Are you ready for some contradictions? Systems are necessary, and systems are terrible.
I’ll start at the beginning: According to the box cover of Razordolls (Kill the bear!) my first xxx scene was shot on June 5th, 2006. Meaning it will have been ten years since I started performing.
You might think the bulk of an adult performer’s work hours would be spent on set, performing in scenes. As a contract performer in the late 2000s, the bulk of my work hours were spent giving interviews, participating in signings at brick and mortar stores, and attending conventions.
Before the DVD market began to show obvious signs of dwindling, I hauled boxes of DVDs to most of those adult conventions and sold them directly to consumers.
(Now I bring a little drawstring bag full of USB drives and a small stack of liner note booklets. EDIT: And I wear flats half the time, and make use of chairs.)
Desperate for something to take my mind off of how much stilettos start to hurt after your third hour standing on concrete covered by a thin carpet, I paid extremely close attention to those consumers. And I started to notice patterns.
If I had two different titles out on the table, most of the people who came up to me would glance at them and then walk away. If I had ten different titles, about half would examine everything before developing a mildly glazed look in their eyes and also walking away.
With a range that small it was no special effort to find the sweet spot through trial and error, and for me the sweet spot was six. Six prompted the most questions about the products, and resulted in the highest sales.
(If I’d read Barry Schwartz’s “The Paradox of Choice” I could have saved myself some mental effort, but the mental effort was my original goal.)
When TRENCHCOATx soft launched, it had six different series. This remained sustainable for about a week, and then we needed to start building an organizational system.
Systems are necessary.
The issue here is that those kinds of systems understand everything as a data, including people, making the whole exercise inherently dehumanizing. No more dehumanizing than Tindr or Ok Cupid, but still—any time we’re sorting people or aspects of people into categories of labels we’re going to see some amount of generalization at work. Usually a large amount.
Systems are terrible.
Getting rid of the worst words was easy: milf/teen, interracial. We just don’t use them. The difficult part is the issue of vocabulary when you’re dealing with a few different sets of user demographics.
Because if most of your potential audience can’t understand the words, they’re useless as communication tools. So it’s a balancing act, and that balance also has to shift to take into account shifting language norms. Constantly.
I can’t imagine anything more exciting to work on.
The Squick/Squee project should always be sticky. We should always be noticing new problems and problematic effects. And if we ever stop feeling like it needs to be fixed, we’ll know that we’ve failed—not succeeded.
(Speaking of fixing up–this CMS. It’s about time.)
[Edit 26 Mar 2016: Fixed. It isn’t fancy but at least it sizes properly to a cell phone now.]