Archive for September, 2009

Review: Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland

September 29th, 2009

Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo and Pygmies by Stewart Copeland hits bookstores today, September 29. Review by Nicole Pellegrini (sockii)

* * *

I feel a little bit like pulling a Jedi Mind Trick here to start off this review. Or that perhaps Stewart Copeland has pulled one over on all of us readers, or that he should do before the angry shouts and rampant confusion surely begins.

Police fans looking for, at long last, Stewart’s definitive statement on The Police?

*handwave*

“This is not the book you are looking for.”

As far as I see it, Stewart made his definitive statement on the early Police years with Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out. (You can read my original review of that film in my archives.) If you’re expecting much more here, you’ll be disappointed, although there are a few brilliant gems of observation that slip through the cracks when and where you least expect it.

Diehard Stewart fans–the self-proclaimed Nutters and Snarks–looking for deep personal insight and a detailed history of Stewart’s life and all his various projects?

*handwave*

“This is not the book you are looking for.”

Stewart Copeland is not here to divulge all his secrets, nor dish the dirt on his past relationships, musical or personal. If you’re looking for either type of information, you’ll be highly disappointed (go read band mate Andy Summers’ book “One Train Later” instead). What Stewart is here to do is share some stories with us, and most of these stories are quite lighthearted and fun in their nature and tone. They’re the kind of stories you’d share at a dinner party to good friends, people who will get all the in-jokes and references you’ll be making. It’s no wonder that when Stewart first shared some of these stories on his website, it was in a section of the site entitled “Stewart’s Dinner Tales”.

But if you’re looking for a traditional autobiography? Seriously, listen carefully to me, right now:

“This is not the book you are looking for.”

* * *

Structurally? Strange Things Happen is kind of a massive hot mess. It’s divided into four sections: Stewart’s early life (where he sticks The Police); immediately after The Police; the years 2000 – (roughly) 2007; and lastly the reunion tour. I found myself oddly reminded of a Kurt Vonnegut novel as I read through it all, with the various chapters jumping here and there through time–some very short, some longer; the narration from Everyone Stares stuck in-between the prose as a substitute for a developed chapter on the Police’s early years.

However this jumpy shatter-shot structure seemed to emphasize the surreal nature of some of these events and adventures Stewart describes in his tall (drummer) tales. How does one go from being at the top of the world with The Police to seeking out pygmy tribes in Africa? Playing polo matches against Prince Charles? Becoming a reality show “celebrity”/villian? It’s a wild life story that probably could have filled several volumes if described in detail, but that’s not the intent here. We get the highlight reel instead–and with Stewart’s clever prose and eye for pertinent, well-chosen detail, a great deal is often revealed in just a few words or sentences.

Some Police fans seem put off by the fact that The Police (v 1.0) is dismissed so quickly in the book. I think the important points Stewart wants to share about that time were, again, already made in his movie and then emphasized in the brief chapter that follows here, “Police Rule”. He doesn’t talk about the band, his bandmates, the creative (and other) tension between them. He talks about the disorientation of being The Rock Star, an idolized one, and the effect it has on one’s mental well-being.

It was getting claustrophobic. Privacy deprivation is something like sleep deprivation. The love that surrounds you becomes vexatious.

I often wished that I could merely turn my collar up and shun the light.

But Police fans really should relax and take a deep breath, as they get more than enough about the band in the last section of the book. Again mostly snippets from here and there as the reunion tour rumbled along, it is an enjoyable look into the machinery of the band: rehearsing and road rituals, major tensions and how and where they were resolved; what brought out the best and worst in each of them as musicians (and individuals) and why it was painfully, clearly obvious that there could never be a “new” Police album after all of this was over. As far as individual incidents go, I especially enjoyed the chapter “Raging Kumbaya”, Stewart’s story of hanging out with Rage Against the Machine as well as the section in the “Toast in the Machine” chapter on what happened when Sting and Les Claypool crossed paths.

* * *

The book’s Afterward, entitled simply “The Green Flag”, apparently seems troubling to some members of Stewart’s fandom and is getting very mixed reactions so far. I personally find it a very suitable ending in its ambiguity and the quandary presented. The afterword is placed side-by-side in the book by a full-page picture of Stewart with his wife and family, with the caption “This is who I really am”. The message is not very subtle, I don’t think: “I am not a superhero (Halloween costumes excluded.) I’m just a regular family guy who has had some strange things happen to me.”

The story of The Flag has been told well by others elsewhere, and will continue to be told by the fans who participated in its travels for years to come. (Goodness knows, whenever I can finally find the time to edit together my book of fans’ recollections from the tour, that story will be told many times over!) But fandom is a funny thing. I spend a lot of time thinking about and writing about fandom, having been involved in various ones for most of my life. Fandoms very much are communities which develop their own rules and rituals, symbolism and language, as Stewart hints at here in the Afterward. And they can develop an almost religious fervor about them. Fans converge at conventions and at concerts, often donning ritual gear and costumes to identify themselves in a crowd and feel united. Fandom can by joyous; sharing in a common love for a band, artist, film or tv show can be great fun. Yet it can also turn ugly very quickly and harmful quite easily, both for the members of that fandom and for those at the center of all that attention. Everyone Stares certainly gave many of us a first-hand view of what it could be like to be in the middle of that kind of fannish mania and attention, and one gets the sense that Stewart is rather cautious about anything that could encourage or set off that crazed adulation again.

Which is not to say I necessarily believe that Stewart “reads” the Flag as such. But I do get the feeling that there’s a sense of caution in embracing it too closely lest it get out of control–for those waving the Flag as much as for him. Throughout the book, we’ve read his stories of what it’s like to try to find a normal life in the aftermath of being The Rock Star one time around. And as much as he may have enjoyed the ride this second time during the reunion tour, there’s an understanding of where taking it too far can lead.

“The folks at the concerts aren’t bowing down so much as rising up in exultation, but I’m just saying that I have an idea of what it feels like to be a golden calf.”

It’s cautionary in tone as much as it is a loving (well, I think so, anyway) acknowledgement of this “nutty” fandom that Stewart has, which he’s long been more than generous with supporting and encouraging for these many years.

In the end, this is a book I’m very happy to be able to add to my collection of materials related to The Police and the members of the band. At times it’s frustrating, at times it’s hysterical, and some times it’s utterly brilliant. It’s another piece to the puzzle that is/was The Police that probably has no solution nor answer, but a piece I’ll enjoy going through again from time to time for a good chuckle and to mull over in my mind–like any good dinner tale that deserves retelling amidst the best company.

Relationships between game attendance and baseball community size on LiveJournal and its clones

September 27th, 2009

I’m working on another little analysis of fandom. This time I am looking at the size of baseball fandom on various social networks. I’ve finished getting data for LiveJournal and its clones. I thought some people would be interested in this before I publish a complete analysis in the next few weeks.

I got the average attendance for home and away games. (And combined attendance.) This information was by team. I then compared this to the current size of team specific fan communities on LiveJournal by finding all the communities dedicated to a team. I got the total number of communities, total members, total watched by, total posts, total comments. I repeated this for LiveJournal’s major clones: Blurty, DeadJournal, Dreamwidth Studios, Inksome, InsaneJournal, JournalFen.

I then ran correlations. The simple conclusion so far:

  • LiveJournal community size variables tend to correlate with home, away and combined attendance across the board. The only category with a strong correlation for all variables is the number of communities. Of all the services and categories, only LiveJournal has strong correlations. (That being a Pearson’s Correlation of .5000 and above.)

    Blurty correlates all but total comments for Away attendance.

    Dreamwidth correlates for Total Posts and Home attendance, and all but total comments for Away attendance.

    InsaneJournal correlates for all categories, but has no correlation above .5000.

    Inksome and JournalFen have no specific communities dedicated to baseball. DeadJournal has two, but neither of those communities have any posts or comments made in reply to them.

  • Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value for Nielsen Ratings

    September 25th, 2009

    On January 15, 2009, CSI had one of its highest rated episodes all season.  On that day, people published 26 new pieces of fan fiction, the most stories posted on the same day as an episode had aired. On September 25, 2008, CSI had it third lowest ratings day all season and people posted zero new stories on that date.

    Fan fiction is a really popular outlet for fan expression of interest in television shows.  The stories are creative, explore plot lines in the show and, according to many fans, help market a series in a positive way.  Fans often argue that their activities mirror larger interest in a show, and that producers should pay more attention to them and cater to their fannish interests as the example provided seems to demonstrate.  Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value for Nielsen Ratings tests this fan theory and answers the question: Does the volume of fan fiction published in the period around when an episode airs correlate to Nielsen Ratings?

