The Eavesdroppers (1959)

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to update this blog. Here’s the start of the book chapter that I’ll be working on this summer.  It examines the period between 1957 and 1967, when national debate about wiretapping and other forms of electronic eavesdropping reached a fever pitch. The chapter features a really … More The Eavesdroppers (1959)

The Conversnitch

Wired published an article yesterday about Kyle McDonald and Brian House, two artists who recently constructed an eavesdropping device that resembles a household light bulb. When plugged into a lamp or light fixture, the aptly named “Conversnitch” has the ability to listen in on a nearby conversation and then post its contents to a live … More The Conversnitch

Wiretapper (1955)

This is a thing that exists: That’s right: a 1955 film featuring Billy Graham–yes, that Billy Graham–about an electronics engineer named Jim Vaus.  Jim masters the tools of the eavesdropping trade and gets rich by tapping phones for the mob.  But then he decides to give it all up.  Why?  He wants to save his soul.  … More Wiretapper (1955)

Wiretaps: Past and Present, Surveillance and Communications

My new book project is a cultural history of wiretapping and communications intelligence in the United States.  At this early stage of the game, my working hypothesis is that the history of wiretapping comprises a shadow history of communications in modern America.  Cultural contests over wiretapping, which date back to the 1860s, constitute contests over … More Wiretaps: Past and Present, Surveillance and Communications

Eavesdrop (A Blog)

At the suggestion of a few of my colleagues, I’ll be blogging the research for my new book, The Wiretappers: An Intercepted American History, in the “Eavesdrop” section of this website.  Since my ideas on the subject seem to be changing so rapidly–and since wiretapping seems to be in the news so often–I wanted to … More Eavesdrop (A Blog)