Unofficially, the VentureBeat staff files any post related to sex under a nonexistent “PornBeat” category. But this doesn’t mean these aren’t legitimate tech stories. It does, however, mean that we’ve worked harder to legitimize sex-related stories by reaching out to the entrepreneurs or creators responsible — all of whom were very eager to chat.
The stories listed below don’t quite prove the old theory that pornography drives all technological advances, but they do show that wherever innovation thrives, you’ll find a pornographic application or element to it (aka the Internet’s Rule 34).
Bateflix: A Netflix search engine for finding nudity
Billed as Instant Watcher meets Mr. Skin, BateFlix provides you with a way to search for nudity within the films available on Netflix’s streaming video library. I reached out to the creator of the site, who said he was shocked more people weren’t using Netflix’s API to do interesting things like this. You can search for specific sexual acts, nudity of men or women, and more. It even has a rating system to tell you the quality of the movies in regard to the nudity.
PETA buys an .XXX domain, launches unsexy site
Animal-rights activist group the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was among the first crop of organizations to stake its claim on a new .xxx top-level domain last year. The .xxx top-level domain is (in theory, anyway) intended to be popular among adult-focused sites that offer pornographic content, but that’s certainly not a requirement. This year, peta.xxx went live. It really, really was not all that sexy, according to VentureBeat’s Meghan Kelly.
Sex.com & Snatch.ly: Pinterest for pornography
Pinterest’s mega-growth in popularity spawned dozens of copycats and inspired many companies to apply its design principles to their own sites. As VentureBeat’s Sean Ludwig writes, Pinterest is largely popular with a female demographic, so a large opportunity exists to find a way to make it appeal to (more) men. Enter both Snatch.ly and Sex.com. Sean interviewed the founders of both sites about their decisions to become a “Pinterest for pornography.” Will they succeed? We’ll just have to check back in 2013.
3D printers and the future of sexy toys
By my observations, the advent of 3D printing technology (using plastic and other materials to create things from a device similar to how you would print a document) came with a gross overreaction that a flood of fake guns would overwhelm authorities. Fast forward months later and the news cycle has shifted to another touchy but far less violent subject: 3D printers and the sex toy industry. VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton interviewed the creator of MakerLove, a website whose operator posts sex toy designs for 3D printer owners to try out. It might seem like a ridiculous concept, but read the story: It’s much more clever than you might think.
Reddit tightens its rules on pornography
In February, community news-sharing site Reddit started to crack down on the underbelly of sexual fetish communities that had set up shop on the site. One of Reddit’s steps included banning anything that was questionably illegal, which was brought to a head by CNN’s Anderson Cooper calling out the JailBait subreddit for implying that it held nude photos of underaged teens. The site’s managers went back and forth on the decision a few times before ultimately deciding that it wasn’t worth ruining their reputation to keep it up.
A full eight months later, Gawker uncovered the identity of one of the unnofficial “police officers” of these seedy subreddits: Michael Brutsch, who went by the username ViolentAcrez on Reddit. In a followup interview, Brutsch proceeded to drag Reddit’s name through the mud, but the site’s previous stance on the issue gave it some protection against claims that Reddit proper was working to keep this questionably indecent sexual content flowing on the site. Reddit dodged a bullet for now, but sexual misconduct on community news sites is an issue we’re likely to encounter again in the future.
Microsoft bans pornography (and nudity) in the cloud
Did you know you’re not allowed to send or share anything with nudity on Microsoft’s cloud service, Skydrive? Well, you can’t, and the company routinely performs scans to ensure you’re not violating the rules, which it insists it does to prevent illegal activity. What’s worse, though, is if you get banned from your Skydrive account for breaking the rules, you also lose access to any other Microsoft service that’s connected to Skydrive (Outlook/Hotmail, Office 365, and so on). VentureBeat’s Sean Ludwig even put together a list of competing cloud services’ stances on sharing pornography and nudity.
Search.xxx: The Google of pornography search engines?
ICM Registry, the company responsible for managing the new .xxx top-level domain addresses, launched the pornography search engine Search.xxx back in September. We spoke to the ICM, and it said it intends to intends to make looking for online adult entertainment safer and easier to access. And if you’re managing a top-level domain targeted at the adult industry, such as .xxx, why not do something to cater to that specific client base? Check out the article for a full explanation.
Honorable Mention: Microsoft apologizes for sexing up the cloud (video)
In a world full of motion-sensing Kinect technology, iPhones, and smart thermostats, it’s hard to make something like a cloud-computing platform exciting. But that didn’t stop a European marketing firm hired by Microsoft from trying to make its cloud-platform Azure seem sexy at the Norwegian Developers Conference in Oslo earlier in the year. The marketing firm hired dancers and played an inappropriate, developer-related rap song that ruffled some feathers and prompted a public apology from Microsoft.
Robot bumping & grinding photo by Tom Cheredar/Flickr