Pornifying the Network


  • Rebecca Holt



Network Experience, Internet Pornography, Cyberporn, Big Data


Watching pornography online is a deeply personal, if not secretive act, yet the ease with which a near-infinite supply of adult content is shored up by networks of shared experiences. In fact, the persistent assumption that consuming adult content is a ‘closed’ experience has largely stunted efforts to reconceptualize online pornography as a “network experience.” As Wendy Chun asks, “Why are networked devices described as ‘personal,’ when they are so chatty and promiscuous?” This article, therefore, attempts to ‘pornify the network’ by tracing the movement, flows, and processual emergence of networks that have been crucial to the formation and continued proliferation of online pornography. Two case studies are used to illustrate the persistence of this framework: the first theorizes ‘edging’ in early online pornography, while the second puts into question the politics of the world’s largest porn website deploying user data for titillating effect. Theorizing a pornified network ultimately reroutes persistent technological imaginaries of the network through affect, sensation, and the entanglements of desire.