    To answer this question, fan fiction daily posting stats were gathered for the one week period around television shows where fan fiction communities existed and Nielsen Ratings were available for that show.  The fan fiction data was compiled from six archives: FanFiction.Net, fanfiktion.de, FanWorks.Org, FicWad, SkyHawke, and Freedom of Speech Fan Fiction.  The Nielsen Ratings data included over 720 episodes representing thirty-nine shows.  Once this data was compiled, it was analyzed using Pearson’s Correlation and linear regression. 

    The results confirmed what many fans already suspected: Levels of fan activity, specifically in terms of the production of fan fiction, mirrors interest specific episodes of television.  Fan fiction can be used to predict Nielsen Ratings.  The predictive value is strengthened in several cases when it is broken down by network, genre or specific television show. The best networks for predicting Nielsen Ratings are CBS, The CW, Disney, Fox and USA. Comedy, crime comedy, crime drama, medical comedy and sports drama are the best genres for predicting Nielsen Ratings.  The strongest correlations for  television shows for predicting Nielsen Ratings are Burn Notice, CSI, Eli Stone, Friday Night Lights, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Hannah Montana, Heroes, iCarly, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Life, Prison Break, Psych, and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    This information is potentially valuable to parties with a vested interest in a television show’s performance.  By analyzing content patterns around periods with high volumes of fan fiction and high Nielsen Ratings, comparing that to periods of low posting volume and lower Nielsen Ratings, producers can make changes to maintain high interest amongst fans.  Non-American television networks and advertisers can better predict how their shows will perform.  This method of analysis can help organizations save money as it is cheaper to monitor and track than other analytic tools.

    A copy of Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value for Nielsen Ratings can be found at http://www.fanhistory.com/FanFicNielsen.pdf . The appendix can be found at http://www.fanhistory.com/FanFicNielsenAppendix.pdf .

    Jorja Fox: Still not pregnant

    September 24th, 2009

    During tonight’s new episode of CSI (which I totally squeed over. I love Sara.), Fan History saw an increase in search traffic related to Jorja Fox being pregnant. According to the several Jorja Fox fansites I check regularly, she isn’t pregnant.

    And really? Watching that episode? I don’t see it at all anyway. I could understand Sara Sidle pregnant ideas because of Grissom/Sara fans desiring it… but Jorja Fox? No.

    After Lawsuit Threat, LyricWiki Is With Wikia

    September 23rd, 2009

    Written by Nile Flores (@blondishnet on Twitter)

    A recent article in The Register called US music publishers sue online lyrics sites. TechDirt also covered this in their article Music Publishers Now Suing Lyrics Sites And Their Execs. One of the sites included was LyricWiki. Basically this lawsuit would shove the site in with those who burn and sell music without a license.

    Also, recently Wikia acquired LyricWiki. As explained in their LyricWiki:Wikia Migration FAQ:

    The dream will live on – Yay! Wikia has arranged a licensing deal so that royalties can be paid to music publishers, which will avoid the nasty risk of the site being sued out of existence. It’s good to know that our years of hard work won’t be evaporating any time soon! This is a gigantic relief for me and I’m sure many of you as well.

    It is unfortunate to hear such things have to happen to some sites. I am willing to bet it was more for the money to sue in these economic times, rather than to stick it to another for copyright infringement. With so many sites out there that involve lyrics.

    No offense, but when I go to a lyrics site, I am usually thinking of a tune or maybe a friend asked and here I am searching to find the song. Not all artists print their lyrics within their albums. I know, I have quite a few CDs on my shelf to prove that. So – these lyrics sites are really useful. Some of these lyrics sites I have gone to for years have been open for over a decade. How is a .ORG site (which technically by definition means the site is not really for profit) actually profitting from this?

    As Michael Masnick said in his Techdirt article about his opinion on these lyric sites being sued.

    I’d really like to see them prove that. These sites aren’t profiting off the backs of songwriters, they’re helping more people find and understand the lyrics of songs they like. That gives fans a closer connection to the music and more reason to buy things which will actually bring songwriters money. It’s stunning how shortsighted and backwards the music publishers are being here.

    Although it has been said years ago that it was indeed illegal to do such, these sites have been harmless. Anyway…

    For me to LyricWiki, I guess it kind of was a forced move to go to Wikia. Myself, I probably would have done the same if faced with being sued and the licensing price alone was insanely expensive. Sorry to hear about it – may Wikia not kill your site.

    Yay! More positive press for Fan History!

    September 22nd, 2009

    Kate at Dandizette interviewed me for her site. A copy of the interview can be found on the site: Conserving fandom. I’m really pleased with it. You should definitely check it out. It goes a bit into why preserving the history of fandom on Geocities is important. :D It discusses what we plan on doing on Fan History and more. Read it please! :D

    Most popular team sports around the world

    September 21st, 2009

    I’ve been compiling a list of sports teams based on sport and country for a project I am working on for Fan History. The selection of teams now is around 33,000 teams. This information has come from FIFA, the NCAA, Wikipedia, sports federations and league websites. I think it could easily hit 40,000 if I spent some more time building the list. This list includes professional, semi-professional and some amateur teams that play in collegiate, national and international competitions.

    Given all that, I was kind of curious… What countries are the most popular team sports? Based on this sample, I got created the following chart:

    Number of teams by sports

    There are a couple of issues with this list, especially when it comes to bicycling. I’m not familiar enough with the sport to understand the different versions or standard spellings for those variations.

    Countries with the most sporting teams

    September 21st, 2009

    I’ve been compiling a list of sports teams based on sport and country for a project I am working on for Fan History. The selection of teams now is around 33,000 teams. This information has come from FIFA, the NCAA, Wikipedia, sports federations and league websites. I think it could easily hit 40,000 if I spent some more time building the list. This list includes professional, semi-professional and some amateur teams that play in collegiate, national and international competitions. 

    Given all that, I was kind of curious… What countries have the most sports teams? Based on this sample, I got created the following chart:

     

