THE NSFW ISSUE
The week of October 5, 2014

Read once, then clear your browser history

By Austin Powell

When the Daily Dot acquired The Kernel in late January, we weren’t actually sure what we wanted to do with the property. We kicked around a couple of ideas internally, one of which was to turn it into “Daily Dot after dark,” a virtual red-light district for all of our NSFW content.

At first glance, the concept seemed to kill two birds at once: It would remove all of the stories from the Daily Dot that generally make advertisers—not to mention our sales team—squirm, and in turn, it would allow us to push our boundaries even further.

What we quickly realized, however, was that we couldn’t extricate NSFW content from the Daily Dot. To do so would betray our mission to chronicle the story of the Internet, to be a paper of record for the Web.

To put it bluntly, porn dominates the Internet in a way cats never will. As Ben Branstetter notes in his piece on Google’s recent crackdown on the industry, it accounts for over 4 percent of the entire Internet and roughly 25 percent of all Google search queries. Hardly a day goes by where sex doesn’t creep into the day’s Trending™ stories.

In the last week alone, we’ve reported on the alt lit scene’s rape problem, Snapchat’s secret amateur porn ring, YouTube’s troubling history of sexual abuse scandals, a British newspaper’s efforts to make revenge porn a sex crime, and a camgirl’s efforts to document the Ferguson protests—to say nothing of the ripple effect of last month’s celebrity nude-photo calamity.

These are serious stories that demand serious journalism, and at the Daily Dot, we pride ourselves on going one step further. We’ve profiled everyone from the amateur porn stars of Reddit’s GoneWild to America’s leading camgirls with the compassion, attention to detail, and respect that the subjects deserve.

The Internet has changed how we connect and what gets our rocks off. We want to capture that transition as it happens, exploring the complicated relationship between the industry, its audience, and the tech that bridges the two. Even in its darkest, seediest corners—as exposed in last week’s definitive report on the history of child pornography on the Deep Web—those stories are integral to our understanding of the Internet and society as a whole.

But this week’s issue shows what a NSFW-themed Kernel site would have looked like.

In our cover story, EJ Dickson, one of the most promising new voices in the emerging sex-tech scene and the all-around leader of this week’s issue, recounts her early sexual exploration in the din of AOL chatrooms, an experience shared by many and far removed from today’s swiping-right hookup apps. Likewise, Nico Lang reflects back on his own brush with the porn industry, and in the wake of Celebgate, Olivia Cole grapples with the ghosts of her own nudes, floating around the Web, just beyond her reach.

Further illustrating the way tech is ushering in a postmodern era of sex, Molly McHugh reports on the rise of teledildonics, the remote-controlled toys bringing long-distance lovers closer together. And Miles Klee experimented with some DIY hardware of his own—to hilarious and disturbing effect. (I’m expecting hazard pay for that one.)

We also got up close and personal with a number of porn stars. Alex Jung profiles Colby Keller, the “de facto hipster king of gay porn,” as he embarks on his most ambitious project yet: Colby Does America, a crowdsourced effort to film himself having sex in all 50 states. Elsewhere, Siri (not to be confused with the Apple product) makes a personal appeal against file-sharing, Sydney Leathers opens up about her life post-#Weinergate, and we asked camgirls about the technology powering their billion-dollar industry.

Taken as a whole, it’s a compelling, personal, and revealing look at the industry and the toll it takes.

So go ahead: Open up an incognito browser and enjoy yourself.

 

Photo by AndrewRennie/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)