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REDEMPTION IS SWEET! The MySpace Shot Wins For Girls

January 25, 2010 Culture, web 1 Comment

The folks at OKCupid have been busy these past few months data mining to help us figure out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to luring lovers on dating sites.

Their findings, which appeared last week on their official blog reveal all kinds of fascinating things, the most shocking of which I present to you here.

MYTH: Don’t use a phone or webcam pic on your profile.

“The rationale behind this myth seems solid: cell-phones and webcams take low-end photos,” says Christian Rudder, OKCupid’s editorial director and co-founder of the site. “When the camera’s fixed on your desktop or at the end of your arm, the context of the photo is bound to be pretty mundane; and there’s the avoidable creepiness of someone lurking in the dark, in front of the computer, snapping his own button.”

But when the team looked at the hard data — that is, the number new messages received per active month on the site for women, and new incoming messages and replies to outgoing first contacts for men — they were surprised to find that these lousy, self-shot pictures were pretty damn good.

“Perhaps what these photos lack in technological quality they make up for in intimacy,” Rudder writes. “And it’s undeniable that at their best, self-shot pics can have an approachable, casual vibe that makes you feel already close to the subject.”

So they went one step further. They examined the success of the infamous MySpace shot, which is a picture taken by holding the camera above your head and looking really coy.

“We were sure that everyone thought these pictures were kinda lame. In fact, the prospect of producing hard data on just how lame got us all excited,” Rudder says. “But we were so wrong. In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace Shot is the single most effective photo type for women. We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl’s shirt with the camera at that angle — indeed, that seems to be the point of shot in the first place — so we excluded all cleavage-showing shots from the pool and ran the numbers again. No change: it’s still the best shot; better, in fact, than straight-up boob pics.”

So there it is. The infamous MySpace Shot lives because, contrary to popular belief, it actually works. How’s that for a myth-busting Monday?

Image from AV Flox. Information and graphs from OKCupid, via Zach Behrens.

LOLz: Avatar Sex (Animation)

January 24, 2010 Culture, Film, SciFet, web 2 Comments

You guys must think we’re a bunch of geeks obsessed with alien sex. Congrats! You’re totally right.

Anyway, check out what we found during a cursory stroll of teh intarwebs:

The scene was created by Harry Partridge. His comments regarding the project as they appeared on NewGrounds:

I wanted to make this due to the fact it bugged me in the movie that Jake managed to nail Neytiri with little to no knowledge of Na’vi mating practices. I mean, I’m assuming it’s pretty similar, but considering they have magic hair veins that connect with nature, there’s obviously some pretty big anatomical differences… Wow, there’s people starving in Ireland and it’s stuff like THAT which keeps me up at night.

Us, too, dude. Us, too.

Video by Harry Partridge, via RandomPictures.

Ashley Madison: Life Is Short, Have An Affair

January 23, 2010 web 3 Comments

I hadn’t been on the site minutes that my screen blinked indicating I had an IM.

Stranger: Are you behaving yourself today?

Me: No.

Stranger: oh really? watcha doing?

Me: Well, let’s see, I’m on a website where married people can meet to arrange an infidelity. I’m married. Does it sound like I’m behaving myself?

It was autumn, 2008. After continued insistence from my (now ex-) husband that blogging is pointless, I decided to give monetization a shot. Show a capitalist a profit, after all — even if it’s only a dollar — and he will see the light. So I got on AdSense and slapped some ads on my blog.

After writing a post dealing with infidelity, the ads lit up with all kinds of products: devices to spy on your spouse online, books about how to tell if your spouse is cheating, ways to tell if your crush is harmless or constitutes an emotional affair, lonely housewife classifieds and, finally, a married dating service by the name of Ashley Madison.

Google tells you that you are not allowed to click on your own ads, but I couldn’t help myself. I was genuinely interested in the product. The notion of a married dating service immediately conjured two different trains of thought: 1.) GENIUS, and 2.) What the hell?

