How free porn enriched the tech industry — and ruined the lives of actors

Journalist Jon Ronson describes his new podcast series, The Butterfly Effect, this way: “It’s about what constitutes a reputable person and what constitutes a disreputable person.”

More specifically, The Butterfly Effect is a four-hour, seven-part exploration of the impact of the tech industry on the porn industry. It’s about the way free porn sites, notably PornHub, have made it very hard for porn workers to make a living.

The music industry has gone through similar upheaval, but musicians get more sympathy than porn actors (and can make money doing live gigs), Ronson says.

In the podcast, Ronson interviews Fabian Thylmann, PornHub’s millionaire founder, along with a spectrum of sex industry performers and creators struggling to make ends meet. For instance, Ronson profiles Mike Quasar, a porn cameraman and director, who tells Ronson he’s powerless to stop his films from being instantly pirated online. (The volume of streaming sites and sharing methods makes it hard for porn companies, often strapped for resources, to fight piracy.) Some porn stars make niche custom videos — performing content in ways requested by specific fans, for a fee — in order to survive financially.

For two decades since Them, a best-seller on extremists, Ronson has been creating engaging, funny accounts of people on society’s margins. The Welshman turned New Yorker’s last book was So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, about the internet pile-ons against the likes of inappropriate tweeter Justine Sacco.

In a wide-ranging conversation — lightly edited and condensed — Ronson discussed porn’s future, Alex Jones, and legitimized bullying.

Alexander Bisley

So these sites like PornHub, which are stealing porn and giving it away for free, have wildly depressed the money available for productions and the fees the performers are able to get, right?

Jon Ronson

Yes. So a lot of people are making a lot less money and are working much, much longer hours to make that money. That’s happening a lot. Whereas the people in charge of PornHub are making so much money they don’t know what to do with it.

These tech people who’ve never set foot on a porn set in their lives, these optimizers and algorithm people and AB testers, these “respectable people” — they’re the ones who seem to be causing the most trouble [in] the lives of porn performers.

I saw time and time again, people [in the porn industry] would have to move from pretty nice houses to much smaller houses. Porn performers have to go into escorting to pay the rent. More and more producers are going out of business. So in many ways it’s decimating the San Fernando Valley, but the tech people are doing very well.

The tech takeover of the world isn’t being criticized enough. It’s having these seismic changes, and people tend not to think about it because they’re giving the world what it wants, which is free porn.

Alexander Bisley

What do you think the future of porn will be, given this seismic shift?

Jon Ronson

I was just reading a comment on Slate that addressed this question. The commenter — Allen Garvin — wrote, “Dirty magazines are dying, porn shops are dying, mainstream porn video companies are dying (or else getting into extreme fetishes). People that go to porn conventions or show up at strip clubs to see specific porn actresses are getting older each year, with young men failing to replace them because they get their porn for free.”

I think all that’s true. So what will take its place? Amateur porn shot on cellphones. Some of those people will get deals with PornHub, and the like, where they’ll make some money from clicks, but it’ll be a fraction of what they would have made in the pre-streaming days.

And the people who built the industry? Some will move into customs and niche fetish stuff; most others will just vanish away into the ether.

Alexander Bisley

One of PornHub’s tech guys, exploiting performers’ work, boasted to you: “I’m not a piece of garbage, peddling smut.”

Jon Ronson

When I ask him about the people whose lives were being decimated as a result of the business practices, he went, “Ugh, okay. Their livelihood.” He talked like a tech utopian, somebody who thinks the tech world can do no wrong. A lot of tech people go out of their way to not think about the negative consequences. You shouldn’t not think about those insidious consequences.

Alexander Bisley

Tech guys like the one you quote above basically dehumanize the labor?

Jon Ronson

Yeah. In the same way we dehumanize people that we tear apart on social media. Or in the same way that despots from the past dehumanized their victims. We just don’t wanna think about it. And that’s one of the reasons my public shaming book got some backlash, because people didn’t want to be confronted with the truth of the psychological tricks they play on themselves to not feel bad about the bad things they do.

Alexander Bisley

Since Them: Adventures With Extremists, your book and documentary series about conspiracy theorists, the idea of humanizing the dehumanized has featured in your work. Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist that has interviewed Trump on his show, was one of your early subjects, both in writing and in documentary. Did you go too far in humanizing him?

Jon Ronson

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think Alex has changed. Alex is a different person now compared to how he was when I first knew him in the late ’90s. A lot of people who work for Alex would probably say the same thing. So the way we should regard him, the way we should write about him, should change. He’s changed partly because he’s more powerful now, and he’s richer, and he’s got an ally in the White House, and some of his conspiracy theories have got darker.

