Chapter One, “First Contact,” exposes how sex and sexuality ground theoretical, popular and engineering representations of telecommunications networks and reads these representations for their use of light.  Specifically, I argue that these representations offer two narratives of the Internet as public sphere:  one, that the Internet enlightens its users; two, that the Internet exposes its users to the seamier side of human sexuality and to another’s all-seeing voyeuristic gaze.  I then argue that these twin narratives of enlightenment and of panopticism link fiber optic networks to Kant’s and Bentham’s dreams of creating well-lighted public spaces and citizens.  At the same time, however, fiber optic networks call into question the separation of public and private, since they offer a new window into the home that, through its interactivity, threatens to breach the home’s walls.  Extending Foucault’s analysis of sexuality and surveillance, I argue that, in the Age of Fiber Optics, one experiences this remapping of the public and private as an intensification of the body, as sexuality.  However, given that the public is profoundly the space of the other—a space that belongs to no individual but marks the limits of the individual—I argue that this new sexuality threatens the cohesiveness of the individual. 

Introduction (pdf)
Chapter Two, "Pornocracy"
Chapter Three, "High-Tech Orientalism"
Chapter Four, "Stroking Keys"
Work Cited (pdf)
Appendices (pdf)