Archive for February, 2010

NBC Olympic coverage: Why it sucked

February 28th, 2010

At the start of the games, I complained about the coverage… and as the games end (and the USA is behind Canada in the game for ice hockey gold), it is time to complain again.  This is a crosspost based on a comment I made to another blog.

The coverage was awful. It could have been better had NBC used CNBC, MSNBC and USA more effectively to cover events. (But even those often had tape delays, or showed the second half of a two part event. Where was the ski jumping?)

It was made worse by the Pixar commercials in the middle of coverage. I get it. Pixar has a movie coming out about vikings and dragons… but after the third or forth time a commentator cut to the Pixar vision of generic Olympic event in viking times? I had enough of that. The second week had less of that, and instead involved promotion of another movie that the anchors didn’t plug as much.

They decided before the games who the athletes that we would care about were. They had video packages made. We got to see them again and again when ever they could think of a relevant reason to show those pre-packaged clips instead of actual sports. When unknown sports heroes arose, no one seemed to know how to cover those.

There were few options to watch events live on their website, except for the few that were being run live on their sister networks.

There were large moments of advertising Whistler and British Columbia… which would have been awesome, had they not felt like everything being aired by others trying to capitalize on the Olympic feeling.

Then we had moments of sexism, where commentators insisted on calling female athletes girls. We had moments of putting down and insulting Olympians because the commentators didn’t see their sport as a real sport. We had moments of homophobic behavior where commentators mocked Johnny Weir for what they considered his effeminate behavior. We had moments where blatant racism wasn’t called out with the Russians and their Aboriginal dance but still happily highlighting their lovely and interesting costumes.

It was a failure for the US and pretty embarrassing. It almost explains why the USOC screwed Chicago out of hosting 2016 in order to try to get their own network to cover the events.

Possible Fanfiction.net Hoax?

February 27th, 2010

I got an email in my Facebook inbox that right away I just had to click on. In fact, I was concerned because this means that in the past few days Fanfiction.net has been prey to a hacker sending out mails to various people. My thoughts were that this was a hoax and I hope the main administrators can do something about this, whether issue a response saying that this “James” person is indeed a mod at the site, or that he is not and a solution like fixing the problem that led to the site’s infiltration.

However, I could not let AngstGoddess003′s message go unheard and had to share it. Of course, this was done with her permission.

Hey, I am better known in the Twilight fandom as AngstGoddess003. Lately, all of us in the fandom have been receiving suspicious email replies and citations from someone named James at support@fanfiction.com. He is unable to prove the validity of his employment there, and often to replies to emails snarkily, and with some of the poorest English I have ever seen. He refers to sexual content as “smut” and his emails are usually so laughable that one wonders if he’s 12.

The IPs and email headers on these do not match up to previously received replies from fanfiction.com. Very suspicious stuff.

I’ve been investigating him, since people are giving out info to him through emails (sigh… I know.. not smart!), but you know how it goes when contacting FFn. All support emails go to him, which means he’s either a troll that’s hijacked the address, or is just a new, dumb ass employee. Either way, I’ve been in contact with former staffers who confirm that James’ emails are far from the protocol they’ve known. They personally believe him to be a troll, and can’t see FFNET allowing his behavior.

Sadly, emails sent to the other two addresses provided (reportabuse@fanfiction.com and categories@fanfiction.com) are going frustratingly unanswered. Of course, this is the FFn we all know and love.

BUT, no one can verify James’ place on the staff there, and if he is a fake, then he is somehow getting members’ personal contact information, which is quite worrying. And if he IS, in fact, a legitimate member of the FFNET staff, then I feel like we should have a superior or colleague to report his verbal abuse to, something he himself is completely unable or unwilling to provide to me.

The fact of the matter is, he is sending out hundreds of emails per day, and I can’t seem to officially confirm or debunk anything whatsoever. Hence, people are still talking to this man through support@fanfiction.com, and even possibly giving him information under the guise of keeping their stories live.

I want to get to the bottom of it, but am having some trouble reaching out to other fandoms to document their experiences with this person.

The first leg of my investigation can be found here: http://angstgoddess003.livejournal.com/26810.html

You can find me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/AngstGoddess003

I know you post often at a very popular blog (Fan History), and was wondering if you’ve heard anything of this sort from other fandoms, or could offer me any advice or information about past activity from support@fanfiction.com.

For the last month or so, James has been answering all questions sent there. I actually, no lie, got a response the other day within five minutes of sending an email. Unheard of, yes? It is all very weird. I’m just hoping someone there can tell us something. Any info or advice you could offer would be truly invaluable. Perhaps if you even knew of a way that I could reach out to other fandoms on a broader basis than singular LJ comm posting, lol. That’d be awesome.