A couple of years ago, when Alex suddenly made a fortune from the Super Male Vitality supplements and so on, that’s pretty much exactly the same time that his discourse got more aggressive. As much as he denies saying that Sandy Hook didn’t happen, he did promote that conspiracy theory.

Alexander Bisley

How do you feel about the future of media?

Jon Ronson

I strongly believe the future for that industry of broadcasters is to welcome idiosyncratic voices and then just give them the freedom to do just that, which is exactly what Netflix did with Bong Joon-Ho for Okja, a film I co-wrote, and what Audible did with me and The Butterfly Effect. The days of gatekeepers making you jump through hoops is kinda over.

Alexander Bisley

The Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap, wrote a compelling essay about the Internet zeitgeist. “I have become increasingly wary of morality disguised as politics and of our reversion to a language redolent of sin and shaming, certainty and righteousness.”

Jon Ronson

Yeah. The way I would describe it is legitimized bullying. The destruction of people like Justine Sacco [who tweeted an inappropriate joke that launched a viral pile-on and that led to her being fired] — what of social justice? It was a cathartic alternative to social justice.

When you’re bullied in school, quite often, you’re bullied by everyone. You don’t have friends to turn to. Monica Lewinsky, in an interview I did with her, told me of her scandal: “I was hung out to dry by everyone; I didn’t belong to any group.” That’s the same as what happened to Justine Sacco — she was hung out to dry by everyone: Misogynists hated her, philanthropists hated her, social justice people hated her, Donald Trump tweeted about her. So that’s probably why I felt so animated about that story … because it reminded me of school. When you’re being bullied by everybody, it’s legitimized bullying.

In a way, it’s the reason I wanted to do The Butterfly Effect as well. Because it’s a story about every time somebody watches porn for free on PornHub, they are potentially exploiting the lives of the porn people they’re watching.

Alexander Bisley

David Simon, creator of the sex work–themed television show The Deuce, believes a big problem with porn and sex work is poor labor rights.

Jon Ronson

Definitely in terms of royalties, back-end and stuff like that, porn people would agree with David Simon. Where they might disagree is that there’s definitely a narrative out there about porn people being forced to do things they don’t want to do on set by exploitative directing. Maybe their boyfriends were coercing them in some cases. But I can say that the side of the San Fernando Valley industry that we were in for a year on and off [making The Butterfly Effect], I saw nothing like that. That may happen in Miami and Las Vegas.

But the [Valley] directors and the producers and the other porn actors — it’s basically a kindhearted and respectful community, certainly more than outsiders might think. It has its problems, but it’s way more collegiate than outsiders would think it.

Alexander Bisley

What might surprise listeners about The Butterfly Effect?

Jon Ronson

Probably the most surprising thing about the series is how moving and endearing it gets. How supportive the performers are to each other. And in the world of custom, in the world of bespoke porn, how there’s this really lovely bond between the cast and producers and their client, their fans. A bunch of people have said they’ve never thought that a series about the tech takeover of the porn industry would make them cry, but the end of the series will make you cry.

Alexander Bisley

And challenge them?

Jon Ronson

There’s this amazing line in episode five of The Butterfly Effect where I’m talking to this girl who was a big porn watcher, and I said to her: “Did you ever learn their names?” And she said: “No, I never learned their names. It’s like when you kill a deer; you don’t name it because then you can’t eat it.”

Alexander Bisley

In addition to the pressure for some of them to work as escorts, porn stars have to be an enthusiastic brand all over social media. Is that a challenge?

Jon Ronson

Yes! In episode two I meet this woman called Maci May who was having a terrible time, and she used to vent about it on social media but now she’s much more wary because you have to be like a brand. She can’t tweet, “I don’t have any money.” She’s discouraged from acting that way by porn producers and directors who say to her: “No, no, you’ve got to constantly be chirpy and happy.”

When she said that to me, I thought, “That’s really sad.” In a parallel universe, there’d be a Twitter where Maci May could do all of that stuff, vent about how unhappy she was. But that’s not the Twitter we created for ourselves, sadly.

Alexander Bisley

“Sex is probably the most interesting subject in the world,” Paul Auster says.