    Country

    Number of teams

    United States

    20842

    Australia

    1792

    Croatia

    810

    Canada

    730

    Spain

    593

    Norway

    497

    Sweden

    398

    Mexico

    246

    Turkey

    243

    England

    236

    NorthernIreland

    205

    Ireland

    204

    Belgium

    200

    Brazil

    193

    Bulgaria

    173

    Russia

    148

    New Zealand

    138

    United Kingdom

    134

    Scotland

    132

    Germany

    127

    China

    122

    Slovenia

    116

    The Netherlands

    111

    France

    109

    Ukraine

    107

    South Korea

    104

    Puerto Rico

    102

    Barbados

    96

    Portugal

    94

    Japan

    93

    Poland

    93

    Hong Kong

    90

    Thailand

    90

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    82

    Taiwan

    82

    South Africa

    81

    Wales

    76

    Austria

    74

    Denmark

    73

    Iran

    71

    Switzerland

    70

    Hungary

    62

    Uruguay

    61

    Finland

    58

    India

    58

    Bermuda

    55

    Greece

    54

    Czech Republic

    53

    Singapore

    53

    Philippines

    50

    Belarus

    49

    Chile

    49

    Latvia

    49

    Slovakia

    49

    Romania

    48

    Pakistan

    47

    Botswana

    46

    Cameroon

    46

    Cuba

    46

    Malaysia

    46

    Montenegro

    45

    Iraq

    43

    Cyprus

    42

    Israel

    42

    Italy

    42

    Senegal

    39

    Nigeria

    38

    Afghanistan

    37

    Bahrain

    35

    Serbia

    35

    Bangladesh

    34

    Lithuania

    34

    Sri Lanka

    34

    Uganda

    34

    Argentina

    32

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    32

    Estonia

    32

    Kazakhstan

    32

    Tanzania

    32

    Andorra

    31

    Algeria

    30

    Iceland

    30

    Morocco

    29

    Azerbaijan

    28

    Costa Rica

    27

    Lebanon

    27

    Syria

    27

    Yemen

    27

    Colombia

    26

    Indonesia

    26

    Kyrgyzstan

    26

    Macedonia

    26

    Oman

    26

    Solomon Islands

    26

    Sudan

    26

    Tajikistan

    26

    Angola

    25

    Egypt

    25

    Kiribati

    25

    Qatar

    25

    Georgia

    24

    Maldives

    24

    Zimbabwe

    24

    Benin

    23

    Kuwait

    23

    Lesotho

    23

    Malta

    23

    Côte d’Ivoire

    22

    Kenya

    22

    Niger

    22

    Congo

    21

    Ghana

    21

    Luxembourg

    21

    Ethiopia

    20

    Jamaica

    20

    Malawi

    20

    Papua New Guinea

    20

    Sierra Leone

    20

    Uzbekistan

    20

    American Samoa

    19

    Brunei Darussalam

    19

    Haiti

    19

    Libya

    19

    New Caledonia

    19

    Zambia

    19

    Fiji

    18

    Mali

    18

    Mozambique

    18

    Albania

    17

    Aruba

    17

    Burkina Faso

    17

    Nepal

    17

    Rwanda

    17

    Togo

    17

    Trinidad and Tobago

    17

    Tunisia

    17

    Bolivia

    16

    Ecuador

    16

    Gambia

    16

    Great Britain

    16

    Guatemala

    16

    Kosovo

    16

    Madagascar

    16

    Moldova

    16

    Swaziland

    16

    Tonga

    16

    Belize

    15

    Cape Verde Islands

    15

    Jordan

    15

    Mauritania

    15

    Mauritius

    15

    Mongolia

    15

    Namibia

    15

    Saint Kitts and Nevis

    15

    Samoa

    15

    Vietnam

    15

    Antigua and Barbuda

    14

    El Salvador

    14

    Gabon

    14

    United Arab Emirates

    14

    Armenia

    13

    Cambodia

    13

    Cayman Islands

    13

    Cook Islands

    13

    Grenada

    13

    Honduras

    13

    Macau

    13

    Niue

    13

    Palestine

    13

    Saudi Arabia

    13

    Turkmenistan

    13

    Bhutan

    12

    Dominican Republic

    12

    Faroe Islands

    12

    Netherlands Antilles

    12

    Panama

    12

    Paraguay

    12

    Suriname

    12

    Venezuela

    12

    Bahamas

    11

    Tahiti

    11

    Vanuatu

    11

    Seychelles

    10

    Tuvalu

    10

    Gibraltar

    9

    Guam

    9

    Nicaragua

    9

    Comoros

    8

    Greenland

    8

    Nauru

    7

    Palau

    6

    Turks and Caicos Islands

    6

    Dominica

    5

    Guyana

    5

    Netherlands

    5

    Central African Republic

    4

    Falkland Islands

    4

    Liechtenstein

    4

    Saint Pierre and Miquelon

    4

    San Marino

    4

    US Virgin Islands

    4

    Anguilla

    3

    Burundi

    3

    Djibouti

    3

    Eritrea

    3

    Guinea

    3

    Guinea-Bissau

    3

    Laos

    3

    Liberia

    3

    Myanmar

    3

    Norfolk Island

    3

    North Korea

    3

    Peru

    3

    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

    3

    Somalia

    3

    Soviet Union

    3

    Timor-Leste

    3

    Wallis and Futuna

    3

    British Virgin Islands

    2

    Chad

    2

    Equatorial Guinea

    2

    Korea

    2

    Monaco

    2

    Saint Helena

    2

    Saint Lucia

    2

    Tokelau

    2

    West Indies

    2

    Yugoslavia

    2

    Bonaire

    1

    Catalonia

    1

    Chuuk

    1

    Curaçao

    1

    Czechoslovakia

    1

    East Germany

    1

    England

    1

    Federated Malay States

    1

    French Guiana

    1

    Great Britain

    1

    Guadeloupe

    1

    Guernsey

    1

    Isle of Man

    1

    Jersey

    1

    Khazakstan

    1

    Leeward Islands

    1

    Marshall Islands

    1

    Martinique

    1

    Mayotte

    1

    Micronesia

    1

    Montserrat

    1

    New Zeeland

    1

    Northern Cyprus

    1

    Northern Ireland

    1

    Northern Mariana Islands

    1

    Pitcairn Islands

    1

    Pohnpei

    1

    Réunion

    1

    Saarland

    1

    Saba

    1

    Saint Martin

    1

    Sao Tome e

    1

    Sint Eustatius

    1

    Sint Maarten

    1

    Slovak Republic

    1

    Somaliland

    1

    South Vietnam

    1

    South Yemen

    1

    Straits Settlements

    1

    Transnistria

    1

    Vatican City

    1

    Wallonia

    1

    Western Sahara

    1

    Windward Islands

    1

    Yap

    1

    Zanzibar

    1

     

    This table needs to be fixed some.  Countries need to have their names standardized (Slovakia vs. Slovak Republic).  There are also issues regarding territories and what is considered a “nation.”  Still, it begins to give a good idea of the size and influence of team sports around the world.

    Why Fan History won’t be moving to Wikia any time soon

    September 20th, 2009

    Why Fan History won’t be moving to Wikia any time soon

    I’ve written several variations of this post with varying tones and purposes. Some of these drafts have gone in to several pages. I’m posting this rather simply because in the end, it really is simple.

    I’d like to preface this with I have nothing but respect for Wikia. They have done some fantastic things for the wider wiki community. They’ve released several extensions that have been useful to the Mediawiki community. Wikia has sponsored several wiki conferences. Their community is helpful in terms of learning how to handle different situations in the wiki community. They host a lot of unique content that cannot be found elsewhere. They’ve helped expand the definition of what wikis are capable of doing.

    But Fan History will not be moving to Wikia any time soon because Wikia wants to own Fan History. We would have to change our license, remove our business plan, give up control of the community, could not leave, would have to give Wikia our domains, etc. When Wikia has approached Fan History LLC about acquiring it, Wikia has generally used the approach of treating the acquiring of Fan History like it should be a hosting decision for Fan History LLC and downplayed the ownership issues. While we love Wikia and some of the things that Wikia has done for the wider wiki community, we do not appreciate their approach in this regard.

    Fan History is a business. We are incorporated as a single entity LLC. We have a business plan. We have an intern and are currently looking for more. We have been seeking funding to grow the wiki, improve our back end, integrate and improve FanworksFinder, create related products. We have hired developers to do work for us. We attend professional networking events. We try to keep our actions on the wiki professional and businesslike, rather than purely fannish and hobby like.

    If Wikia were to acquire Fan History, it would be great for their business. Fan History Wiki would take Wikia from about 3.2 million pages to 4 million pages. Fan History has the potential to create an organizational structure for Wikia’s entertainment and sports wikis. Fan History is set up to easily promote Wikia’s other content inside of our own. We have a large amount of content that could have its SEO optimized quickly, with the right team, that would significantly improve its current traffic. Fan History has a number of articles in content areas that advertisers would be happy to have ads placed on. Many of these content pages are for areas where Fan History LLC has little competition in terms of potential audience. Long and short, Fan History has a lot going for it that would really, really help Wikia on several levels. We would be cheap to host, cheap to maintain, would require little staff involvement as there is an active and dedicated admin staff. We’re aware of out potential monetary and PR value to Wikia. All of this could help Wikia’s bottom line.

    Fan History is a business. We identify as a business. We are registered with the state of Illinois as a business. We do not feel that Wikia has approached us, in their talks about hosting (acquiring) us, as a business acquisition. Their representatives have minimized our real business concerns as not important, or that they are irrelevant to Wikia acquiring us. (Even as these things are central to our business plan, and to our identity in the community which we operate.) They want to us to utilize their free hosting, putting us in a situation where we can help their bottom line. They want us to hand over our business to them, for free. If they want to acquire us, they need to treat us as a business and make a serious acquisition offer. Any other approach is an insult.

    An A-Team movie finally coming together?

    September 20th, 2009

    Post by sockii.

    Proposals and scripts for an A-Team movie have been going around for over a decade, but now it finally looks like it’s going to happen for real. The main cast seems set: Liam Neeson taking over George Peppard‘s role as Hannibal Smith; Bradley Cooper in Dirk Bennedict‘s role of Templeton Peck; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Mr. T‘s role of B.A. Baracus, and now Sharlto Copley in Dwight Schultz‘s role of H.M. Murdock. Jessica Biel is also apparently in the cast as an ex-fiance of Peck now hunting the team, and Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson will play a CIA operative on the hunt for the team.

    The story and characters will be updated so that they will be Iraq War veterans instead of Vietnam vets; what else will change or stay the same remains to be seen, though early pictures show an A-Team van much like the original’s.

