Once again, the porn industry is one step ahead of everyone in adapting to changing technology.
Not long ago, the New York Times covered recent changes in the porn industry. The LA Times also covered similar changes for the west coast porn industry. I’ll save you the trouble of reading the articles; here are the two main lessons.
Lesson 1: The internet has forever changed distribution.
But you knew that already. For the porn industry, peak DVD revenue occurred in 2006. Since 2007, industry revenue has declined between 30% and 50%. The impact of the internet here is obvious.
Lesson 2: The internet has forever changed production.
The main vehicle for porn used to be the movie — VHS or DVD. Porn was produced in movie-sized chunks. This requires scrips, a couple of hours of content, editing, packaging, etc.
Today, people consume porn on the internet by the sex scene. Why bother with scripts, DVD packaging, or filler content? Instead, just film the fucking and throw it online one scene at a time.
Porn is now produced in the same format that it’s consumed.
And this has forever changed the industry. Porn stars don’t need to read scripts or learn their lines; they just go straight into the action.
This is the newest lesson from the porn industry. They’ve learned to change their production to match the distribution. And the porn stars, as the articles discuss, are now having to cope with less work, cheaper pay, and more competition.
From what I can tell, most industries have not come to this realization. In fact, the music industry is working on a format for “digital albums” — a sure sign that they’re in denial about the changing nature of music production.
Meanwhile, Radiohead has figured it out. They’ve released their last two tracks individually on the net — one free via bittorrent, the other for pay to a charitable cause. This is a band that understands the new reality of music production.
This new production goes beyond music. Open source software embodies this by gathering the contributions of many distributed programmers into a single project, making the “newest” product available to anyone at any time. Compare that to businesses who throw all their coders into a room and release new versions whenever they feel like.
Similarly, this is the difference between waterfall and agile project management. The waterfall method is great if you’re going to put software on CDs, stick them in boxes, and ship them out on trucks; waterfall emphasizes getting everything done one year after you started.
Agile development is great if you want your customers to get the newest version as fast as you can code. It emphasizes keeping the product ready to ship at any moment (and being able to ship it out at a moment’s notice).
All this is a long way of saying that our means of production haven’t caught up to our means of distribution. If you’re trying to think about the next new thing, think about how you can use technology and the internet to improve production of anything — arts, goods, ideas, bananas.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep my eye on the porn industry in case I stumble upon any new… um… revelations.