The remote working revolution, I've now discovered, owes a lot to technology innovations bought about by the sex industry.
So, what has the sex-sector ever done for us?
Pornography, adult eBusiness and online erotic content may have an uneasy place in society, but its tech innovation has a long legacy:
· Camcorder and VHS video machines were pioneered by the porn sector and the main players keen to get blue content to the mass market as quickly and cheaply as possible.
In the home, the take-up of DVD players was driven by porn consumers because they could skip to and repeat their favourite scenes.
· Watching a lot of Netflix? Pay-per-view cable or satellite TV movies entered the market only after porn firms introduced 'premium' services in hotels and on digital networks. Interactive television, now gaining substantial sponsorship on digital sport channels, was developed to allow consumers to get closer to their favourite porn actors.
· eBusiness has (always) been driven by sexual content. One of the most successful eBusiness sites is Pornhub - Adult Content Website- remains in the UK's Top 20 Websites and generates annual profits of more than $1 billion. In 2019 there were over 42 Billion visits to Pornhub, which means there was an average of 115 million visits per day.
In a bid to prepare for academic teaching in the Autumn, I find myself trawling tech magazines for advice about what to invest in as a home studio set up. My thinking is that if we continue to charge students full fees (apparently 'we' will), then my 'selfies' and audio with my 2014 iPhone are clearly not going to be up to standard.
What the above tells us is research about investing in professional recording equipment would be best spent consulting professionals in the adult sector about their home set up. So, curious, I asked influencers in the world of adult of erotica (pro photographers and models posting on Instagram) what kinds of resources they used. And they shared some helpful links - none of which is adult content and all links are safe for work.
First, perfect lighting set up by TechSmith. Everything from set-up, to glare, to temperature.
Next a link about music videos with home camera set up. Now, I won't be singing in my videos, but I want to look professional and need a decent camera to produce online learning content.
Speaking to my industry professionals, for everything camera, the following blog from B&H photography is an excellent resource from novice to pro - answering my base questions, what do I need to actually buy? And what is worth investing in?
I've not bought a new camera, but found my late father's Canon DSLR and falling down the rabbit hole of tech stuff, I've discovered decent audio recording now really matters to me, so what is the best lapel microphone? Digital Camera World (an unknown space to me before now, thanks new friends) is a great resource with a post about the best mic for vlogging (and beyond).
Not via professionals in the online adult industry, but instead a sound and music engineer, who highly recommended a decent camera tripod and backdrop. I had not head of Manfrotto as a brand - and I took a leap and invested in a tripod and Lastolite backdrop. YIKES. Link to buying guide by Digital Camera World is here.
There's a deliberate tease in this post leading from tech innovation into the above links that [maybe] I would have stumbled across with a bit of research into "cameras", "lighting", "sound", "backdrops"... am I missing anything?... but what was useful in reaching out to professionals in the adult industry was hearing about their confidence in their own home set-ups.
Where I've had conversations about creating content online learning with academic colleagues, we are (at best) stumbling through what to do, and very few have any established home set up for recording. Writing this post it feels inevitable that investment in a 'home set up' will become a necessary part of being an academic. Especially if the public rhetoric sticks that is faculty who will be responsible for delivering professional online teaching equivalent to the campus experience - minus the time, the training and technology to do it.
In a bid to relieve some of this anxiety, it is a privilege to be able to make a few key purchases to bring home up to some kind of 'pro' standard and I am fortunate I can make this investment.
I remain, however, uneasy. Yes, I can record from home, but there are few moments when there is the 'quiet' required to produce content. While I am camera ready, there will be interruptions from my four-year old daughter, and the general 'noise' at home will form to a backdrop to this content. I am also not a professional online teacher. A technology enthusiast, certainly, but not an online pedagogical expert.
My fear is that in attempting to alleviate some of the pressure to produce professional looking content, in making these key purchases, I have lost sight of the pedagogical; misplaced the need for support of both students and staff; and mistaken 'online' for 'innovation'. And that is where the adult industry can't help us.