Way back in 2006, the Los Angeles Times tracked the impact of the pornography industry on the emerging technology of the time. I’ve written before on the history of the battle between industry giants VHS and Betamax, back in the early days of home video. Back then, when home video was new, someone could purchase an X-rated video on the phone, and have it mailed to his doorstep in a plain, brown wrapper. For the first time, you could purchase sexually explicit videos without being seen publicly, and the industry literally exploded overnight.
Back in those days, in a typical month, 50% or more of the top ten list of bestselling videos were porn. Betamax and VHS were battling it out for industry dominance, and when the porn industry made the decision to move to VHS, they carried such weight, it swung the entire business. Although from a technical standpoint, Betamax was considered a better quality format, it literally died almost overnight.
Then it happened again with the advent of HD, Blu-Ray DVD, and online streaming technology. Few people realize the incredible impact of the porn industry on technology. The fact is, many key technology decisions have been driven by the direction the adult video industry has taken.
The implications for the future are chilling. Pornography has become so pervasive in this country, and so popular in the culture, it’s actually driving technology descisions. The vast audience for downloading this junk is creating such profits for the adult video business that its influence is becoming as powerful as other forms of entertainment.
As a culture, we really need to consider what this means, and how it will impact the next generation. I don’t have the answer, but the more people realize the impact of porn in today’s digital culture, the closer we’ll come to a solution. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them…