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How to Tell We're In a Recession

All the old cockroaches are crawling out of the woodwork to feed.

Incredibly, unbelievably, I'm actually starting to see spam from two of the Web's former most notorious spammers, streamate.com and webpower.com again. Old-school spam fighters will doubtless recognize these names--porn sites notorious for their spamvertising back in the day, who've kept a (relatively) low profile for years. I can remember being flooded under an avalanche of spam from these guys like five or six years ago.

Well, they're back. Just a trickle now--an email advertising live sexy Webcams here, a set of cloaked redirectors that hop from server to server to server before ending up on Webpower there--and it makes me wonder if times are getting tough in the porn spam business. Maybe there's some belt-tightening happening, folks aren't buying as many subscriptions to pay-for-play Webcam sites these days, the owners of the sites are wondering how they're going to make the payments on their Ferraris...who knows.

Webpower is a particularly interesting case, in that kind of yucky "I study cockroaches for a living because I'm fascinated by insects that eat their own young" kind of way. They started out making a gadget to allow remote control of sex toys over the Internet--a program you'd run and a little box you'd plug your vibrator into. The box had a suction cup that would attach to your computer monitor, and the program would flash a colored square on the monitor to send commands to the vibrator.

They got out of that business pretty quick--I don't think anyone's really made a profit on Internet controlled sex toys yet--and started doing porn Webcams instead. Their Web front page doesn't suggest anything about them--just says "WebPower is an internet services and infrastructure company with offices located on both the West Coast (San Francisco bay area) and East Coast (South Florida)" with links to a "web services division" and a "web conferencing division"--but their bread and butter is live cam sex, and they've been in the spam business for almost as long as spam has been around.

It's amazing to see this particular blast from the past. I haven't been spammed by these guys since about the time I started dating Shelly.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
insurance spam and netflicks are the 2 I remember best, and look, one even made a success out of being a spam
spam spam spam spam...... I'm sure you remember the song
Oct. 22nd, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
I don't think anyone's really made a profit on Internet controlled sex toys yet

How is that possible? I mean this seems like it would be on the short list of insanely profitable things involving the Internet. I mean isn't getting people off step two in the famous scheme:

1) Random idea
2) Get people off
3) Profit!

Man I'm suddenly disappointed in human ingenuity...
Oct. 25th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
it seems that an Internet controlled sex toy, like a flying car, is one of those things where everyone says "wow! Cool! I want one of those!" but doesn't actually pay for. It's an idea that seems appealing in the abstract, but when it comes time to shell out the bucks... Well, something happens.
Oct. 25th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
I think the more apt comparison is that of virtual reality games that became briefly popular a few years ago. Basically the concept sounds good but the limits of the technology make it a disappointment. Having some kind of serious virtual presence where you could have a sensation of being with somebody would be huge. But a USB connected vibe is a long long way from that.
Oct. 22nd, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Yes, porn sales are down.
Oct. 25th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
That surprises me. I'd expect porn to be recession-proo , because even in a recession people still want to get off. Compared to going out golfing or eating out a couple times a week, or even seeing two or three movies in a month, porn seems to offer pretty good bang for the entertainment buck.

...says the guy who's never spent money on porn.
Oct. 22nd, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
It may not be a recession (yet). Someone noted in an On The Media interview that porn seems to be a zero-sum game. Most people do the porn thing when they have extra time from stuff they'd rather be doing. It turns out that they'd rather be doing social networking stuff.

This guy noted an almost inverse relationship between the rise of social networking and the fall of porn sites. Furthermore, when Facebook tanked a few months back, porn access increased . . . until FB was back.

Might Myspace force porn spammers out of the corners? Interesting.
Oct. 23rd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
You have a nostalgia for spammers?! - ZM
Oct. 25th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
Heh. Not a nostalgia so much as surprise to see a few familiar old cockroaches I thought were squashed a long time ago.
Oct. 25th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
Hiya... I spotted you on sextips and I really was impressed with your wealth of knowledge on topics discussed and your consideration towards the OPs and other posters. I've added you to my LJ and added you to various filters... just in case you wanted to add any thoughts and/or opinions on some things I occasionally write about. =)

♥ ~ J
Oct. 27th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Howdy, and welcome aboard!
Oct. 27th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
Utterly unrelated, but I just friended you. I've been reading various communities you're in for ages, and I always like what you have to say.
Oct. 27th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Welcome aboard!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )