Insight Porn is Relative

In one of Sister Y's best essays she writes about the concept of 'insight porn'. Insight porn is never really defined except by example, and there it seems to mean something like 'media which is rich in providing the feeling of insight'. This almost seems like a waste of the term to me, since we have a word that means that already it's called insightful. Rather I would define insight porn in perhaps the same way you might define porn itself. Porn is sexuality without sex. Insight porn then, is mapmaking without the territory. Things which aren't in your environment are things which aren't assailable through empiricism. A necessary consequence of this definition is that insight porn is relative!

A brief example might be waste management. If I read a textbook on waste management and begin teaching myself how you build a municipal sewage treatment plant, that's pure entertainment for me. I'm never going to have to model a waste treatment plant, let alone build one. By contrast, for a waste manager that's his job. He'll read that same book and be able to point out flaws, treasure the particularly valuable information, and overall be able to relate its contents to his life in a concrete way that I just couldn't. To me reading that textbook is mapmaking without the territory, to him it's some of the most valuable mapmaking of all, directly relating in a rare and valuable way to his daily experience.

Sister Y conceives of 'insight porn' as being an objective quality of something, which I think is only half true. There are some things which nobody has access to territory to compare against. For example most Science Fiction, the frontiers of physics, theology, weird thought experiments, certain kinds of historical speculation. These are always insight porn. But for everything and everyone else it really is situational.