When it comes to technology, it's the great unfulfilled needs that matter most. That's where the next fortunes will be made. But if you're in the tech biz, how do you know what users want if you're hanging out with techies all the time?
You turn to sex. Here are seven reasons why your tech company should send you to sex conferences like Sex 2.0, Arse Elektronica and Sex in Video Games rather than to mainstream events like this week's Web 2.0 Expo.
1. You'll learn what people do with tech in private.
Even if your company springs for usability testing and focus groups, people aren't going to admit what they do when they think no one's watching. My friend who put an extra monitor in her office so she could dedicate one screen just to Facebook isn't going to reveal at a technology summit what she does with it at night. At a sex conference, however, that personal information can become a bona fide user case study.
2. Tech adapted for sex has applications outside the bedroom.
A tech conference exposes you to ideas people have already had. A sex conference exposes you to people who aren't afraid to ask for what they want, no matter how technically improbable it seems. You can use your tech-savvy brain to adapt these desires for general usage and present them to your boss. Meanwhile, you can create a sex-specific application on the side, knowing you have a willing user base waiting breathlessly for your next release.
3. Social-media platforms are built for sex.
If an application becomes crucial to lovers, they will have no problem coming up with genuine reasons to integrate that tool into their work flow. And once corporate users are on board, the paper millions are just an IPO away.
4. Young people -- your future customers -- do it with tech.
There's money in bridging old-school romance with new media, and the sex-positive community knows how to make that leap better than anyone. When today's youth get out of school, they're going to remake the world the way they want it -- and that means tech will be an essential ingredient in courtship, romance and sex. It's so essential to young people's communication now that they don't even realize they're doing it. And this is at a time when they're still spending most of their time surrounded by their peers. Just wait until they're out of school and in the workforce.
5. Sex bloggers reveal more than other people. A lot more.
Users in focus groups don't always possess the communication skills to get their true messages across. They also don't know what they don't know. Sex bloggers, on the other hand, are happy to communicate their needs, in minute detail, to someone they believe can satisfy them. Buy them a drink after-hours and you're in for something more fulfilling than the most comprehensive requirements-gathering meeting ever.
6. Sex conferences are tech conferences.
Until recently, sex conventions fell into two basic categories: medicinal/clinical and pornographic. Now, social-media pioneers are creating smaller, targeted gatherings that treat sexuality and technology as inseparable. Five years from now, this won't be shocking. And the gatherings won't be that small, either. Not that size matters.
7. Sex conferences happen in 3-D fantasy worlds made manifest.
Many of the most exciting exchanges happen after-hours at tech conferences. But more and more, organizers are holding serious sex-tech conferences in adults-only venues like swinger clubs and BDSM playgrounds. Observing how people interact professionally and personally in these spaces gives rise to many ideas for making your virtual environment stickier. Virtual world entrepreneurs know that whiz-bang wares can bring people in, but only relationships can entice them to come regularly.
Bonus reason: You might have a sexual experience of your own.
Granted, this reason isn't likely to go over well if you include it on the list of why your boss should approve your trip to a sex expo. While people who go to sex conferences can't be written off as a bunch of perverts who invent tax-deductible reasons to get together for wild orgies, we all know that going too long without a loving touch is a drag. It makes us too irritable, tense and depressed to perform our best on the job. Isn't that the major criticism of tech-mediated relationships, high-tech jobs and constant connectivity -- that we lose touch? Personal interaction is key to building a Web 3.0 we can all be proud of.