In a follow up to my previous post "The true sad reason for the internet", I've just been reading about the meteoric rise in traffic going to social networking sites and a comparative drop in visits to adult sites.
The economist has just published an article about this, but it's subscription only.
So are people getting distracted from porn by social networks?
It's kind of hard to say. I would imagine that a lot of adult hits are moving to P2P sharing networks, which in and of itself would cut down the amount of traffic to actual adult websites.
Perhaps the usual adult site visitor is connecting with real people on social network sites. Maybe there is a large sex element to social networking that I've never considered before.
Taking Second Life as an example, seemingly sex is rampant there.
Regina Lynn from Wired writes about her "how to have great cybersex" workshop at a Second Life convention:
If you've had avatar sex in Second Life, you probably have Stroker Serpentine of Strokerz Toys to thank. Stroker, famous for creating avatar genitals and sex animations and other complex in-world sex tech, accepted the microphone in his turn and began simply, "My name is Stroker Serpentine, and I am a pervert." The audience roared its approval.
So what? Well if things like Second Life are drawing traffic away from actual adult sites, I suppose it can only be a good thing? One would like to think that digital porn is less harmful in the real world than actual porn. Of course the sex industry tends to be the innovator from a technological point of view, and I'm sure that they aren't sitting back and not investigating ways to make a buck from this. Still it may well be a good thing.
Bob Caswell points out that:
I used to make housecalls to fix computers. So many times the problem was porn, not in a "breaking up the family" sort of way but more in a "I ventured off to one site and now my computer is useless because of popups, redirects, and background changes" way. Why must curiosity toward sex be misinterpreted as an invitation for complete loss of control of one's computer?
The idea of sex on the Internet doesn't really bother me. But the idea of sex on the Internet being connected to a virus-like, "we now control your computer" response is extremely annoying. So here's my addendum to the Economist article: If sex is still to be a popular part of the Internet via social networking, that's actually good news when compared to how sex has been handled online before.
Most social networking site I've seen seem to respect the user, something many sex sites still haven't figured out.
I can appreciate this – I've fixed my fair share of computers that have been overtaken by that sort of crap, it always amazes me that people can let things like that happen.
Search vs Adult
Interestingly Hitwise reports that search engines have overtaken adult sites in share among U.K. internet users. In January, search engines accounted for 13.3% of all UK internet visits, compared with 11.5% for adult websites.
So people are spending more time looking for all manner of things, not just sex? Again, I would imagine the bandwidth statistics for P2P sharing would probably alter the balance somewhat, and I don't think that adult net use is going to dwindle any time soon.