Thank God for Porn!

And a disco ball, you can't make this work without a disco ball.
My life is different than yours. You just don’t realize by how much. Today I will give you a helpful example. You already know that I am friends with a man who knits his nipples together for a living. What you do not know is that I am also friends with a priest. See? I bet you don’t have two friends like that. Anyway, the father is a very nice man and has tolerated me for years. Yesterday he asked for some advice about videotaping a group of kindergardeners who were going to be performing Jesus Christ Superstar. I kid. They were going to be performing the Happy Teeth song. An epic in its own right, to be sure. Anyway, during the course of our conversation I wondered aloud if he saw the irony that he was about to memorialize a proud parental moment and would not be able to do so were it not for porn. As it turned out he had no idea what I was talking about and I was forced to explain. I would have thought that, with the Vatican’s legendary porn collection, this might have come up in the seminary but, it appears, I was wrong.

Cezary Jan Strusiewicz has the best explanation I could find.

Nearly the entire technological world as you know it today owes its thanks to pornography: Take VHS for example. Before CDs or DVDs came along, the videotape cassette was the hottest shit since the Human Torch got drunk and binged on Taco Bell Fire Sauce. The idea that you could record and watch movies whenever you wanted was completely unheard of before VHS, and the concept singlehandedly revolutionized home entertainment. But it wasn’t an instant success: Some of the early VCR models cost as much as $800 in today’s money, and that’s not even accounting for the blank tapes, which came at prices up to $50 a pop. And speaking of those blank tapes: The MPAA was so concerned about the ability to copy movies that they not only refused to support the system, but actually called it the Boston Strangler of the movie industry and tried to get it banned in a court of law.

The format had no corporate backing, it was heavily criticized, a bitch to program, and didn’t even come with the Apple logo to help justify spending your kids’ college fund on it. Why the hell would anybody buy it then?

To watch porn, of course.

Up until the end of the 1970s, smut films accounted for well over half of all videotape sales in the United States. In Great Britain and Germany that number was as high as 80%. This is largely because, prior to VHS, the only way to see two naked people boning was either paying to sit in an X-rated movie theater with a room full of lonely men in trench coats or a pair of powerful binoculars. The former was only seriously considered if you didn’t mind accidentally sitting in what-you-will-pray-to-God-turns-out-to-be gum, and the latter required way too much patience for your more casual, weekend pervert. Porn on videotape changed all that, and the public desire for cable repairman schlong pulled the entire format into the limelight.

When the first laser discs were introduced, they offered essentially the same exact thing as VHS tapes. But with prices reaching almost $150 per disc, no amount of improved picture quality could engorge the consumer’s hot, throbbing interest. Then along came DVDs. By making heavy use of their additional content capabilities, like multiple camera angles and deleted scenes, the porn industry helped keep the DVD alive until the prices dropped and the general public could afford to adopt the format.

They very first laser disc produced, and also the very first one I saw, was Debbie Does Dallas. Apropos of nothing the laser disc was owned by a man named Daggy whose best friend was Mr. Splatter. Both men went on to highly successful careers in the high tech industry.

The fact that porn is the engine that drives progress is not news. Back in 2002 cell phone technology was stagnant. Then people started downloading porn and sexting and so on and, suddenly, there was a need for faster and more reliable phones. Forget Steve Jobs, thank Larry Flynt when you use your 3G Phone.

Nick White wants more sex and, unusually for the head of a large London-based mobile-phone firm, is happy to admit it. White knows what turns him on. He wants erotic images and games, he wants sex messages from girlfriends and his virtual mistress, he wants to talk dirty. And he wants it any time, anywhere.

Laura Sigman could have been made for him. Like White, she works in telecoms, thinks about sex all the time and doesn’t mind sharing him with other women. She lives in the US, but plans to come to London this year to talk about sex. White wants to meet her.

White is head of VirginXtras, the adult services division of Richard Branson’s Virgin mobile phone group, while Sigman works for playboy.com, which sells Playboy merchandise, including Playmate images, online. What unites the two executives is not just sex. They want money, too. Yours and mine. And lots of it.

Last year mobile-phone firms spent billions of pounds on networks that will soon allow us to download still and moving images on to ‘third-generation’ handsets that are starting to appear in the shops. Now, to recoup their investment, they are resorting to the oldest sales gimmick in the book to flog the new phones – s-e-x.

