance, and discipline, in order to argue that fiber-optic networks physically instantiate, and thus shatter, enlightenment.

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      Front Matter

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): i - 35
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half-Title, Title, Copyright, Contents, Preface, Acknowledgments, Half-Title, Introduction, Interlude View full abstract»

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      Why cyberspace?

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 37 - 76
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Where's the Space?, Cyberspace Now, Timing Space, Othering Space, Gawkers, Controlling Code, The Power of Touch View full abstract»

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      Screening pornography

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 77 - 127
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Exposed, or the Walls of the Home Cannot Hold, The Will to Knowledge, Pornocracy, In Public View full abstract»

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      Scenes of empowerment

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 129 - 170
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: The Race for Users, Digital Dividends, Refusing Markets View full abstract»

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      Orienting the future

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 171 - 245
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Desperately Seeking the Matrix, Looking Back, Who's Zooming Who?, Going Native View full abstract»

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      Control and freedom

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 247 - 297
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Paranoid Musings, Paranoid Authority, Freedom: What You Cannot Not Want, Webcams, or Democratizing Publicity, Freedom View full abstract»

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      Epilogue

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 299 - 302
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      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 explores 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 examinations 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 of 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 metaphor and reality, Control and Freedom engages the rich philosophical tradition of light as a figure for knowledge, clarifica tion, surveillance, and discipline, in order to argue that fiber-optic networks physically instantiate, and thus shatter, enlightenment. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      References

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 303 - 326
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      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 explores 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 examinations 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 of 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 metaphor and reality, Control and Freedom engages the rich philosophical tradition of light as a figure for knowledge, clarifica tion, surveillance, and discipline, in order to argue that fiber-optic networks physically instantiate, and thus shatter, enlightenment. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Index

      Wendy Hui Kyong Chun Page(s): 327 - 352
      Copyright Year: 2008

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      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 explores 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 examinations 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 of 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 metaphor and reality, Control and Freedom engages the rich philosophical tradition of light as a figure for knowledge, clarifica tion, surveillance, and discipline, in order to argue that fiber-optic networks physically instantiate, and thus shatter, enlightenment. View full abstract»