Thanks for your time. Sorry for bothering you!

Highest Regards,
AngstGoddess003

What are your thoughts in this matter? Do you think it is a hoax?

Nick Simmons Plagiarism Fail

February 26th, 2010

Not surprising to see another celebrity’s child stir up legal troubles. This time it is Nick Simmons, son of the Kiss’s frontman Gene Simmons.

Who did Nick plagiarize? Fans were quick to point out the similarities between his graphic novel Incarnate and the well loved anime Bleach. Some of the pictures in the article Gene Simmons’ son Plagiarizing Bleach? by by karenai prove that this is no false accusation.

In fact, the anime fandom seems to be popping up with articles about this fiasco from LiveJournal and even DeviantART.

The similarities are so obvious. How did Radical Publishing fail to see this when Bleach is seen by millions every day. Radical’s response in regards to Incarnate on their Radical Publishing Official MySpace site‘s blog was:

We at Radical Publishing, Inc. and Radical Comics, Inc. are quite concerned to hear the news surrounding Nick Simmons’s Incarnate Comic Book. We are taking this matter seriously and making efforts now to contact the publishers of the works in question in an effort to resolve this matter. We have halted further production and distribution of the “Incarnate” comic book and trade paperback until the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Rest assured that Radical is taking swift action regarding this matter and will continue in its efforts to maintain the integrity and protect the intellectual property of artists throughout the world whose creative works are the bedrock of our Company and the comic book industry.

This is actually re-published from their Radical Publishing official site’s blog.

This is not good for any company and there is no need to ‘investigate allegations’. This should be pulled from the shelves as it is a blatant plagiarism.

But who knows, some celebrities and their children only walk away with minor wounds to lick.

What are your thoughts?

Fandom history then and now

February 25th, 2010

During 2006 and 2007, I had several conversations with people where I said that the model of fandom developed online from 1998 to 2006 was fundamentally dead.  The major changes for this involved shifting business strategies, strategies that required content creators to actively engage and develop their fan bases as they had never done before.  You couldn’t risk shutting down whole sites or categories on a site with a cease and desist letter. The impact would be negative and newsworthy.  Fans would rally to protest such actions if taken on any scale and the demographics of fan communities had changed so that content creators couldn’t assume that fans would do anything to avoid going to court.

To counter fannish usurpation of their branding, message and ability to market themselves, I predicted increased engagement as a form of control  Why use legalities to shut down conversation when you can channel the message, host the content, define the rules, use other forms of media to help define a fan community to better build your brand?  It was the logical business decision, and one that content creators have slowly adopted.

The net result of this shift includes an increased speed in terms of how fast fandom moves, a diffusion of power structure in fan based communities, breaking down barriers between creators and fans as each use each other for their own purposes, and an overall blurring of the lines between entertainment/general popular culture fans and more hard core fandom. At the same time, as business models change, technology and how people interact with it are changing.  Things that were once very hard to access are becoming more readily accessible.

There are just a lot of changes that are happening really, really fast.  It can and does often feel overwhelming.  (And then, today, Ozzie Guillen got on Twitter.)

There feel like a lot more choices in what to be fannish about.  Television for example is no longer limited in the United States to the major networks in order to get original programming.  It also isn’t limited to premium, pay extra for a station original programming for original dramatic and comedic television.  Increasingly, “cable” stations are creating their own original programming.  If a show is bumped from network television, some networks are picking these shows up.   Added to this confusion of more original programming, it is easier to access original content from other countries and countries that don’t speak English.  Consumers aren’t limited to expensive imports on VHS.  The prices have dropped and getting things on DVD is really easy.  BitTorrents are another option.  YouTube is another place to find that content.  It is easier to make friends with some one across the globe who might share their interests with others.  (I introduced an Australian friend to Kings.  Then, two days later, the announcement that the show was canceled hit.)  This wasn’t the case even five years ago.

Content producers are accessible like never before and they aren’t afraid to try to manipulate fans for various reasons.  Heck, there are currently several projects out there which seek to use fandom to crowdsource the funding of movies or crowdsource the writing of scripts.  Crowdsourcing is becoming more and more frequent.  It just doesn’t begin to compare to the engagement of content producers.  They will interact with fans on Twitter, create fan pages on Twitter, set up contests, solicit fans for ideas, comment on their own performance.   They have blogs.  they answer e-mails. They publicly thank fans for their support online and off, and have been known to name fans by name.  Gone are apparently the days of jms where content producers were afraid to engage fans like that.  People seeking book deals model that behavior to develop their own fan bases because a large fan base can help you get published as publishers know you have a built in audience.

The media is also increasingly engaging fans.  (Even as some are trying to disengage from companies like Google to better lock their content.)  They haven’t been as active in trying to get copyrighted material removed from fansites.  They engage with fans on Twitter, create Facebook fan pages, encourage people to comment, create official accounts on services like Buzz and Google Wave.  They will promote fansites, treating them as a normal part of the discourse involving a movie or show to the point where movie and television show and now used interchangeably with the term fandom.  The media distinction for media fandom between super fans and passive consumers of a product is eroding.  Media access to the power players, what the media has to say as a result of those connection has a greater impact on wider fandom than ever before because the information isn’t just consumed by hard core players who can act on it but an increasingly activist traditionally passive consumer base.  Knowledge gained from the media, easy access to power players on social media and media willing to give serious, non-demeaning attention to fan activism is a  new cycle that begets real results.  It makes it easier to participate in because the barriers are fewer and there are fewer barriers for passive consumer to become small time activists.

The acceptance of fandom, especially around anime, television, sports, video games, movie, theater and actors, has made it easier for fans to bring their friends and family into the community; spaces are harder to define as purely fannish, business or professional.  (Even content creators are breaking these barriers.  It isn’t just fans.)  It isn’t something you need to keep as in the closet as you once had to.  One of the results of this is that the size of fannish communities are exploding: A community that might once have had 500 people may now have 50,000 people.  As a consequence, personal interaction and the development of purely fannish relationships can be harder to make and we fall more into regional patterns again, where were assign greater value to the people online that we can and have met in person.  (It is like fandom during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.)  This can and does lead to a diffusion of fannish activity as people try to make their experiences manageable and not overwhelming while still maintaining that identity as part of a larger group.

When there is a larger group identity, it can be more powerful than it ever was before.  Fans can get together and run a fan run convention with budgets of a hundred thousand dollars.  Fans are networked enough so that they can raise large amounts of money for charity efforts when things that impact our greater society happen.   (Just look at how they responded to Haiti.)  The amount of money that fans are capable of raising in a short time period is like nothing that fans could do even four years ago.  They might have been able to raise $250,000 before but it might have taken them several years to accomplish that.  If their community has the right connections, it could just take a few days.

Scale and size and eroding boundaries boundaries between traditional components of fandom have fundamentally changed definitions of fandom. Things have been sped up.  The amount of communities is huge.  The amount of activity is insane and trying to quantify and qualify what type of activity that is has become increasingly difficult.

In short, we really need to begin to get a grasp on this and document it for the sake of fandom history.  On the other hand, this is just overwhelming in the extreme.  As a fan historian, who likes to document some things happening in the hear and now, it is discouraging.  There is just so much data that it is hard to process. I’m overwhelmed at how to document the then and document the now. I know what’s going on but all that’s going on makes it hard to find a starting point.

Help?

Help Wanted! Think Galacticon 2011 Needs You.

February 19th, 2010

I attended this convention in 2007.  It was really interesting and if you’re in the Chicago area, I’d urge you to attend.  They sent out the following e-mail that I thought I would share here as they need help:

This is a reminder that Think Galacticon needs volunteers, and your time for signing up is running out!

We were serious when we said Think Galacticon wouldn’t happen if we didn’t get enough volunteers. But although the February 15th deadline for joining the organizing committee has passed, we’ve extended it until the end of the month. We’re still short of the numbers we need to organize the con in a healthy way. If you want the con to happen and haven’t volunteered yet, please join! If you know someone who’d be a good concom member, spread the word! Our (actually) final deadline is Feb. 28th. If we don’t fill our core positions by that date we won’t be throwing a 3rd fabulous leftist SF/F weekend in Chicago.

We’re especially looking for people in Chicago, but wherever you are, we’d love your help. Let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll figure it out. Below are key positions we’re looking to fill:

Self-Care Assistant- Local
Venue Liaison – Local
Accommodations Liaison – Local
Registration Coordinator- Local
Volunteer Coordinator- Local
Events Coordinator- Local
Consuite Coordinator- Local
Publications Coordinator- Local
Programming Coordinator- Anywhere

Job descriptions and information on other open positions can be found here: http://community.livejournal.com/think_galactic/2010/01/14/. There are more jobs to take on than those above, but not filling the ones above will stop us from having a Think Galacticon in 2011.

If you’re interested, e-mail concom2011@thinkgalactic.org with the position you are interested in and whether you’re local to Chicago.