Like schoolboys nervously eyeing the top shelf in WHSmith, telecoms executives want to grab a share of the ‘adult services’ market but don’t know how. Sex is the fastest-growing area of third-generation mobile telecommunications research and development.

‘Suddenly, everyone in mobile communications wants to know what the sex trade – or “adult entertainment” as they call it – can do for them,’ says Ben Wood, of Gartner, a Surrey-based IT research and consultancy firm.

That sex sells is scarcely a startling discovery. What is striking, however, is how analysts and executives are acknowledging – for the first time – how important it is when it comes to driving technological advance.

As one senior industry figure put it: ‘For years it has been a dirty secret that one of the key drivers of new consumer technology is sex, pornography. The need to make 3G technology work – and work fast – is exposing that secret.’

From online payment systems to streaming content, porn created them all.

Think of it this way, if you have undergone a medical procedure that required a second opinion or consultation, you owe your health to porn. The ability to transmit large amounts of complex data, such as your MRI results, and simultaneously discuss them with someone anywhere in the world comes directly from the need of millions of men to flog their frog while watching live, sometimes interactive, porn.

All of your popular computer based media files – SWF (from Flash), MOV (from Apple’s Quicktime) and WMV (from Microsoft Windows) – were developed to allow visual images and sound to be transmitted most efficiently. And it wasn’t grandparents looking up the musical version of the bible driving that bus. Nope, it was people pursuing porn.

So, how popular is porn? Ian Cheesman has a stunning example.

The Long, Hard Facts
In the digital age, there is no better snapshot of the zeitgeist than Web search trends. They allow you to view the ebb and flow of fads and news stories, as well as identify moments of hysteria:

If you examine top search trends in the U.S. over the last year an unsurprising amount of traffic was dedicated to coverage of the presidential election. We could have probably saved the electorate a lot of time by declaring Obama the winner when the search term “McCain” was trailing in popularity behind “American Idol,” but apparently the constitution doesn’t have those kinds of provisions.

The Moneyshot
Barack Obama was not only the front-runner for much of the presidential race, he garnered some attention as a “celebrity” along the way, particularly among the young people and internet users.

But it wasn’t enough to make him number one. Most people just didn’t feel they could fully absorb the nuances of presidential politics without rubbing one out first.

To illustrate this, we compared the volume of searches over the last year for “Sex” to those for “Obama” and “Iraq.” We also added “Color Me Badd” because we thought it’d make them feel good just to be included, despite effectively serving as a statistical baseline:

Look a the poor red Obama line, looking like the ocean floor under blue sea of sex. It’s no surprise, considering that in any given second, approximately 372 Internet users are typing “adult” search terms into search engines. Note the brief spike for Obama at point E up there. That’s election day. It took a black man becoming leader of the free world to wrangle the collective consciousness away from sex for roughly 23 minutes.

There’s a great book called The Erotic Engine that details how porn is responsible for more than you could possibly imagine.

I’ll give you one great example. You are reading this. That fact alone, that you can read, is almost entirely attributable to porn. See, back in the middle ages almost no one could read. There weren’t any books and even less of a need. The rich saw no reason for the proletariat to be all uppity and learned and the proletariat had no idea what any of those words meant. Sure some guy named Guttenberg invented a method for printing the bible, but that was of interest only to priests and that one crazy guy who talked to corn. Then, in 1524, along came this guy named Agostino Caracci and he printed a book called “I Modi” (literally “The Ways”). The book contained words and pictures. And, while the pictures were of graphic sex acts, you couldn’t truly appreciate them unless you could read the words. Because, I Modi wasn’t just porn, it was an erotic instruction manual. And if you wanted your special someone to do that special something you needed to be able to explain the steps and you couldn’t do that if you couldn’t read.

Sure Pope Clement VII jailed anyone involved with it and ordered every copy destroyed but that was about as effective as demanding that people stop breathing. It was translated from its original Latin into every European language. But, because it was in Latin, and the bible was in Latin, regular people could read, understand and, eventually, question what they were being taught.

And when people finally realized the true power of literacy there was this fun little thing called The Renaissance.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!

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