'How Sex Changed the Internet, and the Internet Changed Sex': a review of Sam Lee Cole's new book

tl;dr: Superb. Buy it, if you are interested in either or both sex and the Internet.

I’ve long been a fan of Sam Lee Cole’s writing. She’s funny, erudite, tech savvy, and just so darned readable.

And her book - “How Sex Changed the Internet, and the Internet Changed Sex” which, as the title subtly indicates, as is about sex and the Internet - does not disappoint.

I’m pretty familiar with the subject matter, (and, frankly, the Internet has had a massive, positive impact on my sex life and education), which sometimes bodes poorly for enjoying a book, but I greatly enjoyed it, and read it cover to cover over a couple of evenings.

If this isn’t an area in which you’re particularly well versed, Cole covers key themes in a clear, accessible, and always interesting manner, and if you, like me, are familiar with it, you’ll find plenty of geeky details and suggestions for further reading.

I was pleased - although not surprised - to see how much of the book was the product of interviews with people involved, in particular, sex workers. A narrative of their history demands their inclusion, and Cole gets this, clearly.

It’s a multi-faceted book, covering more than just tech - its big themes are about empowerment (and disempowerment / censorship / harm), and societal impact, as well as law and ethics.

It’s funny, frank, and it flows from one chapter to another beautifully. Honestly, this would make for a fantastic series of videos.

I was a little surprised that audio porn (e.g. Girl On The Net’s project) was not mentioned, given its current popularity. But that aside, it covers pretty much every technological innovation to do with sex and the Internet that you might imagine (or recall).

This is one of the best books I have read recently and, honestly, it is a bargain at £10 for the Kindle version.

(Disclaimer: I’ve chatted with Sam quite a lot online, and had a fascinating and fun video chat with her not long before her book was released. But I bought my copy, and this is my genuine opinion.)