Night Nomad 2 Wrap Up: Exploring the tech behind intimacy

If there was one word to sum up last night’s Something Digital Night Nomads event “Exploring the tech behind intimacy”, it would be incredible. 
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The sold out event was a testament to the digital legends in Brisbane, who are willing to step up and be a part of bold – and sometimes uncomfortable – conversations. The evening cemented our belief that if we want to be a part of the huge shifts in our digital ecosystem (those that are already occurring and those that are yet to come), we have to be willing to show up and engage.
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Leading this discussion at the Josephmark studio were 5 digital legends:
  • Ben Johnston (Moderator), Founder, Josephmark
  • Dr Judith Glover, Design Researcher, Industrial Design Program, RMIT University
  • Madison Missina, Sexologist + Sex Educator
  • Michelle Flynn, Director, Lightsouthern
  • Eva Sheliukhina, Founder, Bravi
The panellists were bold and passionate, and shed light on several topics that were mostly spoken considered ‘taboo’. While it was exceptionally difficult to narrow them down – we’ve collected some of the amazing moments from the night for you below.
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You can also jump onto the hashtag #SomethingDigital or #NightNomads, or find us under @SD_BNE on Twitter to grab some more meaty insights.

>> On sex as a taboo

The elephant in the room was called out in the opening few minutes. The reality is that sex still a taboo in society. So how do the panellists deal with prejudice during their day-to-day lives?
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“I still think that anything about sex gets you nowhere i.e. in terms of putting in on a grant or an application. If you put it in academia, it’s harder for people to tear it down.” – Judith Glover
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“I started producing porn 12 years ago. It’s still very much stigmatised. But tech and platforms have provided a space to talk about it publicly and openly.” – Michelle Flynn
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“Initially we started with fantastic momentum to break down taboos. More and more sex workers popped up in the media and were able to talk about themselves. However, this is starting to slow down.” – Madison Missina
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“I’m very surprised by how closed up people are when they talk about sex. They’re excited when I start talking about AI, but when I hand them my business card, they get nervous.” – Eva Sheliukhina

>> On the need for honest and open conversations on sex

We then moved onto thew slightly more confronting sections of the topic. The panellists shared perspectives on WHY the need for honest and open conversations on sex is needed, and how they are important in their respective industries and forming a healthy society.
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The average age of a male who has viewed hardcore porn is 9 years old. There’s a reason why this is illegal … it’s because it influences their sexuality.” – Madison Missina
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“I have a problem with recruiting male talent. We’re not able to recruit male talent who understand what we need from them. They haven’t had these healthy, open and honest conversations about sex.” – Michelle Flynn
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“As a society we need to separate sex from violence. For example, starting some of those debates after a rape incident occurs [that is publicly broadcasted] … at least we are having some of those conversations. It’s slow education.” – Judith Glover

>> On the use of tech FOR intimacy

A huge part of this topic is how tech is being used in the creation of sex toys and porn … whilst we didn’t dive specifically into #sexrobots, we did get some insights on the initiatives that are less-hyped by the mainstream media (and we broke some boundaries along the way)..

“We only shoot VR porn in 180 degrees. The performer needs to look right down the other end of the barrel. The intense eye contact + whispering in the ear, that’s paramount to producing VR porn.” – Michelle Flynn
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“The content that comes out of VR porn is way more intimate and close. It’s a completely different experience to conventional porn.” – Madison Missina.

>> On how tech is influencing our intimacy with each other

While the panellists shared differing opinions on how tech is currently influencing intimacy, there was a general consensus that tech is simply a tool that will bring us back to an intimate human connection.

“For some people, it is very difficult to discover their sexuality. For some, AI or sex dolls are how they can support their own intimacy without feeling embarrassed by another person.” – Eva Sheliukhina
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“People are reverting back to Tinder to make those initial connections before they instigate them in real life … but tech can only take us so far when it comes to intimacy.” – Judith Glover
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“I think intimacy changes depending on our opinions. I think we need to acknowledge that people do find intimacy and community through these online platforms that are just as valid.” – Michelle Flynn
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“Intimacy is the ability to feel close and show up as yourself. When it comes to using tech, we’re using those platforms to MEET like-minded people. Intimacy is what you do when you’re alone.” – Madison Missina
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And that’s a wrap on our 2nd Night Nomads event! Thank you to our panellists who were crucial in bringing this event to life and leading a bold conversation, right here in Brisbane. A huge thank you to KJR who is our Superhero partner for our Night Nomads series and Josephmark who hosted Exploring the tech behind intimacy.
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Ps. We would love to know your thoughts on ANY of the above, simply tweet us @SD_BNE or #NightNomads #SomethingDigital.

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