(Don’t) look this way

The New York Times has a fun article (with unusual photos for the staid Times!) about the relationship between HDTV and the pornography industry, of all things. Apparently the high-definition nature of high-definition TV is showing up physical ‘issues’ (like having anything that is not Barbie-like, one presumes) in a way that the thespians of the blue movie scene are not happy about. There’s talk of an increase in plastic surgery and so on. Scary stuff.

Anyone who is involved in writing about new media or technological ‘change’ is familiar with the way that the ‘adult market’ is home to many early adopters of new technologies, and indeed how demand for porn can be a driver of otherwise untested or marginal platforms. Everything from broadband to premium phonelines can be squeezed into this category. It also fits well into a social-shaping approach; take for example this audio report from US public radio a few years ago, headlined “Is Pornography Driving Technology?” – a welcome change of tone from the normal technology-drives-porn discourse. Or better still, technology leads to accidental access to pornography (with the delightful filename of ‘smut.htm’. Hee hee.) But technology-influencing-porn-content is a newer direction, and an interesting tangent to the ongoing discussions that we’re familiar with.

Turns out, though, that Sony (who are leading the Blu-ray consortium, developing one of the competing high-definition disc formats) are trying to prevent the adult industry from using BluRay at all. Apart from reminding us of the importance of open standards and not allowing individual corporations to control access to technology while allowing them to ‘set the standards’, it also gives a possibility that the fact that the smut-fans, flocking to HD-DVD as a result, will again play their traditional role in the shaping of technological adoption!

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