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August 08, 2011

The Internet is for Porn?

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

I subscribe, look at and try to ingest, digest and make sense of a lot of information every day. In the Internet age, it is how to stay truly current. So imagine my surprise this morning when one of my more trusted sources (after TMCnet.com), BusinessInsider.com, featured the following headline, “15 Things You Need to Know About Internet Porn.” While I am not into prurient interests, this was after all about the Internet. And, I am a huge fan of the hit Broadway musical Avenue Q, especially the melodious rendition of its hit song, “The Internet is for Porn," which is central to the plot. I clicked to the article. To be frank, it says a lot about a lot.

I won’t spoil the experience. Of the 15 reasons, a few struck me:

  • Reason #1: There are more than 26 million porn sites, which equates to 12 percent of total websites.
  • Reason #4: Despite the growth of free porn sites, online porn is a worldwide estimated $5 billion per annum business.
  • Reason #5: 2.5 billion emails per day are pornographic, e.g., 8 percent of all emails.

If you don’t get the picture, try a few choice words in Google (News - Alert) or Bing to find one. Be careful, however, your boss may not appreciate your research.

This now has me to wondering about how people spend their time on the Internet. So at 3:15 PM EDT on August 8, I give you the following two data points to consider:

  • Trending on Yahoo were:

1. Kennedy tapes

2. Nicole Kidman

3. Kate Gosselin

4. Victoria Beckham

5. Stocks

6. Captain Morgan's ...

7. Crude oil prices

8. Small-cap funds

9. Lucille Ball

10. Ethan Hawke

  • Trending globally on Twitter (News - Alert) were:

1. #TabCoSneakPeek

2. #WhyAreYou

3. #ThingsNotToDoOnPublicTransportation

4. #ThroneDay

5. My Lesbian Romance

6. Who Gon Stop Me

7. No Church In the Wild

8. JUSTIN WON

9. Rye Lane

10. Gotta Have It

In other words -- or in no words -- Twitter is world economic crises free. Only three of top 10 on Yahoo are world events related, with the first being #5. Plus there is no mention of the European debt crisis, famine in the Horn of Africa, the U.S. political dysfunction, or the Afghan war. How soon we have forgotten Haiti, Japan, or, for those of us in the U.S., the drought and heat wave in the middle of the U.S. which in many ways is worse than the “dust bowl” of the Great Depression. I guess everyone is either clicking on the links to be entertained in a non-salacious manner (celebrity watching, game playing, etc.), or is busy looking at and sending porn when they are not online shopping.

The good news is that I found a story on Yahoo, not trending but interesting, about how North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, has hired a team of hackers to “gold farm” online game sites to make money. Genius (News - Alert)! I wonder if the European banks and the U.S. Treasury Department have thought about this!

It is more than a bit depressing that the human propensity is to be entertained —I would include social networking, picnic picture sharing, watching YouTube (as some opined, “watching people and animals fall down”), listening to Pandora (News - Alert), etc., in this category.

It is the rare exception rather than the rule that the Internet does what it is really good at: mobilize people to have their communal voices ignite the desire to effectuate change at a time of social unrest. One can only hope that our leaders and their staffs are spending their online time more productively. Unfortunately, given recent events and reading their tweets and press statements, it certainly should give us all pause.

Dow is in the abyss, and the next article of the day awaits. See you on the Internet.


Peter Bernstein is a technology industry veteran, having worked in multiple capacities with several of the industry's biggest brands, including Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Telcordia, HP, Siemens, Nortel (News - Alert), France Telecom, and others, and having served on the Advisory Boards of 15 technology startups. To read more of Peter's work, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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