Archive for the ‘sex’ Category

Sex and technology and culture, oh my!

September 29, 2011 1 comment

If you’re in San Francisco this weekend, here’s something for you: the Arse Elektronika conference on sex, technology, culture and class.

Put on by monochrom, an “art-technology-philosophy group,” the conference brings together experts to discuss some rather tantalizing questions about the above topics. As the event’s website describes it, Arse Elektronika seeks answers on questions such as:

Is there working class, middle class and upper class porn? How does the commercial sex industry reproduce and enforce racial, gender, and class exploitation and dominance? How do people use sex and sexual technology to transgress or change social status? How can DIY porn and sex tech counter the social injustices reproduced by the commercial sex industry? Does gay porn make use of the class, race, and power tropes found in heterosexual pornography, and if so, how?

The event kicks off on Thursday with the Prixxx Arse award for “sex machines, orgasmotrons and teledildonics,” with workshops following throughout the weekend on such varied topics as “Make Your Own Mind Controlled Dildo,” “Proverted Pastimes: Orgasms and Gameplay” and “What Does it Mean to be a Technosexual?”

If I were anywhere near San Francisco, I’d be there in a heartbeat as much of the conference touches on things found in Sex, Bombs and Burgers. Alas, I’ll be about as far away as possible, camping in Algonquin Park. Can somebody check it out and fill me in?

Categories: sex

Cable providers owning up to porn, but is Netflix the cause?

August 11, 2011 3 comments

Well, well, well, if it isn’t porn coming out into the sunlight.

That was my thoroughly surprised reaction to seeing a recent Wall Street Journal story about how television providers are blaming lower pay-per-view revenue on the fact that fewer people are ordering porn.

According to the story, both satellite provider DirecTV and cable company Time Warner cited “lower adult buys” for shrinkage in their latest quarterly PPV revenue. People are, of course, getting their smut on the internet so they’re not buying nearly as much of it as they used to.

“There’s been a fairly steady trend over some time period now for adult to go down largely because there’s that kind of material available on the internet for free,” said Time Warner Cable’s CEO Glenn Britt on a recent conference call.

To say that TV executives talking openly about how porn affects their business would be an understatement. Porn has, of course, been a massive generator of revenue for as long as cable has been around (it’s covered in Sex, Bombs and Burgers). But for the better part of 50 years, it has also been the industry’s dirty little secret. Just like the hotel chains, who have historically also made a pile of money from porn, nobody was supposed to talk about the “goose that laid the golden egg.” My, how the times they are a-changin.’

The clue as to why TV providers are opening up about this can be found in the WSJ story. “This should be a cautionary tale for the larger content community,” one unnamed cable executive told the newspaper. “This content is devalued to our customers because of the alternative models.”

In other words: content creators better start taking steps to ensure that their shows and movies aren’t being given away too cheaply online because it will hit the cable and satellite providers, which will ultimately come back to bite the creators themselves.

That can be taken as a thoroughly veiled swipe at Netflix, which is proving to be a significant thorn in the side of the old TV guard. It’s a tune the likes of Time Warner and HBO have sung openly before, but it’s pretty incredible that porn is now being added to chorus.

Categories: netflix, sex

Sex is good for you - if you’re a worm

July 13, 2011 4 comments

A new report in the journal Science postulates that having sex is healthier for worms than reproducing asexually, the BBC reports. There’s probably many ways to make that sound dirty, but I’m not going to go there.

Researchers at Indiana University engineered two sets of round worms - some that could only reproduce by having sex and those that could only clone themselves. They found that the ones that got it on lived while those that didn’t croaked.

This led the scientists to theorize that the resultant intermingling of genes from sex resulted in worms being able to fight off parasites better. In other words, their genetic structures got stronger from sex.

Cue the misinterpretations. My favourite was a headline on a story from TG Daily: “Scientists say sex is key to evolution.”

I’m no scientist, but if I understood the experiment correctly, that headline might be correct… if the words “for worms” were appended. Last I checked, humans can’t - and never have - been able to reproduce asexually. Cue the dirty jokes.

Categories: sex

Why porn sites don’t do well in Google searches

May 26, 2011 1 comment

It’s going to be a really short post today as I spent most of the day yesterday at the Mesh web conference. The other day a Googler made me aware of the video below, starring Matt Cutts - Google’s search engine optimization master - explaining why porn sites generally don’t do well in its page rankings. Hint: it’s all about how many other websites link to them, which is generally not many. Check it out, it’s illuminating.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a regularly scheduled post.

