opinion

Market Chaos

Tom Hymes
The odd thing about living in a constant state of chaos is that one gets used to it. Many of the people who work in adult know what I mean, especially those who toil online.

Our landscape is always changing, the ground beneath us always shifting and the quality that many people seem to cultivate and admire most is the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently to ever-evolving market realities. After all, those realities don't ask for our permission to exist; they don't care. It is our job to serve their needs.

One wonders, then, if in light of the recent economic meltdown whether the mainstream captains of industry are sufficiently versatile to be able to stay abreast of market realities. Indeed, they really need to be ahead of the game rather than abreast, but for argument's sake let's hold them to a slightly lesser standard.

Unfortunately, even with such largesse the nation's leaders appear to be seriously, perhaps fatally unable to... lead. Instead, they are acting as if the failure of commercial and investment banks and the bursting of the housing bubble took them by surprise. I say acting as if because I don't really believe that many of them did not see it coming, though one is hard pressed to explain why dire warnings were not sounded much sooner.

I believe similar impulses have been at work within the adult entertainment industry, where market forces that are for all intents and purposes obvious and unavoidable have been essentially ignored for far too long. Perhaps it's normal behavior to stick with what's worked in the past, but I am here to say that in a digital economy praying for the old days to return is tantamount to suicide.

The problem is that we are all in uncharted territory, and no one has a rule book that outlines how to proceed. Instead, we have to resort to basic economic fundamentals combined with a ruthless ingenuity and fearlessness. These are I believe the current requirements for success in business.

But even with those qualities, the challenges that face us are monumental. The value of products and services is uncertain precisely because of the changing relationship between producers and consumers; add to the mix a world market that encompasses different economic structures and it becomes even more difficult to create a reliable picture that allows for confident predictions.

One of the pundits presented it this way on one of the TV news programs this weekend; there are two basic reactions to the credit and housing disaster. The first are people who announce with certainty what has happened and what will happen. The second are people who try to explain how we got here but have no clue what will happen. The first group hasn't a clue what they are talking about, the second a realistic grasp of the situation.

It is at times like this that I am glad to have spent the past 9 years working in the adult Internet industry. I believe I am better equipped because of it to deal with the meltdown of the old system, which is what I think we are seeing.

It doesn't mean I will survive it, but it may mean that my sense of comfort with utter chaos will hold me and those who share that comfort in much better stead than the traditional old-school types who are now running around like chickens with their heads cut off, asking us to trust that this time they have finally learned their lesson.

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