Not that I’m a connoisseur of infidelity by any means, but doesn’t this sound particularly risky? You may be on a site for like-minded people, yes, but you can’t see them! A person can be like-minded until the moment she realizes she’s talking to her brother-in-law. Then it’s all over, isn’t it?

So there I was. Logged in under a pseudonym in the name of research. And curiosity, of course. And loneliness, maybe.

ME: So tell me—why are you here?

HE: I need a playmate.

ME: And what kind of play would you expect from her?

HE: real life.

ME: Your profile says “conventional sex is fine.”

HE: meaning it’s better than what I’m getting now.

ME: Have you ever had an affair or are you just beginning to look?

HE: never actually done it, but I think I need to.

ME: When was the last time you had sex?

HE: and enjoyed it? over a year.

ME: How long have you been married?

HE: 6yrs.

ME: How do you like it?

HE: everything is fine… except the sex. that’s why I’m here.

He didn’t seem to mind the cross-examination. A little more probing indicated that while he and his wife did enjoy a sex life, she often orgasmed too fast, became tired and left him unsatisfied.

“Aren’t you afraid I could be someone you know?” I asked him. “I’m paranoid about everything.”

He sent me a key to his gallery of photos.

“Do you know me?” he asked.

I didn’t.

“Would you ever meet me?” he asked.

“I’m scared,” I replied. I wasn’t lying.

“Me too.”

I talked to twelve men over the course of an hour, with handles like CuriousGuy, Looking4More2, DoTh1s, badkarma, statistic. Most of them were like the one above — they had never had an affair, they were sexually dissatisfied at home, and a lot of them were unsure of how to proceed.

And then there was the chronic cheater.

“I haven’t been on here for a while,” he told me without introducing himself. “I don’t have time. But I’m taking a long lunch. Let’s meet for a nooner.”

“Do you just approach women like this when you come on here?” I asked, a little shocked.

“I don’t have time to chit chat. You’re here because you wanna fuck, I’m here because I wanna fuck, so let’s go fuck, you in?”

“Do you get a lot of ass?”

“As much as I can. You cumming or you wasting my time?”

“I’m wasting your time.”

“Think about it. I’ll hit you up again next time I come on here.”

What at first had appeared difficult and laden with all kinds of emotions was suddenly exposed as simple, as easy to schedule as a mani-pedi.

“Life is short,” the banner across the top of my screen read. “Have an affair.”

As I logged off, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people would meet that day with someone they hardly knew, someone they thought could help them escape their reality, just for that moment.

And out of those, how many would feel satisfied afterward?

I never went back on the site. I hated it. I hated it not because I thought what was going on was immoral — I hated it because I was jealous. What I didn’t realize until long after my divorce was that I would have been happy to simply be lacking for sex. But for me sex is a complete experience. It’s not just something I can schedule and feel filled with. I didn’t want to just hook-up. I wanted a soul-quaking communion.

And that’s much harder to compartmentalize than a lunch-time romp.

Images in this post, top: AV Flox, back when she had killer abs in 2008… and a Gateway, whoa. Bottom: from the Ashley Madison Agency.

Nerd Says: “No Glove, No Love”

January 22, 2010 Culture, Games, SciFet, web 2 Comments

And because you can always trust Craigslist to bring you the best of the best when it comes to our innermost desires, I present to you The Power Glove Handjob:

I can’t think of anything nerdier–but no nerds may apply!

From GamerCrave:

The Nintendo Power Glove, released in 1989, was an early Nintendo attempt at motion control. Players who donned the glove were granted no sexual favors, but instead the ability to control video games by moving a hand around. We all freaked out after seeing it in The Wizard, but it was too gimmicky and expensive, and it flopped. Good thing someone’s trying to put it to use, though I’m not sure what’s worse: Someone asking for a Power Glove hand job, or a sex toy that’s been collecting dust in a basement for 20 years.

I wonder what the GirlGamer community would have to say about this?

Oh, and PS? Here’s a Nintendo Power Glove on eBay, for those of you who think this is a brilliant idea. You’re welcome.

Screencap and information via GamerCrave.

