To my understanding of Wendy Chun’s book Control and Freedom, she is trying to get at that control and freedom when concerning the Internet is, in a way, representing a human being through a screen. She discusses her point through how computers represent our sexuality and our views on control over freedom or the other way around.
Three main points:
- I think one of Chun’s main points that I could really grab onto was when she talked about Microsoft. “It suggests that you are that all-powerful user Microsoft invoked to sell its Internet Explorer by asking, “Where do you want to go today?” (Page 3). Chun is saying that we as the users have control over the computer and restricts the computer’s freedom of going where it wants to go instead. It’s as if the computer is the slave to us and we control its every movement instead of the other way around. But then she introduces the packet sniffer and states that the computer wanders without the user as if it has a mind of its own.
- “Disciplinary power operated through visible yet unverifiable apparatuses of power that sought to fabricate individuals through isolation and constant examination—it was a power over life” (page 6-7). I think what Chun is trying to explain is that this disciplinary power is what computers work through to power itself and the content it holds. The interesting think that was mentioned, however, is that this disciplinary power is a power over life. Perhaps it is the certain pull or power that the computer has over us. People are constantly glued to the computer screen for unlimited use of the vast Internet system. It is possible that we as users lost that control over the computer and the power system has changed so that the computer is the one in control over us.
- “Sexuality is key to determining the subject—its causality, its unconscious, the truth it holds unbeknownst to itself” (page 12). Chun is saying that technology has a gender in a way. She shows this through the plugs in figure 4 and male/female connectors in figures 2 and 3. Technology is reflected through us as the users and we are reflected in the screen. The computer is constantly growing from the input we put into it and that is slowly giving technology a sexual aspect.
Two confusing aspects:
- There were several confusing parts in this article but the first I want to mention is when Chun states, “Panoptic discipline worked by causing the inmate/worker/student to recreate his or her world, to internalize the light and become light, within an enclosed space” (page 7). I didn’t understand Chun’s argument on panoptic discipline or how it applied to her overall statement on freedom and control. I think if she clearly stated the connection between this point and the overall argument, I would understand what she is trying to get at by mentioning inmates, workers, and students in this article.
- I’m not sure if I was supposed to understand this term before reading the article but what did Chun mean by packet sniffer? “You can track this exchange using a packet sniffer, a software program that analyzes—that is, stores and represents—traffic traveling through a local area network” (page 3). I’m pretty sure I’m just missing something, but I still don’t understand what a packet sniffer is. It threw me off a little from what she was trying to relay to me.
Question to the author:
I’m having a hard time piecing your argument together in terms of the computer. You make many observations, but you lost me as to how this works in a technology sense. How does sexuality work with a computer exactly? Does it affect different genders as they use the device?