Jon Ronson

I would never disagree with anything Paul Auster says, because he’s amazing. … I never thought of sex as interesting. What I thought was interesting about The Butterfly Effect wasn’t sex, but it was about what constitutes a reputable person and what constitutes a disreputable person. The thing that really got me interested was this idea that tech people are considered reputable; sex workers, porn people are considered disreputable. But this story shows that the porn people and the sex workers are supportive, kindhearted, lovely people, whereas the tech people are amoral, ruthless people.

source;-Vox

Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL specs and features leak ahead of launch tonight: Everything we know so far

Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Google Home Mini, Pixelbook set to be launched tonight: Everything we know so far

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Image credit: Evan Blass

There are no surprise anymore. Apple couldn’t keep the iPhone X, one of its biggest products in years, a surprise ahead of the launch event. And Google surely can’t keep away the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL from the leakers. The two phones, which are successor to last year’s original Pixel phones, will be launched tonight at an event in San Francisco. They will come accompanied by a number of other Google products, most important of which are going to be three – the new Google Home Mini, the Pixelbook and a new Daydream VR headset.

Of all, the most important – particular for our country of smartphone lovers – are going to be the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. Almost everything important about these phones is now known. It the last few days their images along with key specifications and features have been leaked. There has been a talk of a mysterious phone called the Ultra Pixel but that is just talk. Tonight there is going to be nothing called Ultra Pixel at the Google event. Only the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL.

Update: Just hours before the launch, a fresh leak has given us at the more detailed specs of the Pixel 2 XL. The specs, listed online, confirm that the phone will come with a 6-inch screen that has a resolution of 1440 x 2880 pixels, hence also confirming the 18:9 aspect ratio. In all likelihood this is the same screen that has been used by LG in its V30 smartphone. Also the specs sheet shows 100000:1 aspect ration hence confirming that the Pixel 2 XL screen uses AMOLED panel. Then there are other details. The front camera on the Pixel 2 XL uses an 8-megapixel sensor with F2.4 lens. The phone comes with a 3520 mAh battery. There is Gorilla Glass 5 layer on top of the phone’s display. Other specs are similar to what we heard about earlier. But there are 3 key features that have revealed by the latest leaks: The Pixel 2 XL will have dual-SIM support. But will be the regular GSM SIM, the slot will use e-SIM. There is something called Pixel Visual Core, which seems to be a special chip for computational photography. In other words, think better portrait mode photos. Finally, there is something called “advanced x-axis sensor” in the Pixel 2 XL. This seems to be the sensor that will enable “squeezable frame” feature.

So what are these phones, how much will the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will cost in India, when will they go on sale in India? Nothing is official about them yet, but as noted earlier almost everything about these phones has been leaked. So don’t expect any surprises.

– Of the the, the Pixel 2 XL is a more exciting phone. It is made by LG and it has many similarities with the LG V30. The phone is expected to sport a 6-inch screen with thin bezels, similar to what we see in the LG V30. But that is where the design similarities end. Google is expected to use a design for the Pixel 2 XL that is similar to the design of the original Pixel XL. This means, you will get the same dual-tone shell made of metal and glass, although the Glass portion on the rear cover is proportionately smaller than what we saw in last year’s Pixel phones.

– The Pixel 2 XL screen, as noted earlier, measures 6 inches. It will use AMOLED panel, will have QHD (1440P) display with 18:9 aspect ratio.

 

– The Pixel 2, meanwhile, is the smaller phone with 5-inch screen that has a resolution of 1080P. It is said to be made by HTC and it will have a design that is more generic and similar to the design of the Pixel launched last year.

– Both Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are expected to come with stereo speakers. Both have a fingerprint sensor at the rear cover, under camera. Both will feature “squeezable frame” similar to what th HTC U11 has. Squeezing this frame will launch Google Assistant.

– Both Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. There was talk that these phones are going to use the Snapdragon 836, but apparently that chip is late so Google couldn’t use it. The Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will come with 64GB and the 128GB variants. They will have 4GB RAM.

– Just like the recent iPhones, the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are going to come without the 3.5mm headphone jack. This is rather surprising because last year Google highlighted the presence of the headphone jack in its Pixel phones as one of the top features, while hinting that the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus weren’t good because they lacked it. Google will probably bundle a headphone to USB-C adapter in the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL boxes.

– The Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are going to come with a re-designed launcher, which will have the Google search bar at the bottom of the screen. The phone will use Android Oreo software, and likely to come with (temporarily) exclusive software features like Google Lens app, which was announced at the Google I/O.

– The Pixel 2 is likely to have a 2700 mAh battery while the Pixel 2 XL will come with 3400 mAh battery.

– Both the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will have water and dust-poof design.

– For now, if there is some mystery then that is about the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL cameras. It is certain neither of these phones comes with dual-camera system. Of late, high-end phones are moving dual-camera systems to offer features like 2X optical zoom and more refined portrait mode. But not Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. These phones are going to come with single camera on the rear. The question is which camera? There are strong chances that it is going to be the sae 12-megapixel camera that is there in the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. It makes sense because this is the best camera you can get in a phone, even when compared to the camera inside phones like the recently-launched iPhone 8 Plus. But there is also another scenario. Given how much help Google has got from HTC for the Pixel 2 (and the Pixel 2 XL), it is possible that the company may se the same 12-megapixel camera that HTC uses in HTC U11. That again is a good camera so we will have to see what Google does with the HTC U11 camera hardware with its software tricks like the HDR+ mode.

Also Read: Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL to launch tonight: How to watch, expected specs, price and more

On the front, it is expected that the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will come with 5-megapixel shooter. The interesting bit about the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL cameras could be that they may lack the dual-lens trick, but if original Pixel is any indication the new Google phones too may come with the best camera in a smartphone. In addition, it is expected that Google will offer enhanced portrait node in the camera app inside the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL.

Pixel 2 XL and the Pixel 2 India price and India launch

The global prices of the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL have been leaked. The Pixel 2 XL will have a starting price of $849. The Pixel 2, meanwhile, will be cheaper with a starting price of $649. As far as India prices are concerned, nothing has been revealed so far. But these are high-end phones, and similar to how Google priced Pixel phones in India last year, the new Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will also come with a hefty price tag. It is safe to day that in India the Pixel 2 could have a string price of around Rs 55,000 whereas the Pixel 2 XL may come with a price tag of Rs 65,000.

According to leaks so far, the Pixel 2 will be available globally from October 19. This could be the date when the phone goes on sale in India too, with pre-orders starting a few days early. The Pixel 2 XL could go on sale from November 15, suggest rumours. For official date, let’s wait until tonight.

Pixel Home Mini, Daydream VR headset, Pixelbook

Of these products, the Google Home Mini has already been leaked by Walmart, which “accidentally” listed it on the website. It is exactly what it name suggests. This is a smaller Google Home, much smaller and almost pebble sized, that will sell at a very cheap $49 price. It will connect to an Android device through Wi-Fi and will have Google Assistant inbuilt. Now, although this is a speaker, we suspect it is more for other things instead of music. It’s more like the voice of the Google Assistant and is also probably going to be used to make calls.

The PixelBook is a new Chromebook with powerful hardware and a premium design. It is also said to be a convertable, that people will be able to use as a tablet as well as a laptop. With the PixelBook, the idea it seems is to take on the iPad Pro as well as the Macbook. The device will have a screen size of 12.3 inches and it will come powered with an Intel Core i5 processors, reveals the information leaked so far. It will have a global starting price of $1,199.

Finally, the new Daydream VR headset. This one is expected to be a minor update to the existing VR headset from Google. It will be sold as an accessory to the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL phones and it may come with some design changes as well as improved screens to make it more useful.

[“Source-indiatoday”]

Tomorrow Creative Lab Wins Creative Duties Of Ashiana Housing Ltd.

Tomorrow Creative Lab wins creative duties of Ashiana Housing Ltd.

Ashiana Housing Ltd. has chosen Tomorrow Creative Lab as its Creative agency. Tomorrow roped in InterTwined as their Strategy and Account Management partner for the pitch in Delhi, under their collaborative model called ‘Friends of Tomorrow.’ In a multi-agency pitch that involved Strategy and Creatives including digital, BTL and ATL, Team Tomorrow and InterTwined emerged as the winners.
Apart from the mandate for the first project which is the Ashiana Town in Bhiwadi, Tomorrow and InterTwined will deliver brand solutions across film, print, radio, outdoor and activation besides providing strategic recommendations and creative ideas for the digital and social space. They will also provide inputs on appropriate brand messaging and focus on the consumer journey cycle from consideration, site visit to actual purchase of the property.
Commenting on the appointment, Ankur Gupta, Joint Marketing Director, Ashiana Housing Ltd. said, “It was a pleasure to see the pitch of Tomorrow and Intertwined. The understanding of the target consumer was spot on and the creative was not just aesthetically superb but also conveyed the message for the targeted consumer. Overall I was delighted to see that kind of detailing and effort.”
The win marks Mumbai based Tomorrow’s serious foray into the Delhi market. Launched about 10 months ago, this Brand Strategy, Design and
Communication agency has been having a decent run in the city, first with a branding exercise for NDTV (Mojarto,) followed by an ongoing project for Vivaana Hospitality (#TheHaveliProject) and more recently a project for Oyo Rooms.
Speaking about the win, Malvika Mehra, Founder and Creative Director, Tomorrow Creative Lab, said, “It’s probably odd to say this in a business context but the first thing that struck Divya and I about the Ashiana Housing Ltd. brand is their deeply grounded value system and humility, stemming clearly from the owners themselves. Here is a brand that has been quietly creating category redefining work whether it is their Senior Living offerings or mid-income housing options with world-class amenities. It was high time that this respected brand took centre-stage. This is where Tomorrow comes in as their brand partners. And we couldn’t be more excited or humbled by this great opportunity.”