    As a die-hard A-Team fan for many decades, my feelings about the project have been mixed from the start. I read an early script for the project back in the 1990s which was truly dreadful, bearing virtually no resemblance to the characters and tone of the original series. But at this point I have to admit to at least a little curiosity of what will come about now that the film is genuinely going to happen, with an expected release date of June 11, 2010. I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson, although I don’t quite see him as Hannibal Smith without some major changes to the character. Murdock was always my favorite character so I’ve always been highly resistant to the idea of anyone other than Dwight Schultz in the role (Jim Carrey was long a rumor, but apparently “too expensive” for the project and I’m glad for that). Yet Sharlto Copley seems like a potentially good choice based on what I’ve seen of him so far after his breakout performance in District 9. That said, a lot of the longtime A-Team fans I know are decidedly not enthusiastic about the project, no matter who is cast in the roles because it won’t be the team they know and love.

    If the film is successful – which of course is no guaranty – I’ll be curious about the effect on the fandom, which has been steadily chugging along for decades with a low profile but fairly continual stream of fanworks production. Will there be a separate fandom that develops for these new interpretations of the old characters, much as what happened with the Star Trek movie this year? Will the popular slash pairings change or be the same (if there are any slash pairings that take off?) Will there be conflict between the new and old fandom, or will the old fandom try to capitalize on the newfound interest in the A-Team and try to welcome new fans in to explore the world of the original series?

    It should be interesting to see, and l’ll be following news about the new film with great interest as it develops.

    ‘Tis the Season…already?…for fandom Secret Santas.

    September 18th, 2009

    It may only be mid-September, but for much of fandom, that means Secret Santa season has begun. Holiday exchanges for fanfiction and fanart have become a huge part of many fandoms in recent years. While Yuletide may be the largest and one of the most widely known, there are many other smaller exchanges to be found today to give fans a chance to create new works specifically to fit other fans’ requests.

    There are many exchanges geared for specific fandoms, small to large. Especially huge fandoms such as Harry Potter have multiple exchanges for specific ships, slash and het, as well as for gen fic.

    I’ve been working on compiling an extensive list of Secret Santa exchanges to help fans find ones geared to their specific interests and fandoms. Of course, additions and corrections to the list would be greatly appreciated, as the status of many past challenges are not clear yet for 2009, although others have already begun the sign-up process weeks ago.

    My own Secret Santa exchange, xmas_rocks, will be in its fourth year this winter and has just begun the pairing nomination process. An exchange open to all rock musician/bandom pairings, I’m always interested to see what will be the most requested and written artists and acts for the year. Perhaps we’ll see some Michael Jackson fan-fiction this year? I’m tempted to request it myself…

    Kyle Cassidy to photograph fans at New York Anime Fest

    September 15th, 2009

    If you’re planning on attending the New York Anime Festival on the weekend of September 25 – September 27, you might want to check this out.

    Photographer Kyle Cassidy will be present on Friday taking fan portrait shots between 2-5pm, for an upcoming gallery show. You can see some of his great work from this year’s WorldCon here.

    FanHistory is also hoping to be present to help document the event and continue our outreach to the anime fan community.

    Are you a sports fan looking to find others to play with you? Check out sportkin

    September 14th, 2009

    I hang out a lot in AboutUs‘s chatroom where I help with pro follows, creating articles and adding tags. Sometimes, I find some really cool people who are promoting their websites. Today, I found one such individual and I asked them to send me an intro about their site so I could post it to Fan History’s blog. Their site focuses around sports and I’m a huge sports nut. (I’d also like to see Fan History’s sports section improved.) This is what I got and I encourage you to check them out!

    What is Sportkin – It’s the digital media platform designed to bring together individuals who share a common interest of sport.

    About Sportkin:
    It is our intention to unite  the Global sporting community,  Sportkin is pioneered to help all sports people in  finding other athletes of their own sporting interests and abilities, then unite, practice, and communicate together, hence perform better together. Sportkin serves many convenient functions to help athletes discover their full potential; furthermore, it brings tranquillity to ones sports lifestyle.

    Key Features:

    Members & Visitors:

    * Find sports players*
    * Find sporting Activities*

    Members:

    * Unite with sports people through a circle of kinship
    * Communicate with members
    * Create and manage* multiple sporting activities (and make it happen again within the click of a button)
    * Participate in multiple sporting activities

    What can Sportkin do?

    Because Sportkin is consistently setting new targets and striving to achieve them, new features will be consistently introduced, it is thus the features listed below, may be less than the actual number of features on the website.
    Twelve Reasons to Use Sportkin
    1. Sport has no limits, so why limit yourself? There are close to 500 different types of sport on Sportkin to choose from!

    2. For many of us sport is just for our spare time, and you might think it’s not necessary to join a website just to play sport, since you can easily go for a run by yourself or call a friend to go out and play. But it’s not always that easy, sometimes we need little nudge!

    3. Sportkin is more than a social network, it’s a digital media platform designed to unite people with the common interest of sport. From sporting contacts to sporting activities, Sportkin has all the features you need to help you get sporty!

    4. What if your friend or sports partner moves out of town one day, or is injured, or even worse, doesn’t like you any more? This could be the perfect excuse for you to stop playing sport, and you don’t want that to happen!

    5. What if someone in your area is feeling depressed, lonely or left out? You could help cheer them up by playing a game of sport with them, and they may even be able to teach you something!

    6. What if someone is new in your area? They might not have any friends to play sport with, and maybe you could help them find new friends – and maybe they could help you improve your game!

    7. Just a few more to go! But if you want, you can join Sportkin first and come back to this page later. We’ll be here when you get back, because the only place Sportkin’s going is up! We already passed the point of no return back in 2005 when we first had the idea for this site.

    8. There are also some people who might need a change of crowd, and as the saying goes: a parent is successful only when their child is successful! So why not get your parents into sport too? And remember – it’s not what your community can do for you, it’s what you can do for your community!

    9. Thinking of getting into sport for the first time, or getting back into sport after a long holiday? You’ll be suprised how many others are too! Most Sportkin members arrived here after Googling “find a sports player”.

    10. What if you’re a professional athlete? Don’t worry! There are other professional athletes on Sportkin too – in fact, Sportkin is for everyone, from beginners to pros. Each person’s skill level is checked against the other players they’re engaging in sporting activities with.

    11. There are lots of cool and exciting features continuously being added to Sportkin, because we’re motivated by helping individuals to discover their full potential and move beyond!

    12. Sportkin was designed to save you time. And best of all, Sportkin is free to join and free to use, so why not give Sportkin a try? It’s safe, secure and you have total control over your privacy!

    If you have a passion for sport, and want to see world unity, then help Sportkin unite people through sport.
    Add a link to your website from http://www.sportkin.com/info/resources01.php

    P.S If you know of anyone looking to get into or back into sport, tell them to signup at sportkin. Its free to join, and free to use. Thank you

    » Read more: Are you a sports fan looking to find others to play with you? Check out sportkin

    Write wiki articles and books will be sent to Africa

    September 11th, 2009

    You know, I spend a lot of time hanging out in #wikihow on Freenode and they’ve been talking about this for almost two weeks now… I haven’t thought to mention it so I feel kind of guilty. wikiHow has a charity drive going on during September 2009. wikiHow will sponsor a book for a child in Africa every time a registered user writes a new article. It’s pretty simple and there are lots of how-to articles that need to be written on the site: How to write Harry Potter fan fiction, how to ask some one if you can include their original character in your work, how to cope when your fan fiction has been plagiarized, how to post fan fiction on Quizilla, how to be a Chicago Red Stars fan, how to make a Twilight fanvid… all just a few I can think of off the top of my head. Below are a few more details from their site which can be found at http://www.wikihow.com/wikiHow:Books-For-Africa:

    wikiHow has an educational mission. We are creating the world’s how-to manual to provide a practical education to millions of people around the world. Every time you write an article, patrol an edit, add a photo, you are helping to provide a practical education to someone else. wikiHow is also a “hybrid organization,” unlike many for-profit corporations, we are always looking for innovative ways to serve the social good in accordance with our mission. With that in mind, we’ve decided to experiment with a one-month program that more directly extends our educational mission to children in need whom we aren’t reaching via our website.

    So here is the experiment: For the month of September, wikiHow will sponsor a book for a child in Africa every time a registered user writes a new article. In addition, we will sponsor extra books for the author and new article booster if a new article receives a rising star.

