A Porn Site Shows You Strangers' Searches In Real Time (Not Even Remotely Safe For Work)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 10:51 AM

(PornMD)

The website PornMD, which is a search engine for the major free porn sites, has unveiled a new feature that shows you the text of other people's porn searches in real time.

This blog post has taking me much longer to write than I expected to because I keep getting enthralled by the scroll of keywords that PornMD displays. 

My colleague Alex Goldman told me he thinks of this as "a mesmerizing stock ticker of the world's perversions." I agree, and at the risk of sounding like a total dummy for waxing rhapsodically about a smut index, I find something human and affirming about it.

While we share most things online, porn consumption is one of the few online media consumption experiences that usually remains private. Very rarely will someone "Like" a porn website on Facebook, or tweet a link to some great porn they enjoyed. 

It's nice to see an anonymous broadcast of the desires of our digital friends and neighbors. And if you're a soft-brained humanities person like me, you immediately start imputing stories onto these tiny little fragments. Is the person searching for gay male porn in the "Straight" section because he's closeted? Or is he possibly a gay dude who isn't great with computers? Or: what strange, random thing happens in someone's life to give them a fetish for bears (the animal, not the colloquialism)? 

There's also certainly a more cynical post to be written about how companies (porn and other-wise) present the public with data about their users' habits to gin up free publicity, and we can't know whether that data is accurate or argue about whether it ought to be shared. But let's be cynical about this tomorrow, and just enjoy the colossal weirdness of it today. 

(h/t Robyn Caplan) 

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Comments [3]

Jo Dollarhyde

PJ, ran a little scientific experiment for you on PornMD. You're more popular there than I thought!

Mar. 29 2014 02:53 AM
even from Oslo

> Very rarely will someone "Like" a porn website on Facebook, or tweet a link to some great porn they enjoyed.

I don't think this necessarily holds true for all places and all times. A couple of weeks ago I put together a wee experimental image viewer for the realtime Twitter streaming API. The amount of smut and nsfl imagery right off the public feed was surprising. I would hazard around 5%. So this seems to be part of the vernacular for some. Sorry about the presentation, but I thought it suited the subject matter at the time.

http://makuro.bengler.no:8000/

Feb. 25 2014 02:06 PM
Orwelian84

Not that I know from first hand experience >.> <.< , but IIRC many many porn sites display the videos that people are actively watching on the site at that moment.

As an aside, I think that while some might be concerned about being judged by others for their particular "tastes", the sharing of this kind of information helps to normalize it and hopefully destigamtize it.

The potential for societal shaming drives people into isolation. If we all were a little more accepting of different sexual preferences maybe many of the harms associated with some of those preferences might be reduced or even extinguished. But as a general rule we fear that which we do not know or understand.

In group/out group tension necessarily requires a lack of knowledge which leads to a diminished "emotional" connection to individuals in the out group.

By sharing real time searches, and even real time personal information, one might expand the boundaries "circle of cooperation".

This expansion would occur in not just the sexual space, but in all other spaces where these individuals are normally excluded, either because of perceiving themselves as part of the our group or being perceived by society as part of the out group.

In group out group tensions and the potential for expansion of cooperation through popping filter bubbles are why I am extremely fascinated by the use of real time search in services like this and Google Trends.

Feb. 25 2014 11:41 AM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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