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From the moment there was an “online,” there was sex online. The famous test image used by software engineers to develop formats like the jpeg was “Lena,” taken from Playboy’s November 1972 centerfold. Early bulletin boards and multi-user domains quickly came to serve their members sexual musings. Facebook started as a way to rate “hot or not” Harvard co-eds. In fact, virtually every significant development that defines the Internet we know and love (and hate) today—privacy issues, online payments and online banking, dating, social media, streaming technology, mass data collection—came out the meeting of sexuality and technology.
Not only did sexuality vastly influence the internet, but the internet arguably changed modern sexuality by giving every imaginable non-hetereonormative community a safe place to explore, fantasize, thrive, and be accepted. Which of course only led to more exploring, more fantasizing, more thriving.
A lively, highly visual history, filled with broad themes and backstories, pioneering personalities and eureka-moments, How Sex Changed the Internet and the Internet Changed Sex covers everything from Jennicam (remember her?) to deep fakes. And most of what came in between, including “A Brief History of Online Dating” and the promise that VR spaces like the metaverse hold for the future of human sexual interactions.
Porn is just one part of the story. Rather, this is a story about human nature during the digital gold rush of the last fifty years.