    Why children in Africa? Africa is experiencing a book famine — school kids lack basic supplies and they are in need of textbooks and reference works. It is not uncommon for ten kids to share one textbook, or for children to practice their lessons in the sand since they do not have pencils and paper (here is a more explanatory article from CNN talking about the book famine in Africa).

    Dragon*Con – the overall con report

    September 11th, 2009

    Post by sockii.

    Yesterday I posted my report on the Dirk Benedict & Dwight Schultz panel at Dragon*Con. This is my day-by-day summary of the convention as a whole.

    Thursday, September 3
    For once, vespapod and I were leaving early enough that I could hopefully get some dealer’s room and artshow set-up done today. Our plans, however, were nearly thwarted when the radiator in his car went BOOM on the way to the airport! Fortunately we had time to spare to get the tow truck to pick up the car, catch a cab, and not miss our original flight.

    We arrived in Atlanta about 2pm, got our bags, got on MARTA, and headed straight to the Marriott Marquis so I could begin dealer’s room setup. My annual, lovely neighbors, Chimera Publishing, had a surprise for me since I’d gotten there early: an extra table! We had to squeeze it in “L”-ways in my table space, but I was hopeful that the additional display area would be beneficial to sales. I did basic set-up and then went to check into my hotel, the Wyndham, where I’d scored a room through the great dragonconrooms community at the last minute. We still had some time to kill before art show set-up would begin, so we headed out for an early dinner at Benihannas. The place is usually too packed to even try to get in once the con officially begins, so it was nice having a chance to have a pleasant dinner before the crowds descended.

    Registration line at DragonCon

    On our way to the Hyatt, we saw that the registration line was not just out the door at the Sheraton, but stretched well around two blocks! Afterwards I heard that people stood in line for upwards of three hours to get their badges, and the line was even closed early Thursday so some folks had to get right back in it Friday morning. A friend of mine commented that it was far easier to just pay the extra money at the con to buy her badge than to preregister – that the on-site pay line was only about a half-hour long. Me, I’m glad for my dealer’s passes: no lines, no waits, just show up on-site and get my badges! How easy is that?

    Vespa helped me with artshow set up and by that point we were done for the night. It had been a long, stressful day, so we headed back to our hotel, had a couple drinks at the bar, and then called it a day.

    Friday, September 4
    For once I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to do table set-up, so we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and got back to the Marriott about 10am to finish my table set-up. I was pleased with how much I was able to get out on display with my extra space, and was well ready for the room to open up at 1pm.

    Spacial Anomaly Gallery table setup

    vespa had a panel to go to right at 1pm, which was fine as Friday sales are usually pretty slow. This definitely proved to be the case: lots of crowds roaming through, but most people were just looking, perhaps mentally making notes on what they would like to come back for later (if they had the money after buying photo sessions and autographs.) vespa returned and then I left for the Dirk & Dwight panel, as described previously.

    The room closed at 7pm. My numbers were a little low compared to Friday’s for last year, but I was still optimistic. I met up with a friend and we all had dinner together at Azio, a pretty decent (if pricey) Italian place, and then crawled the Marriott, checking out the costumes, posing for photos with everyone from R2-D2 to Jack Sparrow, and then hanging out at the Marriott bar until exhaustion took over.

    Cylons invade the Marriott!

    Saturday, September 5
    Saturday came and I was hoping for big sales – last year it was my best single day of the con. Unfortunately, this year it would be my single worst day. The dealers room was quite often dead, and what people who were there didn’t seem to have much money to spend. I talked to a couple other dealers who were experiencing the same thing, although some others seemed to be doing ok. After talking to some friends and other folks, though, we decided that the slow sales were perhaps due not just to the slow economy but the huge amounts of money people were paying for autographs and photo sessions with the three main guests this year: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart. It was $200 to get a photo with Patrick – and that’s before getting an autograph on it, too! I know a lot of people were balking about these prices before the con, saying they weren’t going to pay it, that it was unfair…and yet, the lines were continually back out on the street for their photosessions and I know a lot of people who DID pay the price. And stand in hours-long lines after lines not just for the photos, but then to see these guests in their panels.

    So I really think that all contributed to the slower sales for dealers. It’s kind of a Catch 22: you want big name guests to draw attendees to the event, and yet if they are TOO popular and their autographs TOO in demand, those numbers don’t necessarily translate into better sales for the vendors.

    At the end of sales hours I was feeling pretty bummed out, for certain. vespa and I had dinner on our own at a sushi place a little off the main track of foot traffic and spend a little while checking out costumes that night. But my heart wasn’t all that much in it at that point. I had paid and posed for an official shot with Dirk & Dwight that evening, so the one thing I was looking forward to on Sunday was seeing how my photo turned out!

    Sunday, September 6
    Sunday we got to the Marriott about 9am, as I was eager to pick up my photo which was supposed to be ready at that time. That was when I learned that Froggy, the guy who did the photo sessions, had had virtually all of his equipment stolen that night! The lock to the storage room had been broken and someone stole the camera equipment, AND the laptop with all of the photos stored on it. Fortunately, the Dirk and Dwight pics had been printed the night before, and the theives had not stolen any of the already printed pictures – whew! But I felt really bad for the folks who were now going to have to either get a refund or try to get their shots retaken, now would not receive digital copies they’d paid for, etc. Not fun, and given their system for tracking who asked for/paid for what is a little loose and confusing, I wonder how they actually managed to sort it all out.

    Still, my picture turned out really great so I was happy.

    After re-setting up for the day, vespa left to go to one of the Dukes of Hazzard panels, which he said was a lot of fun as there was only about 15 people there, so they could have a real conversation instead of a large group talk. I then headed out for a break from the table, debating whether I’d go to a wikipedia talk or to Dirk Benedict’s solo panel. On the way there, however, I was distracted by a woman in an AMAZING H.M. Murdock costume. Even more amazing, it turned out we were long-lost friends from our mutual days in Xena fandom. So instead of the wiki panel I ended up catching up with her for about a half hour. We then wandered into Dirk’s talk, but I have to confess I was getting a little bored after about a half hour and slipped out to head to the Walk of Fame and see if Dwight was there.

    He was, and I got my picture from the day before signed. This time we had a little more time to talk and I mentioned I was friends with John Glover, a former classmate of Dwight’s from Towson. That set off a really fun conversation. After that, I checked back at my dealer’s table – still pretty slow – so I went back to the Walk of Fame once Dirk’s panel was up so I could get his autograph on my photo as well. He commented on how much fun they were having during the photos and it definitely shows!

    Dirk, sockii and Dwight

    After that was done, I pretty much stuck around my table save to hover in the artshow when bidding closed at 6pm. Sales there were ok – I moved about 2/3rd of the paintings I brought, even if mostly at minimum bid, and my mom did similar on her jewelry which I was agenting. Print shop sales were kind of slow for me, however. After that it was time to close the dealer’s room for the night. We met up with a local friend for a nice dinner at a nearby brewpub. After that, we were kind of too tired to do any more hotel crawling, so we called it an early night. Sales were still way down, though I was at least out of the red. I didn’t sleep that well, however, trying to scheme how to pull the con more into the black for me on the last day.

    Monday, September 7
    Mondays are always crazy for me at Dragon*Con. First I had to rush over to the Art Show to get a check-out number at 9am. I got there early, which was a good thing as they started giving out numbers early as well. I would be 6th for checkout at 4pm, which was good. Got back to the dealer’s table and, once vespa was set up to handle sales, I had to run stand in the line to buy my table space for 2010.

    This line took soooooo long. I was in it for about an hour, as the only people moving fast were those paying in cash. Finally they added an extra helper to take checks, and I handed over my money anxiously – despite the poor sales this year, I am going for broke next year and paid the extra money for a second tale. *gulp* Guess we’ll find out in 2010 if it pays off…

    vespa was ringing my cell yelling at me to get back as soon as I could. Sales were picking up, and to help that along we started doing some big discounts…30% off everything…it really helped even if it cut down on the profit per sale. With the push to move merchandise, at closing at 5pm (and combined with my art show sales), I estimated I was only down a couple hundred dollars from last year’s tally. Not great but I’d live with it. I got my stuff out of the art show and we did the mad pack-up, which took about 90 minutes. Made it to the airport with about three hours to spare before our flight.

