Read and interesting essay by Tony Tremblay--brought Freud and McLuhan together to argue that the Internet, as a new technology, a new extension of the self and specifically the nervous system, is an autoerotic technology. Puts the internet in the historical context of the novel and film--both had similar autoerotics properties when first introduced, then regulated (censored, hence cybriety), and then split in roughly two directions: mainstream art and underground. Interesting history of how the film industry fought censorship in the 1970s in order to take advantage of the sensual / voyeuristic properties of film at a time when the industry suffered. Tremblay suspects that the Internet is and will go throught similar patterns--autoerotic, largely unregulated, gives way to regulated mainstream and underground sites. Tremblay also draws on McLuhan's plea to understand media more effectively, and perhaps to disrupt this historical pattern in ways that productively draw on a better understanding of this emerging technology.
Trying to think about how this article will help me understand online poker. All sorts of social stigma associated with poker, and specificially going to the public poker rooms, is removed from online poker (more or less). The pleasure of the game--simple, fast, engaging, erotic--now penetrates wider spectrum of players, drives the poker train. The issue of regulation is hot--still technically not legal in the US, states like ND have debated whether or not to become the hub of legal online gambling, but the state legislature just turned it down this spring, largely based on moral arguments trumping economic arguments, although some argue that a gambling economy is never a good economy. I guess Tremblay's piece should help us understand the regulation issue somewhat: if we understand what the technology is enabling/enhancing, what it is being obsolesced, what is retrieved, what is reversed, we can atleast have a starting point for regulating (or not) online gambling in effective ways. Sin taxes would be a start, although very anti-American. Re-channeling the intellect and energy that is going into online gambling would be useful, but perhaps not realistic. Not letting it go underground /offshore is perhaps a good first step--the marijuana argument, I guess. Put in the context of American moral conservatism, online poker is going to be an interesting challenging to the religous right.