How Porn Built The Internet

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Porn tends to be a fairly polarizing subject. Lots of people like to criticize it on supposed ‘moral’ grounds. I’ve never got that myself, I don’t see why porn should be singled out for particular moral opprobrium. I personally consider it to be a damn sight more moral than many other ‘mainstream’ activities of the capitalist economy such as, mmm…where shall I start, weapons manufacture, selling highly addictive opioid drugs or cigarettes or anything done by the criminal, mafia banking sector. Or Donald Trump.

It also has to be said that porn has always been an engine of social and technological change. Did you know that, for example, that ‘freedom of expression’ as defined today in the US has a lot to do with countless court cases fought by the likes of Larry Flint (as in Hustler magazine) and other pornographers in (particularly) the 1970’s? Did you know that Larry Flint himself was shot and crippled for life by a white supremacist — not because he was peddling porn but because Hustler published an inter-racial sex photo spread?

But I digress — this article is actually about porn as a technological driver. Specifically in respect of the Internet, because, to he truthful the Internet would not exist in present form without porn.

Here’s some porno/Internet firsts…

  • Bandwidth — Until people starting using the Internet to search (it’s still the number one searched item on Google) and view porn, the internet was clunky slow and, well, pretty crap. It was demand for more and better quality porn that pushed the need for a faster Internet. Individuals and companies upgraded their tech and infrastructure to meet/fulfill that need, in the process creating the Internet we know today.

  • Streaming video — the technology that allows this, and would eventually give birth to YouTube and Netflix and the rest, was developed by, you got it, pornographers way back in 1994 (by a Dutch company called red Light District)..

  • E-commerce: In the 1990’s a very clever lady called Danni Ashe launched a retail website that sold softcore porn. The site got a million hits in it first week and was the busiest site on the web for two years. Whats more, Debbie and other pornographers created the technology to allow secure online transactions without which there’d be no Ebay, Paypal, Amazon or online banking.

So, there you go — no porn, no Internet. Even if you’re a rabid, moralist porn-hater you would still have to conclude that, as the Spanish say, ‘no hay nada mal que por bien no venga’ — there is no bad from which good cannot come.

Oh — that’s if you assume that porn is a bad thing and the Internet a good thing…

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