    I was completely exhausted and so was vespa. It was a long, long weekend and it’s taken me a good three days after the fact to begin to feel back to normal at all. I always feel like Dragon*Con is an endurance race, and by the end I want to sleep for about a week solid. I also don’t want to see many human beings for a while either as the crowds get really, really old, really fast. Even so, we managed to have a pretty good time and I’m going to look forward to next year’s con. Though you might hear me hoping that next year, they won’t have such big name headlining guests…!

    *

    If you’re thinking about checking out Dragon*Con for yourself in the future, be sure to check out my Guide to Dragon*Con.

    Wikia is doing something awesome for fandom and wiki contributors

    September 11th, 2009

    While Fan History isn’t hosted on Wikia, we still love what they do. They are home to some of the best fandom wikis on the Internet for small fandoms and large fandoms. They have Wookipedia, Halopedia, The Muppet Wiki, Chuck Wiki, Creatures Wiki, Darthipedia, Hellboy Wiki, Lostpedia, Saturday Night Live Wiki, Stargate FanProd, and Yu-Gi-Oh Card Maker Wiki to just name a few.  If you don’t have the expertise to do your own Mediawiki install, aren’t as familiar with wikis as you could be so want something that is easy to use from the onset?  They are a great option.

    And they are doing something pretty damned cool. …  That I need to actually go out about setting up myself later.  Wikia has an answers site.  It’s pretty good but like a lot of answer sites, it doesn’t always feel like it has the niche audience for certain questions I might want answered.  (Ever tried looking for help finding a specific Twilight story on Yahoo!Answers?  It can be an impossible endeavor.)  What Wikia is doing is allowing people to create niche specific answer sites using the framework they developed for WikiaAnswers.  The part that excites me more is that for the person maintaining the answer site, they are giving half the revenue the wiki earns through Google Ads.  It is a way of giving back to the community that does the work in providing answers and to encourage you to help build up  your answers site to make it more useful for the community.  Often, the people in fandom who build awesome fandom resources don’t get the recognition they deserve.  More often than not, they don’t get compensation for their work and go in to large amounts of debt running their sites.  What they are doing means that fans can potentially get something for what they are doing and, for those who are cash strapped, can justify their fanac a bit more.

    So yeah.  If that interests you, get in touch with them to find out more.

    Dragon*Con panel report: Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict

    September 10th, 2009

    Post by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

    I only made it to one full panel at Dragon*Con this year, and that was the A-Team “Reunion” Q&A with Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict (actually, it wasn’t much of a Q&A, but I’ll get to that later…)

    I had to rush to get to where the panel was located in the Hyatt from my dealer’s table in the Marriott. I was surprised that, when I got there about 10 minutes before the panel was to begin, there was a HUGE line to get inside! I really didn’t expect that for an A-Team panel. Nevertheless, the room was fortunately a fairly large one (seating 200 maybe, and it did fill up) and I was able to score a single seat fairly close, in about the 5th or 6th row. Much to my amusement, as I was sitting down the woman next to me pulled out a blue baseball cap. I then noticed her tan pants and converse sneakers, matching my own, and discovered that I was sitting next to a die-hard Murdock fan, much like myself.

    An H.M. Murdock fan at Dragon*Con

    Dirk and Dwight came out a few minutes late to an enthusiastic response from the crowd. They were both lively and in good spirits, their off-screen camaraderie as evident as always. Indeed, they talked for some time about their off-screen friendship and how that was rather rare in Hollywood (a place Dwight described brilliantly as being full of “malignant narcissism”), and also how that had been strengthened during a time after the series’ end when Dirk was going through a bit of a personal crisis. They talked a lot about the beginnings of the A-Team: how Dwight was “fired” after the pilot episode and then re-hired after the screening results came in; how Dirk was supposed to get the part of Templeton Peck from the start and what it was like to join the show after the early filming had been done; what it was like first meeting George Peppard and what he and Mr. T were both like off-screen. Much of this wasn’t necessarily new information to anyone who’s seen Dirk and Dwight at cons before, but they are always fun stories to hear them tell: and both Dirk and Dwight do some hilarious Mr. T impersonations!

    Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict

    They also talked about practical jokes played on the set, and some of the difficulties in the later seasons with Peppard and T that lead them to take on larger parts to carry the action and dialog (Peppard and T would only work 10am – 4pm, so Dirk and Dwight would go on late into the evening to fill in extra screen time as necessary.) On a more personal level, Dirk talked for some time about leaving Hollywood and why he had decided it was more important to be a full-time father to his boys than continue pursuing an acting career. This got a loud round of applause from the audience, as did Dwight’s mention that he had been married to his wife, former actress (now a therapist) Wendy Fulton, for 27 years.

    The two of them talked for so long that there was only time at the end for maybe a half-dozen questions or so. I don’t remember the specifics of what was asked too well, although one person did bring up the James Bond-spoof episode The Spy Who Mugged Me, which got Dwight to do his great Sean Connery impersonation for a little bit. There was some mention of the potential A-Team movie but both expressed doubts it would ever really get filmed as there has been talk about it for so long, with so many different scripts proposed, and both were skeptical about the tone it would take. A number of people (myself included!) spoke up with thanks for The A-Team being their “first fandom” and the entire reason they were still in fandom today, which was really nice to hear. I managed to get in a brief question at the end for Dwight as well, asking if his talk radio show would be making a return any time soon, which he answered no, except for some fill-in positions, and deferred from going into any further detail during the panel since he didn’t want to/have time to get into politics there. Oh well; I wanted to ask because I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to get away from my dealer’s space later in the weekend to catch him on the Walk of Fame.

    They finished up soon afterwards and did mention they were heading right over to the Walk of Fame to do some autographs. So after checking in at my dealer’s space to make sure things were going ok there without me, I dashed over to the Hilton to get in line. Dwight recognized me right away and apologized for not answering my question further during the panel, so we talked then a little bit more about his talk radio work, what had become of “Dark Matters” and working with Don Ecker; how he was doing fill-in work at TRN on occasion and was still hoping to get a full-time/syndicated show in the future. I didn’t want to hold up the line too much longer (and later went back on Sunday to talk with him some more about other things) but I did get him to pose with me for a photo.

    Dwight Schultz and sockii!

    I also went to get Dirk’s autograph and a photo after that as they were seated right next to each other. Dirk’s line moved verrrrrrry slowly as he is quite chatty with people (and a lot of Battlestar Galactica fans were there asking him all sorts of questions.) He was nice as well, though I find Dwight a little more directly engaging and easy to talk to (as you come up to his table, Dwight gives you a big smile and reaches out to shake your hand. He really seems pleased to meet each person that comes to see him, instead of just doing this thing for the money.)

    So that was my big A-Team adventure for Dragon*Con! Later on I posed for an official “staged” photo with both guys, and caught part of Dirk’s solo panel, but Friday was definitely the fannish highlight of the con for me. As an A-Team fan who had only had the chance to see Dirk and Dwight separately before, and neither for at least ten years, I was really thrilled to see them both here and hope that they will come back and do Dragon*Con again in the future (and hey, next time give Dwight a solo panel! I’d love to hear him talk more about his other genre work…)

    *

    To learn more about Dragon*Con and attending the convention in the future, check out my Guide to Dragon*Con.

    Help wikileaks

    September 9th, 2009

    There are two things that Fan History Wiki loves: The fan community and the wiki community. The people in both are awesome and they keep us going. We love to give shout outs and mentions to anyone in those community who asks us and that we think could use support when they appear on our radar.

    Over on Twitter, wikisgnpost mentioned the wikileaks could use some help. If you haven’t heard of wikileaks, check them out. They are great when it comes to sharing information that the public should know. They need some monetary assistance to keep going with their mission. On their donate page, they give the following info so you can help them complete their mission:

    To contribute via bank transfer, please specify our account at the Wau Holland Foundation (a German charity which handles our tax deductability).

    Wau Holland Stiftung, Germany
    Commerzbank Kassel, bank number (BLZ) 52040021, Account number (Konto) 277281204
    (or you can use IBAN: DE46520400210277281204, BIC: COBADEFF520)

    To confirm, or contribute by VISA, Mastercard, cheque, Ukash, Moneybookers or other means, please contact wl-supporters@wikileaks.org . Contributions may be tax deductible, depending on your country.

