Skyberries and Voidmelons or Voidberries and Skymelons

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IDG seminar

The Interaction Design Group Seminar at the University of Melbourne this Friday, by Judith Glover, sounds interesting. Shame I'm not still in Melbourne, so can't go to it. Here's the abstract:

'Sex Toys – Design, Technology and the Future for Human/Machine Sexual Interaction

Sex toys and their precursors are not a product genre you will find mentioned in the canons of design history and theory. In fact, as a field of research, they appear infrequently in any field of study. Yet they are manufactured and consumed in their millions year after year and have done so for decades in their modern form. There is evidence they have been manufactured for thousands of years and Victorian England and America supported a thriving vibrator industry treating middle class women for hysteria. As mass produced objects they are embedded with the socio-cultural meanings of constructed gender ideology and sexual control. As technological objects they are as complicated and harmless as an electric toothbrush. So, 30 years after the sexual revolution, why are they still socially taboo? What if they weren’t and what if they were designed using the innovation methods and strategies of industrial, product, multimedia, interface and HCI designers?'

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Sounds like a good PhD subject.

The name of that thing makes me think "RealDolls" rather than vibrators, though.

And I kind of can see why there's a bit of a taboo about those things. Particularly when people start naming them and treating them like members of the family and stuff.

Real Doll, Best movie ever!

I don't know about this sexual revolution, I still get weird looks from people when I start discussing the careers of porn stars in polite company.

I think we'll have to wait for the 'baby boomers' to died before that changes.

My laptop background is a picture of a well known porn star (fully clothed, looking all happy because she's just won the award for "dirtiest girl in porn".

It's amusing how many people recognise her and enthuse about her work.

I saw Lars and the Real Doll when I was in New Zealand, and quite enjoyed it, although missed the start, so wasn't entirely sure how he ended up in a relationship with a blow-up doll.

I'm now thinking maybe it's about teledildonics?

Perhaps those dildos you can text to make them vibrate and things like that?

"Why are they still socially taboo?"

Hmm, how is something that's advertised and shown in popular drama on television taboo? Sure, just as tampon adverts don't show actual menstrual blood, the sex toy adverts are a bit coy about what exactly one does with these things, but I think Judith Glover is a bit slow off the mark.

I would be surprised if famous models of sex toy didn't already get the same level of design attention as, say, the Logitech laser mouse which is the same price range. There are even boutique outfits making sex toys with really niche parameters (e.g. selling "dragon penis" shaped dildos for otherkin)

I forgot again which of your email addresses is still active. Care to provide a hint or mail it to me?

I agree, I don't think they're that taboo. Apparently you can even buy them in Walmart these days.

I recently read Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk, and a teenage girl made a dildo for the science fair, which made me wonder what these actual innovations and stategies could be. As it said above, sex toys have been around for thousands of years, so what are these amazing innovations and design techniques, that benefit from HCI designers? Maybe it is as aphephobia suggested above, and would actually be about RealDolls, or some kind of virtual reality thing?

I should stop speculating and actually search for some, I suppose. :)

Oh, CHI 2006 had a Sexual Interactions workshop:
papers, such as Sexual Human Computer Interfaces in 2006 and our Future Responsibility in its Development, and An Open-Source Sexual HCI Research Platform.

Email address: My first name might do for now.

Maybe not in the UK. Here in the Victorian States of America, though, it's a different story.

In fact, up until last year it was ILLEGAL to sell sex toys in my state. To the best of my knowledge it's still illegal in two others.

People got around this, of course, by calling them "personal massagers" or "novelties" or "cake toppers" (yes, really) and making sure they didn't look like the "real thing." It made for some very interesting designs. Blue spaceships, pink bunny rabbits, purple butterflies, weird green anime creatures, silver dragons, you name it. But if you sold a vibrator that was flesh-colored and dick-shaped, you could go to jail for two years.

It is interesting to compare Texas and Sweden for vibrators and prostitution. In Texas, selling vibrators is a serious crime, for which you can go to jail and get put on the sex-offenders register. In Sweden, vibrators are advertised on TV, after a certain time in the evening. In Texas, prostitution is technically illegal, but in fact is so widely accepted that if a man stays at someone's home, it is common to offer him a prostitute. In Sweden, prostitution is really illegal, and men who are caught hiring prostitutes are criminally convicted.

My theory is the following. In Texas, men have much more political power than women: they ensure their own sexual satisfaction, but want to keep the women sexually-dependent on them. In Sweden, women have relatively more political power: they ensure their own satisfaction, but want to keep the men sexually-dependent on them.

The real results are not the intended ones though. Women who do not get satisfied at all tend to have their sexual energies blocked up, and so do not become more dependent on men. Men who are seriously sexually frustrated tend to become weak and unappealing to women.

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