In this month's Wired, Columbia sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh presents the fascinating results of years spent studying sex workers and technology. Venkatesh interviewed 290 women; his discoveries were many, but maybe the most interesting is that just carrying a Blackberry increases a prostitute's earning power, suggesting clean health and professionalism. A pretty amazing signifier, and probably one that Blackberry manufacturer RIM isn't any too psyched about. (Although you never know.) More of Venkatesh's findings:
• The internet has allowed prostitutes to cut out the middle man (pimps), booking their own clients online. Eleven pimps Venkatesh interviewed in 1999 were unemployed by 2003.
• In 2003, prostitutes found 9% of their clients on Craigslist; that number's down to 3%, while 25% of clients are now found on Facebook. 83% of call girls have Facebook pages.
• Prostitutes often carry two cell phones because clients like to take one away to establish a power dynamic.