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    WikiLeaks would like to thank the following 18 steadfast supporters:

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    12. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) 13. Public Citizen – founded by Ralph Nader
    14. together with the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) 15. The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF)
    16. the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    17. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
    18. Jordan McCorckle, the University of Texas

    Fan History on Dreamwidth

    September 8th, 2009

    Yes, we’re on Dreamwidth. At the moment, we’re probably going to use it to cross post content from Fan History’s blog and any announcements we have. It is just another place to find out about us and fandom on the Internet.

    We Believe movie release delayed

    September 8th, 2009

    Hey Cub fans! In case you haven’t heard the news, We Believe’s movie release date has been pushed back until Spring 2010. I’ve kind of been looking forward to this thing so it is a bit sad to see it pushed back… but maybe spring is a better time because right now? I just am not believing and stopped believing right after the all star break.

    Russet Noon meet Lee Goldberg

    September 8th, 2009

    If you haven’t heard, Lee Goldberg made a post about Russet Noon. You can find a copy of the post here. We’ve updated both of our articles in response. If there has been any recent news on the Russet Noon front, please comment to let us know or edit the article to include it.

    Developing communities on smaller wikis

    September 8th, 2009

    I originally wrote this for another purpose. I thought it might be interesting to people on my FList in regards to how we run Fan History, how we have gone about doing certain things, what has worked and what hasn’t worked. This has been slightly modified to be more applicable for a wider audience.

    Fan History, like other small wikis and multifandom projects, has had a problem with community identity. Most of our contributors don’t as Fan History community members or members of fandom. Instead, they identify as say Batman fans, Harry Potter fans, Twilight fans. This is a problem that we have been working to solve, even as we try to increase identity and participation inside those specific communities. We’ve been most successful at creating identity by doing two things: Having content that interests people that is not specific to any one fan community and by creating large amounts of content that help demonstrate the size and scope of the whole fan community. We’ve found that both solutions, in terms of content development, have been rather successful. Fan History has covered several fandom kerfluffles that have brought brand awareness. The kerfluffles cross fandom lines in terms of interest, principally due to the large number of people involved. Fan History also has worked to improve our definition pages. These articles connect fandoms by offering definitions from different communities, give examples from across fandom and link to panfannish discussions regarding the terms. People can really begin to see how various fandoms are connected. As a result of these kerfluffles and terminology articles, our visitors have poked around a fair amount. We’ve also blown out our content, going from representing roughly 3,000 fandoms a year ago to representing over 36,000 now. We’ve added a over 25,000 articles about specific pieces of fan fiction, added over 50,000 articles about episodes of television, and added over 50,000 articles about LiveJournal community users. All of these articles have helped the fan community understand that Fan History is for them, that it covers topics that are relevant to them, that it is easy to plug in their own knowledge in to our framework with out fear. Both of these strategies have been successful in their own ways. Definition and kerfluffles ways have helped foster a greater sense of fannish community in the whole of the fannish community. They have helped to increase our traffic and our brand identity. Blowing out our content has not necessarily been as successful in terms of fostering community development inside and outside the wiki. It has helped some with our brand identity and it has with our conversion rates in getting people to contribute to the wiki. These solutions, going hand in hand, have really been successful for us.

    Beyond content development, we’ve tried several things to encourage community development and to increase the number of edits that an individual makes. For a while, we tried to welcome new members and individually thank IP addresses that contributed to Fan History. We also tried barn stars. These strategies weren’t very successful in terms of converting a one time or occasional editor in to a regular editor. Our admin team discussed the situation, brain stormed ideas where we could be more effective at community building and helping our contributors; in response, we changed tactics. Our policy became to look more closely at specific edits and monitor for certain types and then respond to offer assistance that addresses those edits. One example involves articles about fan fiction writers. In some cases, they have changed their pen names. When we see edits that indicate that they have changed their names, we offer to help them do that or see clarification as to what they are trying to do. We have found that doing to leads to additional edits to an article to improve it once those changes are made and that the individual will frequently come back to more regularly update the article.

    When you’re working on a wiki with a small community, you frequently know the one or two other contributors. You were might have brought them on board. It can sometimes be easier to just send them an IM, a text message, drop them an e-mail. This was a problem that we were occassionally facing on Fan History. Our admin team has become rather close. We often feel like we know what other admins are thinking and respond accordingly. We’ve discussed how this can be bad for a wiki. Our communication channels are not transparent when we do that. It might appear like our admin team is a clique, where our first goal is to maintain our status on the wiki and in the wider fan community. The team made a commitment to using talk pages to discuss all manner of things that we are doing. This includes how to avoid drama that may reflect poorly on us, what sort of content we want to develop, issues with templates, where we need a bot to be run to fix spelling or categorization issues and more. We tried to make sure that in discussions with contributors that more administrators were engaging the community. We tried to balance that so it wouldn’t look like we were dog piling on our contributors. This has been rather successful. Our engagement on the wiki has help our community relations outside the wiki because people can see what we are doing, have the tools to more fairly evaluate our decision making processes and members of the broader fannish community feel like they can approach on wiki or off to deal with concerns that they may have regarding our content. It has also helped internally by improving our communications with users, by making it easier to implement contributor feedback and by fostering a sense of internal community.

    Wikis tend to need to define the size and scope of their mission, how to create content to meet their mission, policy creation and how they will enforce their policies. Much of this involves internal decision making that will have an impact on external factors. If the scope is too big, it will be hard to develop content or make the project feel overwhelming. If it is too small, the wiki may turn into a pet project that doesn’t have a large possible pool of contributors to draw from. If they create content with complex templates when they are first starting off, that may prove a barrier to entry for some people who read the content. If the wiki policy is too restrictive, people may not feel like they can contribute because they don’t want to break the rules, understand complex categorization policies or how to create stub articles that are acceptable. If it is too open, there is the potential for a lot of drama as people seek to dominate in certain places by sheer force of will. These are issues that we’ve been working on with Fan History. We’ve worked on policies with both the internal community and external community in mind. The point of the policies has always been to serve the community that exists on the wiki, to serve the information and make it as best as we can, and to be accessible and culturally appropriate when dealing with external critics. For content, we defined our scope and then went the automated route to create stub content to make it clear where the borders of our scope was. According to occasional contributors we’ve surveyed informally, it made the wiki feel less scary as they had base content to start from and they had many examples they could pull from regarding what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. For policy, we made a point of having policy discussions on the wiki and rationalizing those steps so that future wiki users could understand our thought processes. While a well developed community of users does not exist, we went outside the community to our acquaintances who were occasional editors. We surveyed their opinions, incorporated their comments in to our discussion. We invited them to participate in the discussion on the wiki. We also listened to external criticism regarding policies and incorporated that feedback as we developed our policy. The results of this that we are the most proud of involve our deletion policy found at http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Help:Article_deletion . Community develop on wikis for ones that don’t have the good fortune to go viral is hard. This is a lesson that we’ve learned at Fan History.

    It takes a great deal of work to be successful. It can be especially challenging to build a community because for wikis, it is often easy to overlook community aspects because wikis so often focus on content. We’ve learned that it takes building content with the idea of how random contributors will feel comfortable editing, actively engaging contributors in a way that will solicit a response, being transparent in terms of what the admin team is doing to avoid feelings of cliques, making organizational patterns easy to understand so as not to confuse your contributor base, not being too harsh when enforcing policies, and thinking about what your internal community building will mean in the wider community that your wiki is part of. We hope that you can take our lessons and learn from them as you develop a community on your own wiki.

    MediaMiner.Org and privacy

    September 7th, 2009

    This was brought up by a friend on my FList over on LiveJournal: “your profile asks for your real name. However, that is actually displayed on your profile page as Name/Nick. So beware and don’t fill out the real name field accurately.” (source) If you are worried about your real name showing up on Google and use MediaMiner.Org, go check your settings to make sure that you didn’t reveal your name on accident.

    Fan History, kerfluffle documenting, linking and informing

    September 4th, 2009

    Fan History covers a lot of topics. One of our most popular article types, in terms of volume of traffic, involve kerfluffle articles. Unlike other articles on Fan History, these articles tend to have two or three contributors. They are updated frequently as a major kerfluffle goes down. Most of the contributors to these articles tend to be Fan History admins or friends of Fan History admins. Given the last statement, I felt it was important that we outline our notification of linking policy and why we chose our particular policy.

