April 22, 2002
Sex, Money, and Blogging

Philip Larkin thought (or at least wrote) that the Sexual Revolution could be precisely dated:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me) --
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.
        (Annus Mirabilis)

Of course, it was a more gradual process than that, though most of the change happened over a relatively few years.

It stands to reason that when large numbers of new producers enter a market and begin to offer a commodity for free, those who continue to charge for it will suffer severe downward pressure on their earnings. I suspect that the Sexual Revolution damaged the earnings of professional prostitutes and forced some of them to go into other lines of work. Of course, it would be difficult to prove this, since economic research on illicit activities is inherently imprecise.

If I am right, I wonder what the sexual professionals thought about the new competition from amateurs. Again (I imagine) nothing good. Few prostitutes write autobiographies, so it would once more be difficult to prove. Perhaps the memoirs of the more bohemian musicians, artists, and writers of the fifties and sixties would provide useful information.

One reason I think my hypothesis may well be true is that much the same thing is happening now with journalism. The professionals are worried, in some cases perhaps even terrified, that they will be left unemployed and pensionless by competition from amateurs, that is, bloggers.

They are right to be worried. It is not only that it is difficult for expensive software to compete with free software (to take one obvious parallel). Other factors are involved. As with erotic amateurs, what we bloggers lack in technical competence and elegance of presentation is outweighed by our enthusiasm for the positions we take (if you will excuse the pun). Our relative lack of experience is not much of a handicap, as we can and do learn the necessary skills on the job. The most important similarity is that we only do it as long as we enjoy doing it, and take time off whenever we don't: since we have day jobs to fall back on, there's never any need to keep on scribbling promiscuously just to put food on the table or pay the rent. (Not that there aren't a few nymphobloggers out there who just can't stop blogging and keep it up, so to speak, pretty much around the clock.) This freedom from base greed helps us preserve our self respect. In short, we're not in it for the money, and it shows: we do it for love.

(signed) Another happy blog slut, Dr. Julius Weevil

Posted by Dr. Weevil at April 22, 2002 10:05 PM