Thanks!

Fanfiction.net Fail – Ads

February 19th, 2010

Now, I am aware the fanfiction giant, Fanfiction.net needs funding. I also know it brings in quite a bit of money. However, I am just wondering if the site might actually grow up and out of their table phase and more into Web 2.0 where they could offer better advertising.

Better advertising by which means ads that do not interfere with the scrolling of the site and ads that totally direct people off of the site. This happens way too often. There has to be a better way for Fanfiction.net to integrate a better advertising system.

Their advertising system is a complaint I have heard over the last decade other than extreme adult material on the site that still remains even though they have policies toward such material. I think most people can deal with the primitive design, but the advertising is an annoyance. Where some fanfiction and fandom sites are upgrading into 2.0 and climbing in rank and traffic, Fanfiction.net has stayed the same for the last six months, according to Alexa.

So even if Fanfiction.net never changes their normal system, at least fix what system is currently installed. It is a total fail unless the point was to totally push users onto their advertisers’ sites.

X-Box fans: xbox.answers.wikia.com needs your help

February 17th, 2010

An acquaintance in #wikia (yes, I’m back hanging out there. I have a confusing relationship with the site) asked me to plug xbox.answers.wikia.com.  It is a relatively new Wikia answers site for help you need.  If you have questions about the X-Box, ask them there.  If you can help answer questions, please help edit.  The wiki is also recruiting new admins so if you have wiki adminning experience and are looking for a new project, it is also worth checking out.

USA (NBC)’s Olympics curling coverage

February 16th, 2010

Yesterday, we got Olympics at one CST on NBC.  Today, we got USA at 11 with curling.  (It continued on with hockey.)  NBC kicks in at 3pm with speed skating.

Curling coverage is about what I wanted: The game, the game and the game.  They didn’t cut away to give me Pixar commercials (no how curling would have been during the Viking age), no player profiles that last five minutes and rerun repeatedly.  NBC/USA could have given us a bit more with what was going on in the other three lanes but that’s okay.  I’d still prefer the US obsession while covering the damned sport mostly uninterrupted to what we’ve had so far.

Now I have to make the choice of hockey (love) or speed skating and other Olympic sports that I feel NBC will botch in covering.

NBC’s Olympic coverage is ruining my Olympic spirit

February 15th, 2010

I love sports and I love the Olympics.  I sack out in front of the television and watch them.  The summer games were at times fantastic because there were sometimes up to four channels with coverage.  Yes, tape delayed to bring the best stuff in prime time was annoying… but at least I had options to watch events that NBC wasn’t as concerned about ratings wise.

Cut to the Winter Games.  I want to watch something that I know is on live.  No dice.  There isn’t wall to wall Olympic sporting events.  Suck.  It is Presidents Day and CNBC isn’t covering business news because the markets in the US are closed.  Did we get anything there?  Nope.  We got a few hours from noon to about three pm on NBC.  Nothing on any of NBC’s other channels.  Zippo.  On a day when markets are closed.  It is depressing.  What we get in primetime is tape delayed events that NBC is happy to spoil for me with poor timing with Tom Brokaw.  (He didn’t say you could turn your head back to the screen.  Instead, he started talking about the Chinese pair’s figure skating while NBC left medal info on the screen.)

The major events that we get involve Americans where we think that they will perform better than any other Americans have before or where we think that they have medal chances.  We don’t get profiles of athletes outside of Americans.  …  Unless they are figure skaters.  I’ve yet to see curling on screen.  I didn’t get to watch an American women hockey game.

Just fail fail fail.  NBC is ruining my experience as a fan who wants to watch games on television or through streaming media. If you didn’t want to broadcast the games NBC, you should have figured out how to get out of your deal.  How you handled it (and the Leno situation) sucks.

katsucon convention reports

February 15th, 2010

We’re trying to compile a list of convention reports for fandomnews and Fan History’s katsucon article.  If you have links, please feel free to edit the article or comment on this post so we can add them in.  The convention reports we’ve found so far include:

ProjectWonderful wonderfulness

February 5th, 2010

I feel like most of my recent posts have been bitter and angry.  (Which alas, my reaction to money problems and other people.)  I do have some rather cool news.  We’ve been using ProjectWonderful for a while.  We did bigger ads when we opted out of Amazon.com and got ToSed again from Google Ads.  They’ve made their advertising potentially more profitable for fansites.  How?  By geotargetting their ads.  Advertisers can buy ads for the US, Canada, Europe and everyone else.  That means instead of one potential income stream from one ad, you have four.  And advertisers win because they can better target their market.

It makes me happy.

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