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25C3: The Infinite Library

This talk was held by Rose White and has the catchy subtitle „Storage and Access of Pornographic Information“. In fact it’s basically about how people organize their porn collections and why it’s so hard to categorize it.

What she says she learns in her studies is that the more things change the more those things stay the same.

So also the information overflow problem we are facing is not really new and has been researched for many years or decades. She shows pictures from medieval times. So the problem of how we organize all the information we produce has been discussed for millenia.

So what’s special about p0rn?

And what’s so interesting for academic study? She mentions the problems you have as an academic if you do such research and how you are marked and hinted that you shouldn’t put this field into your CV.

This points to a general problem with that matter. If you cannot talk about the problem you are facing you cannot use information handling techniques. Usually the information in this field is put under matresses etc. It’s usually a small collection which sort of stays the same size. It’s a very private collection, hidden from wife etc. (but usually found at some point, creating some embarrasment).

Nowadays though there is digital porn. There is not really that limit anymore. There are profound privacy implications with this though.

Any collection of pornography goes to the base of your personality. The contents of that collection is a very specific collection of your tastes. This is not so much of a problem with old style magazines because you can argue that you cannot decide what goes into those mags. But if you have individual digital files, this might be an issue (imagine a huge collection of photos or women who look like your ex and your wife finding that).

There are also things which are only in our minds and are also never discussed with our beloved partner. But that’s ok because that’s what it makes us human. The desire for privacy does not mean that they are illegal etc. It’s ok to hide something.

And all this makes this a hard problem for research because people don’t want to give specifics. Librarians for instance are an epic fail the field of pornography because it’s hard to categorize. So you can only retrieve such things from a library if you know the exact title. If you don’t know it you have a hard time to find the thing you are searching for. Some issue here is the problem of creating new categories in the library system. Moreover it’s an issue of keeping the library our of legal issues but it’s security by obscurity.

One example: Music freak has all music CDs all alphabetized. But the porn collection is just „porn 2001“, „porn early 2001“. Asked why he wouldn’t organize it like his CDs he said he would think about himself as a pervert. And this although nobody would ever see it.

Another example is from a guy who wants to hide it from his gf and he had a huge porn collection hidden on his desktop machine. And it turned out that he stored it inside a hidden folder in \WINDOWS and in that folder are folders with numbers which are all faked but in there everything is everything very much cataloged with a lot of detail. He does not want it to be found because he is afraid that his gf thinks about him as a „freak“. He also said that his gf would never look in the WINDOWS-folder because she would be afraid to break something.

Some people also use flickr for their p0rn collection. Some people create many accounts organized by their interests. At least it seems that this is happening from her experience in talking to people. This is also just stored as favourites, so no storage limitations are a problem. Then of course there are groups they join and links to other sites. She finds that very interesting and wonders how this flickr thing came about.

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