[Typed on an iPad with minimal proofreading.] Since it was a Saturday, I could use my fiancee’s parking pass downtown. No bus for me!
I almost immediately regretted trying to drive downtown. I got one of the last parking spaces on the roof of the garage, which I only obtained after a lengthy process of abruptly stopping to avoid rear-ending the driversnwho seem to think that you must close every 10-foot gap between you and the car in front of you at 20 mph or more.
Te first session I attended was entitled Tweets from the DMZ: Social Media in North Korea with Jean H. Lee, AP Bureau Chief for North Korea. While there was some interesting “slice of life” information about a Seoul-based journalist’s regular trips to North Korea, it mostly consisted, quite literally, of screenshots of tweets she has sent. I learned some interesting stuff, though. She said that the regime never stops her from taking pictures, but they always know what she is doing. They try to make sure she is “respectful” to her subjects more than almost anything else. South Korea has very strict limits on access to online material from the north. It is apparently illegal in South Korea to access North Korean websites, and the government has a strict firewall in place. It is illegal even to retweet something from North Korea. People in South Korea, she said, must be careful even following people in North Korea. North Korea has a few government-run sites, including Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram. The main goals of these government-run social media sites are propaganda, getting pictures of the leader out, etc. One person, during questions, basically suggested that she was a dupe of Pyongyang, doing their bidding by presenting their side of things, but she disputed this. He even suggested that North Korean agents might be in the room keeping eyes on her. She responding by inviting any North Koreans in the room to stand up and say hello. No one did, and I decided that would be a good time to leave.
Last year, I met some interesting people in the Samsung Blogger’s Lounge, so I headed there next. Let me try to be charitable here……while I recall that they used the room last year both to give bloggers a place to work and socialize and to do webcasts of interviews with people who are “buzzing” at SXSW, this year the interviews were harder to ignore. Impossible to ignore, actually. The host of these interviews is probably a very nice person, but her style is, I dare say, not suited to any room where anyone is expected to pay attention to anyone except her. She’s bubbly, goofy, and loud, is all I’m saying. I was able to finish my Day 1 blog entry, but couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone for long.
I hesitated to attend the next panel, for pretty basic social reasons of taboo and embarrassment. I’m glad I did, because it was one of the best sessions I’ve attended at any conference, ever. Not just because the presenter, Cindy Gallop, has an awesome British accent. The session was entitled The Future of Porn, and the line to get in extended out of the ballroom quite a long way. (She noted that nearly everything she was going to say in her talk could be a double entendre, andit was good to get that out of the way.) This was not a discussion of smut per se. In fact, she maintains that the sites she created, MakeLoveNotPorn.com and MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, are not porn, but “real world sex.” I’m just going to paste some things from my notes (shout-out to Evernote here):
- What happens when you combine easy access to porn online with societal reluctance to discuss sex at all?
- MakeLoveNotPorn compares porn world to real world. Led to TED Talk in 2009.
- Not anti-porn. Issue is lack of honest conversation about sex in the real world.
- Social media platforms generally won’t deal with sex. She wants to “socialize sex.” Launched MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, where people can submit their own videos of real sex. Site is curated, so it’s not like YouPorn. $5 submission/curation fee, $5 rental fee for 3 weeks unlimited viewing, 50% of revenue shared with submitters. The “Etsy of Sexy.”
- Not porn, not “amateur.” They are #realworldsex. Community tells them what real world sex is.
- Real world sex is funny, while porn sex is “earnest.” Sexual equivalent of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
- Real world sex is messy. Porn is “clean,” i.e. hairless, and you never see lube. No sex during periods [Ed. note: no judgment here. Whatever floats your boat.].
- Real world sex is responsible. Porn either doesn’t have condoms, or they magically appear. More condom use if it seems sexy.
- “Lazy person sex” – after long day, really tired, but horny. Don’t want to lift a finger to get off. No representation of that in porn or other media.
- Thumbnails & copy are all SFW, so no one has to slam down the laptop when someone walks by.
- You can make personalized playlists, send them to people. Lets you tell people what you like w/o awkward conversations [Ed. Note: I don’t get how this is less awkward than talking, necessarily, but what do I know?].
- Could be the “Kinsey of today.” Had to design in-system scoring that is easy to use and one-handed. You hit the space bar to say “yes!”
- Porn industry has been supportive. Gen Y in porn has reached out to her (entrepreneurial, ambitious, want to be part of the “new world order” of things.)
- They’re not competing with porn. Most porn labeled “amateur” isn’t.
- One viewer told her “Porn makes me want to jerk off. Your videos make me want to have sex.”
- No bank in the U.S. will work with her because “porn” is in the name. No mainstream payment processor would work with her. Finally got PayPal challenger Douala (?) on board, had to go with a European bank and payment processor.
- Porn is falling prey to the same dynamics as the music and publishing industries. Businesses play it safe by doing what everyone else is doing. Porn’s way of dealing with it is more controversial.
- ***”It’s not that porn degrades women. It’s that business degrades porn” Pushing any business into the shadows enables bad things to happen. She’s trying to change the world through sex, make sex better for everybody. Business world is trying to stop her. She says the business world is driven by men who believe men are their target audience. She listed women entrepreneurs who are doing great work (Nina Hartley, etc.) “Women challenge the status quo because we are never ‘it.'”
- She listed a few other products or sites she felt were worth mentioning:
Vibease – device for couples in LTRs.
Offbeatr – website for sex projects
They Fit – custom-made condoms, no FDA approval in the US
Bang with Friends – launched about a month ago.
- Average age of first seeing hardcore porn online today is 8. They don’t necessarily go looking for it.
- Less than 5% of parents, she says, ever talk to their kids about sex. The talk has changed, as it needs to include discussion of what shows up in porn.
- Legalities: 2 forms of ID, “no children, no poop, no animals.” Brought in adult industry lawyers to help.
- Protecting privacy and IP: members-only site, no way to guarantee no piracy, though. They review everything submitted to the site before posting it. They remove videos on request if a couple breaks up.
- Finance: adult industry-specific companies, payment processors, etc. She wants business partners who get their mission. AI-specific processors think they’re just porn, have extortionate rates. Even they though MLNP was too risky. Company like Manwin has $$$, has easier time with banking.
- None of their videos have an “extraneous” cameraman. Spouse might record other spouse, or person might use webcam.
- Difference between porn and sex ed. Teachers have asked to use MLNP dot com in their sex ed classes. So few people are willing to stand up for these issues, that everyone wants Cindy to do all of it.
A couple of questions stood out. Someone eventually asked if Cindy appears in any of the videos on her site. Less predictably, the questioner was a woman, and the question was asked very earnestly (as opposed to a pervy manner). A mother of teenagers got up and described how her kids have used the family computer to access adult content. She is worried about the false impressions they will get about sex, and so asked about how to use the MNLP video site to give her kids access to more realistic, perhaps even “educational” material. Mom of the Year? Quite possibly.
I could write for weeks about everything I think is wrong in the way we deal with the issue of sex. It’s prety screwed up in most of the world, but I’ll focus on the U.S. Her opening statement summed it up very well, though: we have unprecedented access to “adult” material, and not just through porn, but through an overall sexualization in our culture. At the same time, we still lack almost any ability to discuss it like rational adults, and we still attach ridiculous forms of stigma to people regarding sex. This applies to people who have sex a lot (cf. Sasha Grey), people who don’t have it at all (cf. Lolo Jones), and everything in between. And that’s only covering the conventionally-attractive young white woman demographic. Don’t get me started.
I went to a 15-minute session on copyright law after that. Blah blah fair use and so on. Then I went home to assemble more IKEA furniture.