Algorithms that had been designed to sift through a voluminous database of attributes listed in members’ profiles would sort and rank potential partners’ likelihood of attraction and relationship longevity.
Individual subscribers would then be presented with a slate of possible dates who, in time, might be possible mates.
It has, historically, a sense of being furtive—pushed into the underground for centuries—but once outside social constraints, it was a lot freer within a private, underground context.” In many ways, these were also the hallmarks of the early digital space: a private, members-only society with its own language and codes and libertine ethos that existed under the radar.
At the same time, Mayes recalls, the digital photography revolution of the 1990s served to enhance the sex lives of those who were drawn to the visual, to exchanging private pictures, and to creating homespun erotica that might invite and satisfy the fellow male gaze.
(In 1997, Mike Myers, with a debt to Wilhelm Reich—and to films such as . In the fantasy forums called MUDs, it was sometimes called Tiny Sex, as Sherry Turkle would note in her 1995 book , discussing early “computer-mediated screen communications for sexual encounters. as people typing messages with erotic content to each other, ‘sometimes with one hand on the keyset, sometimes with two.’ ”Along came CD-ROMs and DVDs—interactive discs that could be slipped into a disk drive or game console—which allowed users to issue simple commands and choose various options or outcomes in their sexual entertainment.
But for a species that now got its babies from test tubes, why shouldn’t a geek try to get his ya-yas out by way of Alpha Centauri? An Internet list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ describes the latter activity . There were Internet forums where people could post erotic stories (or add to others’ stories)—many of which would evolve into multipart series—that would attract tremendous followings.
“The gay world seems to lend itself to this idea of sharing stuff,” he insists. It has that reputation: open relationships, sharing partners, etcetera.
Sodomy was illegal in places like Texas until the 2000s. But it was a misguided belief that you were addressing a private club.
So the digital camera freed up people.” And those intimate digital photos could be easily traded electronically. If you wanted to, you could place an explicit photo online to attract partners, and you felt it was private. In fact, anyone could register and, more than that, you could download the image—and suddenly your own photo [would be] feral, animal, developing a life of its own.
In the early days of the Web, Mayes notes, “the digital sexual image is very private—you take it, put it up on your computer, share it just with the people you want to see it. For all the benefits that these websites brought us—gay and straight and otherwise—little did we know the extent to which our personal images would become public commodities that had the potential to spin out of control.”The Internet, for many, was a virtual singles bar.
On the largest dating sites, chemistry (both sexual and interpersonal) would be replaced by algebra.