Crowdsourced Sex: Coming & Crying

January 21, 2010 Books, Culture, web No Comments

“It’s not the business of all sex writers everywhere to solve the world’s sex problems.”

Written by tech and sex writer and sex educator Melissa Gira Grant, this statement would become the premise of the book Coming & Crying: real stories about sex from the other side of the bed. Using crowdsourcing to fill the book with real stories, Grant and Meaghan O’Connell recently completed the first round of pledges to have it published.

(In fact, demand is so huge, they doubled the amount of money they initially set as a goal in the first three days.)

Unsurprising, especially once you read Grant’s development on the original premise:

Sex writing within the limited scope of “erotica” has been unfairly burdened with rehabilitating sex in public. We as writers have to turn in work that exalts sex, always treats sex like the hottest, the most revelatory thing two (or however many more the CFS required) bodies can do together.

Sex within “real” “literature” doesn’t fare much better, where even if only a very tiny group of writers insist we write in a “post-sex” world, the rest are left making sense of how to not just fade-to-black on fucking.

Or worse than all of that and certainly within that, sex is never treated as a site of inquiry in its own right. Sex stands in for “freedom” or “cultural disintegration” or “womanhood” or whatever. Sex is asked to be too much, and “sex writers” are expected to answer to all of it. Oh, and make it really hot, too.

For some reason, the internet gives sex writing the room to breathe and be more than someone else’s platform to sell a thing or be a thing, anything but what it is: storytelling from a raw and flushed and necessary place. Sex, as commercialized and stupid as it gets online, is also still ours. The continuous partial disclosure of blogging (as in, you would never maybe say this much if you had to do it all at once) makes writing sex even more human, gives us nigh infinite space to say what needs to be said and not have to worry about how well it will do on a rack at the airport.

If we’re successful, we’ll have a beautiful, crazy, lovely book and before it even hits our shelves, a whole lot of people will have let us know how much they want that, too.

Watch the book trailer:

Now go get a copy.

Image from Coming & Crying. Information via Melissa Gira Grant.

Social Media Is Bigger Than Porn

January 20, 2010 Culture, News, teh inetrwebz, web No Comments

I can count the number of times I accessed porn online in 2009–it’s under 50. The number of tweets I sent out, on the other hand? I’m going to guesstimate around 4,000. And that’s just Twitter. Social media is my porn.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. A few months ago Reuters reported on this phenomenon:

Bill Tancer, a self-described “data geek”, has analyzed information for over 10 million web users to conclude that we are, in fact, what we click, with Internet searches giving an up-to-date view of how society and people are changing.

Some of his findings are great trivia, such as the fact that elbows, belly button lint and ceiling fans are on the list of people’s top fears alongside social intimacy and rejection.

Others give an indication of people’s interests or emotions, with an annual spike in searches for anti-depression drugs around Thanksgiving time in the United States.

Tancer, in his new book, “Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters”, said analyzing web searches did not just reflect what was happening online but gave a wider picture of society and people’s behavior.

“There are some patterns to our Internet use that we tend to repeat very specifically and predictably, from diet searches, to prom dresses, to what we do around the holidays,” Tancer told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, an Internet tracking company, said one of the major shifts in Internet use in the past decade had been the fall off in interest in pornography or adult entertainment sites.

He said surfing for porn had dropped to about 10 percent of searches from 20 percent a decade ago, and the hottest Internet searches now are for social networking sites.

“As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased,” said Tancer, indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.

Although maybe I should probably disclose that I use social media as a primary screening tool for lovers and that, while porn provides great visuals, social media actually gets me some ass.

Information from Reuters, via Callie Simms.

Our Secret Lives On The Web

January 16, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

I’m betting on the web.

I overshare more now on Twitter than I ever did while I drank. The digital is a powerful disinhibitor. When it comes to online interactions, it’s incredibly easy to let go and share ourselves. What is it about sitting at our computers, or with our phones in hand, that makes it so much easier to express ourselves?

