Cant Keep Track of Your Sex Life? The Internet Can.
What would your sex life look like as a pie chart? How many times have you orgasmed from intercourse over the last twenty years? Has your favorite position changed over the years? These are the kinds of questions web developer Kevin Conboy wanted answered when he built Bedpost, the website that keeps track of your sexual history so you dont have to. Along with at least two other sites, MyBlackBook and Boffery, Bedpost takes the idea of cataloging daily life online to a whole new level, asking users whom they slept with, when each session started, to how theyd rate the encounter on a scale of one to five. Not surprisingly, Bedpost and its competitors are dredging up the question one thats resonating even among sex techs supportersif Web 2.0 has gone too far.
Far from being a site for bragging about sexual conquests, Bedpost was created for those who are just really into collecting personal data. My wife and I have been together since we were teenagers, says Conboy explains over the phone from his home in Boulder, Colorado when asked what got him started on the project last year. After getting older and having children, I was reminiscing about how we used to be together, and I wondered, how much sex have we had together in our whole lives and what has changed over the years? Theres all this data thats flying off of you at any given momentlike when you have sex. Wouldnt it be great if there was a tool to save that data? He and his wife were initially the only two users of Bedpost.
Of course, the site didnt stay private for long. These days its in beta, fast on its way to opening up to the public. Still, even with 900 users cataloguing their day-to-day sex lives there, Conboy insists, Theres absolutely nothing dirty about the site. Its worth explaining that, while Bedpost tracks your encounters, and even turns them into handy graphs, none of that info is available to anyone but you, the user. Theres no social aspect. Theres no finding someone to have sex with and then recording it. Its just there to be used for you, says Conboy. And people do seem to be using it. With over 3,000 more eager personal data aggregators waiting for a beta invitation, 70% of those already on the site said in a recent poll they thought about Bedpost directly afterward having sexor, in some cases, during.
Still, Bedposts light-hearted approach to self-curiosity doesnt explain one crucial thing: why is this info online? If users really are keeping it to themselves, why not start a spreadsheet and call it a day? Conboy makes no apologies for playing into the Web 2.0 stereotype that nothing we do is real until we write about it on the Internet. Im a web developer and those are the skills I have.
Its also clear why Robert Ianuale, the founder of MyBlackBook, turned to the Internet. Few people could, or would, track so much information on their own. Unlike Bedpost, which has a friendly, easy-to-use feel, MyBlackBook is a no-frills site that claims to collect sexual data for the purpose of spitting it out as a percentage chance a user might contract an STD. (The actual medical accuracy of those numbers is questionable, at best.) It also has a lot more gall than Bedpost. Not only does the system ask you exactly what sexual positions you tried, it also wants the full name and phone numbers of the people you jumpedalong with their birthdays. All that begs the question: if users need a website to help them keep track of their bedmates, will know their last names, let alone their date of birth? Says Inanuale, All our features are there because users requested them.
With all that personal info online, lets hope MyBlackBook is truly for your eyes only, as described by Inanualewho wouldnt say specifically where his business was located. (The answer: The New York/New Jersey metropolitan area). As he sees it, hes saving lives, not promoting conversations about sex. Even we dont know who does what, he says. We only see info in the aggregate.
MyBlackBook, which came out with barely a whisper back in 2005, was the first of these over-sharing sites, but its still getting 40 new users a day, nearly three quarters of whom are male. Ianuale cant explain it. I believe men are more promiscuous than women, implying maybe men are more worried about STDs, however I believe women put more emphasis on their sex lives, he says. In general users are in their mid-twenties to early thirties. Initially we thought the demographics would be on the lower end, he reflects. We thought 18 to 21-year-olds would be using the site. We see now that slightly older people are the ones who are taking their sex lives a little bit more seriously.
If sex writer Melissa Gira Grant has her way, soon those looking to document their sex lives on line will have yet another site to choose from. Along with a handful of other founders, Grant is working on a project called Boffery, which aims to map sexual connections like well, a map. Custom privacy settings will let us show only as much or as little of your stories as you, she said a recent blogging workshop at San Franciscos Center for Sex & Culture. The result might well look like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but with ex-lovers.
For now, says Conboy, people want to catalogue the sex they have online, but that doesnt mean they want to share it. I could easily build a Facebook application for the site, turn things into a social network. I just dont want to, he claims. Despite the name, this isnt about notches on a Bedpost. Im sure somebody is going to build a site like that for bragging eventually. But its not going to be me.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.