[“Source-exchange4media”]

Why blended learning is future of Indian education

Why blended learning is future of Indian education

The debate around the quality of higher education in India has been gaining momentum since the Union Budget 2017, which laid emphasis on skill development, employability and digitisation of the education process. The government announced a slew of measures, including ‘Swayam’, an online learning portal; revamp of the National Education Policy (NEP); the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) as a single higher education regulator; and the University Grants Commission (UGC) mandate to educational institutions to develop massive open online courses (MOOCs).

While India is making headway in digitising the learning process, world over, universities are disrupting and innovating teaching and learning. The country has a long tradition of face-to-face learning; the teacher or guru cannot be replaced overnight with an unseen, technological entity. However, it is pertinent to note that the gap between what students are taught in classrooms and what the industry is demanding of its prospective employees is growing every day. The rate of change in technology has, and will continue to, outpace the change in university curriculum, the fastest of which takes place once a year. It is not uncommon to see students spending more than 20 years in the education system and saddled with unattractive job prospects.

The solution lies in ‘blended learning’, a concept that is fast gaining pace in the Indian context. In simple terms, it is a hybrid form of teaching and learning which involves both classroom and online learning. The approach mixes concept building and enquiry-based learning which retains human interaction in education and allows students to combine traditional classroom methods with online-digital mediums. Blended learning strives to create a balance between prescriptive learning and learning at one’s own pace. It is important to note here that blended learning is not equivalent to technology-rich teaching; the core of blended learning is giving the student greater autonomy over his or her education growth path, using technology only as an enabler.

Simply put, it is a win-win situation for students and teachers. The emphasis is on development of the learner’s capacity and capability with the goal of preparing him or her for the complexities of today’s changing workplace. Since every individual assimilates information differently, online learning aims to bring greater and better choice of learning with specific interests. Teachers will not be burdened with the mundane task of imparting education through information overload; instead, they will be focusing on higher value-added instruction that synchronises technology with face-to-face learning. The automated and personalised system will allow teachers to turn into mentors, free from the pressures of formal education.

For students, a major advantage is the ability to dip into a knowledge pool that doesn’t end with classroom instruction. Blended learning incorporates information via online courses, developed by experts from different fields, and helping students access globally developed and industry relevant course material. Blended learning creates the possibility of practical, experiential learning, where students can learn at their own pace – both in terms of speed and complexity of information. It is only fair that the education process be flipped to become increasingly learner-driven than prescriptive in nature.

Data analytics from online learning platforms can help educators develop a targeted approach towards teaching a particular individual, harnessing data over time to help students learn better. This will provide teachers more accurate and specific insights into a particular student’s pain points, where he/she is doing well, areas they find most challenging etc. This can help teachers, and by extension colleges and universities, to understand student behaviour better and provide vastly effective learning interventions.

The natural affinity Millennials have to technology, their sense of entitlement to drive their own education, and the fast-paced and fast-changing work environments they are likely to be a part of, all point in one direction — online or computer-based education could well replace brick-and-mortar education in coming years.

Technology also enables students to access a global network of education and knowledge exchange. For instance Anant Agarwal, the CEO of Harvard and MIT’s online-learning platform edX, graduated with a degree from IIT Madras before pursuing a highly successful global career. Blended learning offers a window to a global world for students who might otherwise struggle to access traditional professional education programmes and supplements the wider work of universities, colleges and learning providers.

In short, blended learning aims to solve problems that plague policymakers, administrators and students. While many educators have adopted this unique form of learning, one hopes that in a decade’s time, blended learning becomes the norm rather than the exception. To its credit, the Government of India is formalising the online education space, ensuring regulatory recognition for online courses and encouraging universities to develop their own online curricula.

The blended classroom of the future can leverage the power of online courses and free up classroom time for interactive collaboration and discussion, testing and problem-solving, redefining how education is administered, while at the same retaining the ethos of India’s traditional classroom system.

[“Source-moneycontrol”]