Philosophy professor Aaron Ben-Zeév tackles this topic in a recent column on his In The Name of Love blog:

Two apparently contrasting features of online relationships are that they seem to offer both greater anonymity and greater self-disclosure. Anonymity is associated with concealment, which is contradictory to self-disclosure. However, greater anonymity typically allows greater self-disclosure, and in turn increases familiarity and intimacy. Intimacy is often quite considerable in online relationships and is often achieved more rapidly than in offline relationships.

Self-disclosure is significant in online relationships. Indeed, several studies have found that there is faster and more profound self-disclosure in online communication than in face-to-face meetings. The major reason for this is that greater anonymity reduces vulnerability.

In online relationships people can be partially or fully anonymous: people can conceal their true identity or important aspects of it. Anonymity in online relationships facilitates self-disclosure as it reduces the risks involved in disclosing intimate information about oneself. People can express themselves more freely since they are more anonymous, less accountable, and hence less vulnerable. Because of our sensitivity regarding our loved ones, the person closest to you may never know your deepest secrets or desires.

The conflict between openness and closeness (revealing-concealing, expressiveness-protectiveness) is typical of offline personal relationships. This conflict is considerably reduced in cyberspace. Take, for example, homosexuals who may experience anxiety in disclosing their sexual orientation, and yet for whom failure to disclose this endangers their true self. In the anonymity of cyberspace, disclosing one’s true feelings is much easier.

Hence, in cyberspace people may feel freer to act in a way that they would dare to do in offline circumstance.

Online self-disclosure resembles the “strangers on a train” phenomenon, where people sometimes share intimate information with their anonymous seatmate. Since anonymity in cyberspace is greater than on a train, revealing intimate personal details is more common in cyberspace. Online relationships enable people to hide behind a form of communication that is somewhat “removed from life.” It is easier to open up to a faceless stranger that you do not have to look at while revealing your secrets. For similar reasons, priests remain concealed when they hear confessions. All these cases support the notion that fear of being embarrassed or being the object of contempt is considerably reduced when the listener is not present or is not seen, or is unlikely to be seen again.

In other circumstances, the listener can be present and seen, but he or she is in a position that cannot hurt you. This is the case, for example, of a therapist, lawyer, or a priest. In the professional presence of such functionaries, you can freely express your emotions and whatever is on your mind without risking hurt. Hence, standard offline rules that guard and limit your behavior and emotional expression are suspended. This freedom enables you to open up and become closer to these functionaries. It is not surprising that people often fall in love with their therapist, lawyer, or priest. Online relations are similar in this regard: people can freely express their emotions and become emotionally close without being vulnerable. Accordingly, it is also easier to fall in love on the Net.

Anonymity in cyberspace can be compared to wearing a mask: in both cases, the sense of anonymity is powerful and makes you feel different. Great anonymity, however, often prevents closeness and the feeling of authenticity. Accordingly, as an online relationship develops, participants take off some elements of their online masks and reveal more of their true identities. This act of trust in turn further facilitates self-disclosure, but at the same time increases vulnerability.

Behaving differently in cyberspace does not necessarily mean that we are being hypocritical or that we have two separate selves, but rather that different aspects of our selves emerge in different circumstances.

To sum up, privacy, which is based on not disclosing certain information to other people, and self-disclosure, in which we reveal personal information to other people, are important in personal relationships. Although the right measure of each depends on many personal and contextual aspects, finding the correct balance is very important and is often easier to achieve in online relationships where there is a reduced risk of compromising our privacy.

Back when I first started online in the 90s, everyone was anonymous. Now, more and more people are using their real names and are being held accountable for their online behavior in their meatspace lives. It’s interesting to see how these trends in the social web are changing the amount of freedom we experience when we go online.

It used to be people had double lives, where they were a good parent and upstanding member of society in one and a kinky tyrant on the web. Now, more and more, people are leading triple lives, where they are upstanding members of society in person and on their primary Twitter accounts, but saucy sexpots in their secret Twitter accounts and anonymous blogs.

Always, it seems, we will seek a safe harbor to share our most vital selves, sexual and emotional.