Categories: Google, search engine, sex

Writing and porn: not so different online

May 25, 2011 Comments off

The Mesh web conference kicks off in Toronto on Wednesday and yours truly will be taking part in a panel discussion titled “How Adult Entertainment is Reshaping the Internet – and vice versa.” The discussion will be moderated by Mark Evans, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with both at The Globe and Mail and the National Post, while fellow panelists will be Patchen Barss and Allison Vivas. I’ve talked about Patchen and his book The Erotic Engine before while Allison is president of Pink Visual, an adult entertainment company I’ve grown quite fond of (I’ve never actually seen any of their content, but I like the people who run the company).

It’s funny because I’ve been thinking lately about the changes that the profession of writing is currently undergoing. From journalism to book writing, things are very much in a state of flux thanks to the internet. The old ways of making money are rapidly disappearing, while the new ways - if there ever will be such a thing - are not yet completely apparent. In that way, the businesses of writing and pornography are not all that different.

I’ve jokingly compared journalists and porn stars before - we both deal in inches and we both screw people for money - but there is actually a serious side to it. As the media industry-watching folks at Poynter have suggested, both industries are currently plagued by the notion of “free” - people have become accustomed to getting both their news and their porn for free, which is really messing with the economics of how to supply either.

I documented the porn industry’s problems in a lengthy piece for earlier this year. In the writing business, this is having some really bizarre effects - some of which I’ve directly experienced in the six months since going freelance. Generally speaking, the news outlets with the biggest audiences and largest reach tend to pay the worst. Indeed, the Huffington Post - one of the biggest news sites around - has achieved some notoriety for achieving its status on the backs of bloggers who worked for free, some of whom are angry that the site was sold to AOL for hundreds of millions. Print publications, meanwhile, tend to pay better even though their readership isn’t at the same level as these larger sites. That seems pretty skewed, although it’s probably still reflective of the fact that while advertising is migrating to online, a good chunk of it still resides in print.

In light of that weird fact, I’ve started to wonder about whether writing isn’t where writers are ultimately going to make their money. Regardless of whether they’re suing the Huffington Post or not, a good many people wrote for - and continue to write for - that site and others like it for little or no pay. They do it for other reasons; some like writing for fun while others like the exposure that such a giant site gets them. In that vein, writing is almost a form of advertising for the individual that - hopefully - leads to income coming from other sources.

Over the past few months, I’ve been invited to take part in some workshops and speaking engagements, all of which have called on my expertise - real or alleged - on certain subjects. Some of them were paying gigs that actually paid better than a lot of the writing jobs I’ve taken. And indeed - by earning income from these sources, I’m freed up to write more of what I want, which means I can take on jobs that pay less, if anything. Most importantly, I’m freed up to embark on entrepreneurial writing, which is sort of how I describe writing books these days.

I’ve blogged before about the revolution the book business is going through and it seems to me the changes there are a little clearer to predict than in the journalism world. Under the old system, authors would get paid in advance of writing a book, which supported their effort. Under the emergent self-publishing system, that dichotomy is flipped - authors earn their money after they write the book. It’s clearly a higher risk, but it holds the promise of a much better payout, as a piece in the New York Times recently spelled out.

Book writing is necessarily becoming more entrepreneurial, which is both good and bad. Ultimately, writers are earning far more freedoms and opportunities, but the downside is they’re having to become more than just writers. Some may hate that, but I quite like it.

Perhaps the answers for the porn business are similar. Here’s a crazy suggestion: what if porn stars were to accept that the sex they have on video is done for free, with their income coming from other places? For example, let’s say a gal starts her own site where she posts videos of herself having sex for free. It’s not hard to imagine that such a site would become successful, making the proprietor a star pretty quickly. The gal could then use her fame to book herself into well-paid appearances at strip clubs across the land. In other words, she’d be a highly paid stripper - the porn is just the advertising vehicle. It’s the “freemium” idea taken to its extreme.

The effects of such a scenario would be similar to the book business: the entrepreneur (porn star/author) would keep most of their earned income while the distributor (porn company/publisher) would be cut out of the equation. I know a lot of authors like the idea. I wonder what porn stars might think?

Categories: journalism, Pink Visual, sex

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