Geocities vs. Bebo preservation efforts

April 9th, 2010 by Laura Leave a reply »

bebo may be closing.  … or it might not if AOL can find a buyer for bebo.  bebo has (or had) a strong fandom presence.  Some groups have over 10,000 members.  Some videos have had over 30,000 views.  People engaged in various types of fanac on the network.  On bebo, the fanac may have been more discussion based and vidding based than Geocities.  Geocities had essays and picture and sound galleries.  Geocities was also the home to huge amounts of fan fiction dating back to the mid-1990s.  bebo’s community was much more about interaction with others.  Geocities’s community was more about content providing.  (Both had some truly awful levels of design.)

The distinction of what amounts to interactive versus static content makes bebo preservation difficult.  There just doesn’t feel like much worth saving on bebo.  Do we want to save fan fiction on bebo?  No, not particularly as it really isn’t there.  (People linked to their fan fiction hosted elsewhere.)  Was bebo viewed as fundamental to fannish interaction at any time?  No, not particularly except maybe in pockets of Irish and British fandom or sports fandom.

Given the lack of useful content actually preserve, how do we approach that?  The way that I’m looking at is this: We’re looking to define the size and scope of the fandom.  How many people were in particular fandoms?  What tools on bebo did people use to express their fannish interest?  When were these communities active?  What did their group pages look like?  This information can be manually mined and put into a database.  It can also be attained by screencapping search results, profile pages, band pages, video pages and app pages.  Once capped and uploaded, people can look through it, talk with others and begin to get an idea as to how the community function.  That’s the goal: Get enough capped and put into a useful dataset so people at a later date can use that data to explain how the fannish community worked.

And that’s really the difference between Fan History’s efforts: Content preservation and confirmation that existed versus providing insight into how a community functioned.

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