opinion

Porn Doldrums

Tom Hymes
I've been working in the porn biz for long enough now to see it devolve from its "historic" role as an acknowledged leader in technological innovation to its current state as a shining example of creative and innovative lethargy. It's like porn has entered into a chronic state of depression. I don't mean depression in the economic sense, but the emotional, though either may work.

Recently, I went to Amsterdam to attend a Webmaster Access event, and this subject was raised in two of the seminars I sat in on and a couple of individual conversations as well. I attend almost all of the shows and as many of the seminars as I can, but I have never heard people talk about the current lack of innovation as much as they have recently.

This sector of online commerce has been so dynamic for so many years that the current doldrums probably feel worse than they really are, but then again maybe something serious is going on. If the very people in the industry who should be coming up with new ideas are decrying the lack of innovation, then something is truly wrong in Denmark.

When I speak of innovation, I do not mean just technological advances. Over the past decade, the online adult industry has been as creative and resourceful with respect to the development of new business models as any online sector out there. But I don't think we can make the same claim today. That goes for creative content too. When a type of content as dull and shopworn as alt is the flavor of the year, you know there's a paucity of serious creative thinking going on.

Of course, what this means to me is that there are now as many if not more fantastic opportunities for people who aren't bogged down by the "traditional" way of doing online webmastering. While the "players" continue to live off the fumes of their past glory, assuming that all the good ideas have been tried and either used to death or discarded, someone out there is coming at the whole shebang with fresh eyes.

We will see more and more so-called web 2.0, 3.0 and maybe even 4.0 rollouts during the final months of this year and well into the next, but if what we have seen of the current batch is an indication of what we will see in the future, the sense of newness surrounding these websites could quickly diminish. On the other hand, user-generated content is not going to go away and neither are online communities, so probably the best incarnation of an interactive experience online has yet to be visualized and actualized.

But will someone from the adult industry take us there? For consumers as well, the whole online porn thing has nowhere near the fascination it had a few years ago, and that's probably a good thing. Now that the average adult webmaster has to actually create a superior online experience for his customers rather than depend on the latest video streaming technology as the main attraction, necessity should create some interesting websites in the coming months and years.

Frankly, I'm glad that the days of over-hyping the supposed technological superiority of the porn industry are over. I never really believed it. What this industry has always done well was adapt new technologies, not create them. There's a big difference.

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