Is Online Porn Transmogrifying?

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According to this article in The Economist:

… In America, the proportion of site visits that are pornographic is falling and people are flocking to sites categorised”net communities and chat”:chiefly social-networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Traffic to such sites is poised to overtake traffic to sex sites in America any day now.

Does this mean the internet has matured as a medium? After all, pornographic content is often the first to take advantage of new media, from photography to videocassettes to satellite television.”Sex is a virus that infects new technology first,”as Wired put it back in 1993. Once a new medium becomes popular, its usage is no longer dominated by porn. Although this may soon be true for the web, however, it is not true for the internet as a whole. Much pornographic content may simply have shifted from the web to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, for example.

Or consider Second Life, the booming virtual world. It is regularly feted as a flourishing platform for virtual commerce, yet a large portion of its economic activity relates to sex. Exactly how much is unknown, but an employee of Linden Labs, the company behind Second Life, once ventured that 30% of transactions related to sex or gambling. Edward Castronova of Indiana University estimates that sex is”a substantial portion, perhaps even the majority”of economic transactions in Second Life. (Users must first buy genitalia for their avatars, who otherwise resemble Barbie and Ken dolls when unclothed.) …

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