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 “Lenna,” 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.
And the kicker is, not only did sexuality vastly influence the Internet, but the Internet arguably changed modern human sexuality by giving every imaginable non-hetereonormative community a place to explore, fantasize, thrive, and be accepted.
A lively, highly visual history, filled with broad themes and backstories, pioneering personalities and eureka-moments, How the Internet Changed Sex... is a short, serious, and highly entertaining look at the intertwining convergence of sex and the Internet. Written by Samantha Cole, who’s been on this beat as a senior writer for Vice, How The Internet Changed Sex ... covers everything from Jennicam (remember her?) to the problem of “deep fakes,” from “A Brief History of Online Dating” to how the government has been trying to reckon with NSFW content, cybersex to what the promise of VR spaces like the Metaverse hold for the future of human sexual interactions. Porn is the least of it— this is a book about human nature during the digital gold rush of the last fifty years.