metaidea, somedaymaybe

Why pornography and terrorism lead innovation at all times

Most managers would not talk of pornography / terrorism in the workplace that too in the context of innovation. But my take is they lead innovation on multiple fronts and they are driven by certain perennial trends. Both have ancient origins and have usually led in development of new ideas within constraints (regulatory for example), in adoption of new technologies or ideas, and bringing other uses to technologies that are not meant to be used for the purpose. In this post I give examples of innovation from porn industry (adult video industry rather as a very organized industry with amazing vertical integration) and possibly pick your interest on what can push the needle on innovation in the other service industries.

Enter porn innovation

Most Useful function: Content delivery to a customer

Printing press: Clay Shirky in his famous TED Talk How the Internet will (one day) transform government, makes an important point of how the porn industry was in the forefront not just today, but when printing press  invented some 500 years back,

It did not take long after the rise of the commercial printing press before someone figured out that erotic novels were a good idea. (Laughter) You don’t have to have an economic incentive to sell books very long before someone says, “Hey, you know what I bet people would pay for?” (Laughter) It took people another 150 years to even think of the scientific journal” 

Torrent: History repeats, guess who was one of the earliest adopters of the torrent peer-to-peer protocols, years ahead of the corporate IT function in the knowledge economy sharing large files. PublicBT which reports use of Bit Torrent usage across internet plugs 35.8% use was for pornography, as the largest single category. All this in less than 10 years of the distributed downloading protocol being invented. This sort of rapid innovation diffusion is actually very common to the adult video industry.

On standardizing imaging technologies for content distribution, for most imaging formats/standards be it the erstwhile generations on photography, video cassettes, or the latest Hi Def DVD formats, porn industry has always played a key decision maker role on adoption/setting of new standards.

Other Most Useful function: Getting paid.

Again porn industry is in the forefront with the adoption of payment technologies be it electronic credit cards  from the Richard Gordon era which pioneered non-face to face merchant banking services. I am sure there are porn sites with bit coin support now, or other unusual payment formats that keep coming.

Same is true for terrorism innovation only the most useful function changes to something like

  1. Bypass security / regulation
  2. Improvise arms for greatest damage

The fundamental tenets of leading innovation be it incremental and contextual in this case, is very evident, not just from the improvisations of the attacker but the response by governments and authority to curb terror as well. Only the speed of response from the systems are so slow that there are always ways to operate. This again is a very common trend called “Law of uneven development of system parts”.

PS: Marking this a somedaymaybe project to come back and list further technologies that were born out of porn…it will be fun to do I am sure. I have not even touched on SPAM, network speeds, live tech, cross website feed, scripting, ad technologies, pay per views, …


What should sebi do with the settlement-fees?

Both the Reliance Group companies have gone to SEBI for settlement using what is called a “consent process”. The Anil Ambani marketing group action is in full swing to do the following

  1. Make case for this “internationally accepted norm” for settlement, in which process we will never get to know the whys of the case
  2. Message that the group has not lost any of its financial/market muscle to do what it does as against what is on the media

In complexity theory there is this concept of “powerful stranger”, one whose action can actually trigger disproportionate downstream impact. In this case it happens to be the “anonymous” complaints received by SEBI on violation of insider trading regulations by the group companies back in 2007 and mis-representation of investments. Interesting thing is, the regulation is in the complicated domain and denies the complex nature of how markets operate. And the current system is taking a non-complex action response through the consent route.

Should SEBI not install probes that act from the field than try to regulate under covers and a fishy process? If the money whatever sum earned by the directors’ trades is never going to reach the investors who lost an equal sum (actually we will never know who), at least the SEBI fine should be spent on installing the probes.

Anyways the markets are for real and it seems to have dumped the stocks, currently trading at 6% lower than the Friday close.