    During a major kerfluffle that anyone is covering, there are generally three approaches:

  • Provide links and commentary in a summary of the events. Do not participate in the kerfluffle. Document it. Do not go to people’s blogs and comment to say that Fan History has linked to them. (Don’t troll the wank.) This is the philosophy that fandom wank has adopted.
  • Participate in kerfluffle as you normally would. Do not announce that you are linking to posts on the posts you are linking to, unless you are responding to something where linking to the post is necessary.
  • Inform every person that you linked to in your write up that you linked to them. This is the philosophy of linkspam.

    There are benefits and drawbacks to each philosophy. Fan History’s policy for its admin staff is to follow the first one: Do not go to people’s blogs and comment to say that Fan History has linked to them. We have chosen this policy for our admin staff for a variety of reasons.

    First, we see Fan History’s mission to include documenting the history of fandom as fairly as we can, in as unbiased manner as we can while accurately describing events that took place. We believe that if we actively inserted ourselves into the conversation by commenting to link a person to our post and announcing that we linked to them that we would not be able to work towards Fan History’s mission. It would make us participants in the conversation, and that would hurt our ability to be unbiased, fair and factually accurate. We would be forced to participate and defend our commenting to inform.

    This leads to the second reason: The need to defend if people were upset by our linking could also possibly serve to derail important conversations. We want to document the history. We don’t want to derail conversation in fandom that people think are important. This includes conversations on issues such as gender, race, privilege and more. These are important conversations to have. By changing the focus, making it more about Fan History and that we linked to the person, we may be sending a message that we think we are more worthy of being discussed than the topic in the post.

    The third reason and final reason we don’t link is that Fan History is that people can easily find if they are linked on Fan History. We’re rather search engine friendly and people can find us if they search for us. In many recent kerfluffles, our articles have been well linked so people can find us in the stream of links around a kerfluffle that we are covering. If people really want to know if they are linked, it is pretty easy to do so.

    Before ending this post, I just want to make it clear: This policy is for Fan History’s admin staff only in terms of how we contribute to kerfluffle articles. It is not our intention for links on these posts to be used as starting places for people’s trolling. We also do not hold our contributors to the same policy. If they want to add links to an article and inform people that they linked to them, that is their pejorative.

  • You are notable

    September 4th, 2009

    We’ve had a couple of deletion requests recently on Fan History where we have had to turn people down because they are notable. These requests were connected to people involved with Race Fail 2009. Because of this, we went through and pro-actively put labels on a number of articles to announce that the article was about some one notable and was not eligible for deletion. There are probably 50 articles that are effected by this decision. During the coming weeks, we are likely to review major kerfluffles in fandom and add notable, not eligible for deletion notices to other articles. We’re hoping that this will help alleviate future problems and make people more aware of what we consider notable. If you have any questions, please let us know.

    FanHistory is off to Dragon*Con!

    September 3rd, 2009

    Well, at least one of its representatives is :)

    I’m leaving today for Dragon*Con, where I’ll be all weekend working the Spacial Anomaly Gallery table in the Dealer’s Hall (location F13, if all goes according to plan.) You can also check out some of my artwork in the Art Show and Print Shop.

    I’ll try to post some updates throughout the weekend, though my perspective will be fairly limited during the day to a vendor’s point-of-view. Please feel free to stop by my table during the weekend if you are there, I’d love to say hi, sell you some goodies – and of course, talk about FanHistory!

    Top Ten for August 2009

    September 1st, 2009

    I felt so much guilt for missing July… and this month I’m really busy too. This is shorter than I would like as I’d like to have covered more areas… but I’m sitting on a nice pile of research I want to get analyzed for Monday.

    Most Popular Articles: August 2009

    1. Draco/Hermione
    2. Cassandra Clare
    3. FanDomination.Net
    4. Cassandra Claire’s Plagiarism
    5. Sakura Lemon_Fan-Fiction Archive
    6. Naruto
    7. Digimon
    8. FanFiction.Net
    9. Shotacon
    10. Harry Potter fan fiction

    Most Popular Fandom Articles: August 2009

    1. Naruto
    2. Digimon
    3. Twilight
    4. Mortal Instruments
    5. The Fast and the Furious
    6. Dragon Ball Z
    7. Prince of Tennis
    8. Harry Potter
    9. Supernatural
    10. Merlin

    Most Popular Keywords Landing on Fan History: August 2009

    1. fandomination
    2. restricted section
    3. naruto wiki
    4. freedom of speech fan fiction
    5. draco hermione
    6. shotacon
    7. michael jackson fan fiction
    8. cassandra claire
    9. draco and hermione
    10. michael jackson fanfiction

    Most Popular Internal Keywords Searches: August 2009

    1. racefail
    2. Shadow Crystal Sage
    3. aja
    4. lunaescence
    5. obama day
    6. sonic the hedgehog
    7. a team
    8. harry draco
    9. obama day movie
    10. sasuke

    Most Popular Fan History Referrers: August 2009

    1. community.livejournal.com
    2. animenewsnetwork.com
    3. mademan.com
    4. fanfiction.net
    5. tvtropes.com
    6. metafilter.com
    7. fanpop.com
    8. answers.yahoo.com
    9. twitter.com
    10. sidewinder.livejournal.com

    A handy-dandy guide on how NOT to conduct research on fandom.

    September 1st, 2009

    This post was written by Sidewinder and posted by Laura. If you are experiencing any problems accessing our blog, we apologize.

    Meet Ogi Ogas.

    A self-titled “cognitive neuroscientist and game show contestant”, Dr. Ogas has managed to cause a considerable wankstorm throughout LiveJournal media fandom. The kerfluffle primarily surrounds a survey he posted and promoted on LiveJournal, claiming to be studying “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Fan Fiction”. A full timeline of the details can be found in FanHistory’s article on Ogi, but for here, let me summarize where he went so wrong in fannish eyes. These mistakes should be noted by other researchers outside of fandom who may wish to “study” fen communities, if they want to have any chance of obtaining willing participants and useful information in their research.

    1. Don’t lie about your intents. In his publicly promoted FAQ about the survey, Dr. Ogas (and his associate, Dr. Sai Gaddam) did not note anywhere that the research was not being conducted for a “hard” scientific study, but instead for a sensationalistic-titled book already up for publication in 2010: “Rule 34: What Netporn Teaches Us About The Brain.”

    2. Don’t talk down to your potential study participants. In several comment threads in the discussion following the survey, Dr. Ogas’ attitude was seen as highly condescending towards members of the fannish community. The apparent lack of sincerity in his responses to being challenged did little except further anger and upset many who were perhaps originally willing to give him a chance.

    3. Have at least some basic knowledge about the community you wish to study. Making basic errors in understanding fandom norms, genres of fiction, and styles of interaction, as occurred repeatedly in this instance, do little to give a community any faith a researcher will represent them fairly. And with a community which is already very sensitive about misconceptions and misrepresentations of it in the mainstream media, this is a crucial factor. Dr. Ogas should have at least vetted his potential survey questions before a large group of fandom individuals before unleashing it in a public fashion.

    And as a side note/emphasis to this:

    4. Don’t just take the word of a few individuals when attempting to study a community. Apparently Ogas and Gaddam made some contact with fandom individuals a month before this survey was launched, but it was a very limited sampling. They did not appear to take any real time to read much of the already-published literature on fandom and fandom culture, nor explore the vast amounts of meta and historical information available on fandom on the internet – in places such as FanHistory, Fanlore, or elsewhere.

    Of course, in this situation it may not have mattered very much as the authors seem already preset in the hypothesis they want to prove instead of being interested in genuinely researching fandom. Another error in their judgment.

    5. Be aware of fandom’s sensitivity to certain topics and the appearance of privilege. 2009 has been the year that fandom has exploded with discussions of race, gender, sexuality, and ability privilege. A researcher should take the time to read up on events such as Race Fail 2009 and also the 2009 Warnings debate. Doing so will help them understand the importance of dealing with potentially triggering content carefully, as well as how not to appear cluelessly privileged.

    6. Don’t underestimate fandom’s ire if you piss it off. It took less than 48 hours from the posting of Dr. Ogas’ survey for the situation to explode into a full on metamob attack. Participants have been quick to screencap and record material before it could be deleted or changed by Dr. Ogas, as well as spreading the word to make sure others stay away from his “research project”. Some are discussing – or already have gone forward with – contacting Boston University, where Dr. Ogas is on staff, regarding the apparent problems in his research and potential violations of ethics.

    And, of course, some have also responded with true fannish humor and proving Rule 34 correct after all: by writing Ogas/Gaddam RPS fic.

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