Media and Reviews

The Erotic Engine

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Media and Reviews

Guilherme Pavarin | Galileu | February 2011

Pavarin, a reporter for this Brasilian Magazine, which has elements of New Scientist, Wired and Discover) did a Q and A about the Erotic Engine on the final page of this feature about the relationship between pornography and technology.

Read or download the PDF


by Drew Tiurney | The West Australian | December 14, 2010

Have you booked a flight or done some Christmas shopping online this year? Or was your household one of the many in Australia that drove broadband penetration from 10 per cent in 2003 to nearly 50 per cent today? If so you might wonder what internet pornography has to do with you. Even if you’ve never even taken a peek, journalist and technology watcher Patchen Barss thinks you owe a huge debt to our huge appetite for sexual imagery.

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by Drew Tiurney | published in the Sydney Morning Herald | December 12, 2010

The Erotic Engine’s most successful aspect is as a prism to examine what we want from technology rather than fetishising technology itself. A thoughtful, entertaining and sometimes hilarious book.

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by Liza Power | The Age (Melbourne) | December 4, 2002

Barss’s broader tapestry is human nature: why, since the dawn of time, 
humans have felt compelled to capture, produce and disseminate graphic 
depictions of sex.

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This piece aired on Radio-Canada, a French-language public broadcaster on November 23. In it, Christiane Charette leads a thoughtful discussion and review of The Erotic Engine

Listen to the podcast


November 6, 2010: Judith Ireland at the Canberra Times reviews The Erotic Engine jointly with Gail Dines’ new book, Pornland. “Between them, The Erotic Engine and Pornland argue that porn has a powerful influence on our lives, even if we don’t know it,” she writes.

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ABC’s The World Today: How the sex industry has driven Google

Eleanor Hall, host of this national public affairs show, really pushed to get beyond the fact of the phenomenon known as the Erotic Engine to try to understand why pornography has been such a powerful influence.

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript


From a November 8 interview with Steve Austin, in which the ABC Brisbane radio host asked about the past, present and future influences of the pornography industry on mass communications.

Listen to the podcast


On the November 7 episode of this national Australian radio show, co-hosts Johnathan Safran and Father Bob asked about cave drawings, virtual worlds, addiction and much more.

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From November 2 to November 5, 2010, The National Post published four edited sections from The Erotic Engine. These included: a general introduction, medieval religious texts, media empire builder Moses Znaimer, and cash-based Internet transactions.

Part 1: The “dirty secret” of technology history

Part 2: Of porn and piety

Part 3: The birth of U-tube

Part 4: When things get dirty, cash is king


In this thoughtful and thorough interview, Capital News Online reporter Alyssa O’Dell spoke with Patchen Barss about what makes pornography such a driving force in the way we interact with each other.

Listen to the podcast


by Joe Grimm | Internet Evolution | October 14, 2002


If you want to know where the Internet will be tomorrow, look at what the pornography industry is developing today — even if it makes you cringe.

For 40,000 years, writes Patchen Barss, pornography has pushed technological innovation and developments that were later adopted by mainstream industries.

Read the whole article


by Paula Todd | The Globe and Mail | October 13, 2010

Guess what? You owe more to smut than you may realize – at least according to Patchen Barss, who argues in The Erotic Engine that pornography doesn’t get the kudos it deserves for technological advances so innocently enjoyed by mainstream Internet surfers.

Read the review


Recently, I sat down with Cynthia Loyst, the host of CP24’s show, “Sex Matters” to talk about The Erotic Engine. My segment is Part 2 of the show dated “Sept. 31.”

Watch the video


The Erotic Engine received a nod in the prestigious Harvard-based blog, the Annals of Improbable Research. This blog covers research that “makes people laugh and then think.” It is run by the same people who organize the annual Ig Nobel prizes.


by James Cowan | published in Canadian Business magazine | Septebmer 27, 2010

Predicting the extinction of an eons-old industry may seem hyperbolic, but the prognosis for the skin trade is indeed bleak. Smut peddlers once bragged their business was recession-proof; now they face tumbling profits, layoffs and salary cuts. Established producers report revenue has fallen by as much as 80% in the past three years.

Read the whole story


On September 14, I sat down in Studio Q with Jian Ghomeshi to talk about cave drawings, microphotography, the Internet and other communications tools that have been shaped by pornography, sexual representation and passionate love.

The interview is the first item on the Q podcast from that date.


by Antonia Zerbisias | published in The Toronto Star | Sept. 12, 2010

Patchen Barss might well have called his first book Hard Drive.

After all, the central thesis of The Erotic Engine is that pornography has almost always powered human communication, all the way from dirty cave paintings to Google.

Read more…

“With an argument rich in fascinating stories and compelling characters, Patchen Barss proves this page-turner’s startling thesis: pornography inspires advanced forms of communication. The Erotic Engine is enlightening, entertaining, and intellectually titillating.”
MICAH TOUB, author of Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks


“From the first cave drawings to how ‘jiggle physics’ advanced computer graphics to the ‘twitterdildonics’ of the future, a thorough, accessible, smart and insightful look at how pornography has driven communication technology throughout history.”
JOSEY VOGELS, sex and relationships columnist and author of Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy

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