[Ewww, forbidden visuals in that headline, eh? Sorry about that. Anyway....]
But I kept thinking there had to be a way. I kept thinking and thinking until finally I came . . . to the conclusion that, yes, porn is again leading the way.
Over coffee yesterday, London VC, pal, and smart guy Rikki Tahta told me about a BBC series of wacky news reports he saw with a fascinating segment on the business of porn. The show said that as the cost of production has gone down — thanks to inexpensive video equipment and software (sound familiar?) and no end of, ahem, citizen talent … plus, no doubt, the advent of Viagra as a boost to worker productivity — the video industry has been able to make more and more product for less and less money and distribute it directly to consumers via online at a lower and lower cost.
The result: The nichefication of porn.
The reporter showed shelves of videos devoted to any particular taste — say, Asian amputees with small breasts and dwarf black men with big… whatever.
As the cost of production and distribution decreases, the inevitable result in media is nichefication. It is another expression of the need for the people once known as consumers to control their own media.
Which leads me to a new law of media:
Jarvis’ First Law: Give the people control of media, they will use it.
The corollary: Don’t give the people control of media, and you will lose.
Jarvis’ Second Law: Lower cost of production and distribution in media inevitably leads to nichefication.
The corollary: Lower the cost of media enough, and there will be an unlimited supply of people making it.
We’ve seen it in text content online, certainly, and that has exploded with blogs as the costs of production, talent, and distribution approached nil. Next, I now see, we’re witnessing this in porn. Next, we’ll see it come to TV.
That’s not to say that there won’t still be — always be — big stars and brands. This doesn’t replace them. But it does lower the barrier to entry to new producers of programming of every sort for every interest.
You want a show about how to decorate your garage, somebody will make it and somebody will watch it.
Will at TV Harmony disagrees and he’s right to be cautious: Making TV is harder than writing this sentence (which is precisely why I haven’t done more of it!). But it’s a helluva lot easier now than it used to be and it will get even easier and cheaper and so, inevitably, more people will make it.
Here, too, porn leads the way. Look [but only if you're over 18] at the captivatingly bizarre Beautiful Agony, in which real people put cameras on themselves (with no nasty parts showing) as they, uh, think and think until they . . . well, you know what I mean. Or look [but not at work and not if you're under 18] at IShotMyself at Project_ism, in which women of an artsy sort shoot themselves without clothes because… well, I’m not sure why (and not sure I care why). Now imagine if you can reach similar heights of fame and glory without having to get naked or have sex before a camera.
Yes, in the old days, we followed the money. Today, follow the porn.