Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 18/11/2005 Now it can be told. You may have noticed that we're running a feature about IT in the porn industry.

Friday 18/11/2005

Now it can be told. You may have noticed that we're running a feature about IT in the porn industry. There are many reasons for this — it's an under-covered area, it has driven a great deal of development through its immense popularity, and we're no prudes here at ZDNet UK. And it lets us use things like bondage.com as a sub-head, make jokes about wipe-clean keyboard covers and generally act somewhat beneath our age [Because you don't do that normally? — Ed ].

The fact that we know that any story involving porn does top traffic is neither here nor there – in fact, open source, Bill Gates, robots and porn are all up there as potent hit magnets. I'm still working on the sponsorship deals for "Gates' Sex Android Linux Shame", the story I'm going to write shortly after I work out how to make enough from it to afford the lawyers.

But like any story, our pornography feature needed research. You can't just pump it out. This raised some worries on the edit team that browsing the obvious web sites would trigger all manner of repercussions, as alarms are raised by stern robots checking for porn usage when we should be reading about open source (that's another 1000 hits right there). Reassured by a promise that things Not Safe For Work were Safe For This Sort Of Work, people got the task in hand and pressed on.

There's only so much you can do online, even when writing about online. People have to be contacted. Phone calls have to be made. And these people are not used to having those sort of phone calls. There is room for, shall we way, misunderstanding.

Take this conversation between a ZDNet UK researcher — we'll call her IM, to preserve Ingrid Marson's anonymity — and a male member of staff — let's call him MM — on one of the adult content providers.

IM:"So, tell me, I'm curious. How does your partner feel about you working in this industry?"

MM:"I'm sorry?"

IM:"You know. Your wife or girlfriend or… whoever"

MM:"My girlfriend?"

IM:"Do you have a girlfriend?"

Pause

MM:"Are you asking me for a date?"

Ah, dear. Pixels can only get you so far.

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