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I recently read that the pornography industry contributed to technical innovation. What the heck are they talking about? Do these companies have R&D budgets?

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What do you think drove the rise of the Internet? I used to say this all of the time, back in the day. Pr0n is what fueled the Internet. –  George Marian Feb 21 '11 at 2:29
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youtube.com/watch?v=1bQo05WkHyc –  Orbling Feb 21 '11 at 3:16
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They've vastly improved popup filters via necessity generation. –  Orbling Feb 21 '11 at 3:18
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Innovation isn't just about R&D budgets. –  Andrew Grimm Feb 21 '11 at 7:50
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@Orbling, a youtube link on a question about teh pr0nz, probably needs at least some explanation on what to expect :) –  StuperUser Feb 21 '11 at 10:37
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7 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

AFAIK, the porn industry does not itself contribute to the technical development, but they are early adopters of new technology, and the choices made by the porn industry can help determine which of two competing technologies will "win".

For example, many years ago when VCRs were starting to get widely used, there were two competing standards, VHS and Betamax. According to legend, the porn industry decided to use the VHS standard, and that was the determining factor in which of the two competing technologies would win.

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pr0n drives adoption of innovation through the money they invest in new things that might drive their business. And it's a very big business, probably the single biggest one on the net (ahead of games, even). –  jwenting Feb 21 '11 at 13:15
    
Hard to choose just one answer but this clarifies the difference between inventing and adopting. Thanks. –  Scant Roger Feb 22 '11 at 4:16
    
Didn't the adult industry choose HD-DVD over Blu-Ray? Sot either they lost that power, or it was just a coincidence with VHS. –  jonescb Mar 8 '11 at 20:10
    
@Jonescb, I've heard the opposite... major adult distributors chose blu-ray. including one with ties to a family company that rhymes with 'Bizney'. –  DevSolo Mar 8 '11 at 21:08
    
@jonescb - I heard the same, the porn industry mostly chose HD-DVD. But in this particular case, I think that the PS3 was the determining factor in which standard won. If MS had included HD-DVD instead of selling it as an add-on, I think things would have looked differently today –  Pete Mar 9 '11 at 10:45
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The Big ones are Online Payments and Streaming Video

http://www.pcworld.com/article/155745/thank_you_porn_12_ways_the_sex_trade_has_changed_the_web.html

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+1 For a great link. –  George Marian Feb 21 '11 at 2:29
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Hi Morons. Cool link. I noticed that porn companies are being sued for patent infringement on streaming content, so was that one of their creations or did they just put it to good use? Were online payments created specifically to pay for porn? –  Scant Roger Feb 21 '11 at 2:36
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@scant The linked article answers both of those questions. –  George Marian Feb 21 '11 at 2:55
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http://www.cracked.com/article_18888_5-ways-porn-created-modern-world.html

Cracked covered (quite humorously) five ways that porn helped create the modern world through advancing technology by early adoption and promotion.

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Loved that article :D –  Davor Ždralo Feb 21 '11 at 10:39
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Please summarize the article in your answer. Links come and go and your answer may become useless in the future if Cracked changes their link structure. –  Anna Lear Feb 21 '11 at 15:57
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The contribution of the pornography industry to many fields of technology is sometimes called "The Rule of First Adopters". For example, TV Tropes refers to it that way. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheRuleOfFirstAdopters

I have a suspicion religious groups may also be early adopters, strangely enough.

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Please summarize the content of the link in your answer. Links come and go and your answer may become useless in the future if TvTropes changes their link structure. –  Anna Lear Feb 21 '11 at 15:57
    
@Anna Lear: Is what I've got now more suitable? –  Andrew Grimm Feb 21 '11 at 21:27
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That's better. Thanks! –  Anna Lear Feb 21 '11 at 21:53
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someone said that porn is like the microphone check of any new technology - if there's porn on it, then it works. political groups are the next test level, if they're using it, then it's probably good for something.

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microphone check? I like that analogy... "testing. one, two, threesome. testing..." –  Andrew Heath Mar 9 '11 at 6:48
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On a somewhat parallel line, at one time the amateur text adventure/interactive fiction community had a lot to learn about non-player character design and implementation from the Adult Interactive Fiction community (yes, pornographic text adventures). After all, porn is primarily about interactions with two or more people.

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... though not specifically but mostly for people who suffer from not enough interactions with other people. :) –  maple_shaft Jun 10 '11 at 15:57
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