There is a great how-to by Stacie Adams, via Regina Lynn, about how to use Twitter for clandestine fun, but it was written almost a year ago and a lot of steps have been simplified, so I’m going to take some of Adams’ key points and update them.

  • First, obviously, you need a secret Twitter account, which requires an e-mail address. Don’t use one you already use if you can avoid it. A brand new one may come in handy anyway, in the event you need to exchange more than 140 characters at a time.
  • Get a desktop Twitter client like Seesmic or Tweetdeck. Some clients require Adobe Air, though Seesmic recently came out with Seesmic Windows and Seesmic web, the first of which is a native app and the second being a web app, which enables you to manage your accounts from anywhere.
  • The web apps may be best for you. Other than Seesmic Web, you have Hootsuite and cotweet, all of which enable you to manage multiple Twitter accounts and, like the desktop apps, organize the people you’re following into groups or access your existing Twitter lists.
  • The desktop applications make uploading media easy via sites like Twitpic and links through sites like bit.ly, but if you’re opting for the web-based apps, you may have to do some of this manually.
  • If you have an iPhone, Tweetie is an incredible app for managing multiple accounts as well as existsing Twitter lists.
  • Now, if you need to take your digital a little further along into the analog and don’t want to give out your digits, you can use a service like Twalk.in, which allows you to conference several people at once–or just the one–with nothing but their Twitter usernames. Handy, no? They have an iPhone app, but you can use Twalk.in with any old phone.

Yeah, we know you liked that last one. You’re welcome.

Information from Psychology Today, inspiration from Sex Rev 2.0, knowledge of ways to maximize Twitter usage? My own trial, error, blood, cum and tears.

Free One Night Stand in Santa Monica

January 15, 2010 Culture, web 1 Comment

For your Friday lulz:

Where, oh, where would we be without Craigslist?

Image via Lalawag.

4chan Revolution: YouTube Porn Day

January 5, 2010 Culture, web 2 Comments

Sit tight, perverts. A lot of geekery is to follow. Bear with me and you will be handsomely rewarded.

Lukeywes1234 was an average YouTube user until the day 4chan (really? You don’t know what that is? OK, quick skim) decided to make him a god. His subscriptions shot through the roof and many of his videos were flooded with responses and tributes.

Now YouTube has suspended his account and 4chan is pissed. To retaliate, they have declared tomorrow YouTube Porn Day, asking supporters of the cause to upload video montages of porn mixed with work-safe images, such as cartoons, enabling videos to get around the system long enough to unleash an epic porn tsunami.

Don’t worry, we’ll let you know when you can go back to safely searching for My Little Pony videos while at the office.

Image and information via TechCrunch.

Facebook: Rising Cause of Divorce

January 5, 2010 Culture, Opinion, web 1 Comment

Social media brought with it the ability to connect with old and new friends. It was labeled the solution to the problem of loneliness experienced by a more and more mobile generation. But nothing is without its drawbacks, as some divorce lawyers with enough time to peruse divorce petitions discovered.

They found one in five cited Facebook as cause for divorce.

“I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was,” Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online, told the UK’s Telegraph. “I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook. The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to.”

Sexy chats. E-mails. Wall posts. Private albums. It used to be that affairs had to be conducted secretly on our own time. Now, they can unfold as we sit beside our spouses in bed, typing on our laptops as they read.

But is it that more people are cheating because of how much more accessible people are, or is it that it’s just easier for people to get caught?

This month’s issue of Details gives us some hard numbers in their article “Everyone Else Is Cheating–Why Aren’t You?”:

Numbers from the book Lust In Translation, by Pamela Druckerman.

“A lot of people are coming to terms with the unnaturalness of monogamy,” says David P. Barash, co-author of Strange Bedfellows: The Surprising Connection Between Evolution, Sex and Monogamy. “But there’s a difference between the public persona–what we like to think of each other–and what we all know goes on.”

And this, perhaps, is why Facebook is so dangerous.

Read the rest of this piece, including what’s wrong with marriage, at Twirlit…

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...