Posts Tagged ‘barcamps’

I’m growing tired of Twitter

April 5th, 2009

It took me a while to get Twitter. And then I loved it. I really loved it. I followed so called power users. I watched other people’s Twitter grades and ranks with fascination. Then decided to experiment with Twitter. And through experimentation, I learned a lot about twitter.

I’ve also discovered that I’m tired of Twitter. I’m tired of people talking about the number of followers they have. I’m tired of services like Twitter Grader and Twitterholic. I’m tired of people talking up those numbers, and numbers like how many times you’ve been retweeted, and that your value on Twitter and the interest in following you is dependent upon that. None of this matters. Relationships matter. I’ve yet to see some one explain why having 3000 followers where you engage with 0.01% of your followers, post links and retweets gives value back. I’m tired of being what amounts to a recipient of tweet spam even as I engage in it myself because I want to appear in Twitter’s search engine, get more traffic and have a high rank on Twitter’s services because Social Media people think it gives value and I want to believe they know better than me.

I’m tired of always being on with Twitter. Social media is a performance art. You’re always out there, always selling yourself. If you forget that you don’t have personal relationships with the people that you’re interacting with, you might regret it. If you want to use Twitter to get traffic to your site, attract angel investors, catch the eyes of VC people, try to get a consulting gig, you can’t go off the reservation and babble about how you’re tired, cranky, depressed, broke, dealing with family issues. Your audience doesn’t have the relationship with you to stick with you for that and you look unprofessional. You get more leeway with a personal blog, a LiveJournal account, a FaceBook account. Twitter just is always on and if you’re an introvert, this can be hard to maintain. It is tiring. I’m tired of performing and worrying about my performance being off.

I’m tired of the idea that Twitter improves relationships and develops relationships. I’ve made a few good connections on Twitter. The ones I probably am most glad of are the ones with kaplak and wikihowl. They are ones I probably would not have made otherwise. But most people on Twitter are people I follow in other spaces like LiveJournal, LinkedIn, FaceBook, mailing lists, on their blogs and IRC, who I keep up with via phone calls, at BarCamps, via e-mail and IM services, through private messages on FaceBook. The relationships that I’ve developed on Twitter don’t always feel that deep and when my friends and acquaintances on other services use those services less and use Twitter more, my interest and ability to connect becomes harder because of space constraints and the noise level between their content. I really wish Twitter did what the implication was that it did. I really wish that I could go back to Twitter about 9 months ago. I really wish that as Twitter exists now, that I felt like I was getting more out of my relationships that use Twitter to facilitate them. They don’t. I’m tired of trying to make the effort while feeling like I should be getting something out of it. I’m tired of people following me for no apparent reason who never communicate with me. I’m tired of the idea that I should be getting more connected with people as I feel even less connected.

I’m tired of the hype. Biz Stone said on The Colbert Report that Twitter answered a need you didn’t know you had. That doesn’t necessarily say “Twitter is great and serves a useful need” so much as “Twitter was marketed brilliantly.” CNN talks about Twitter. FaceBook changed to look more like Twitter. News people talk about how Twitter will change how news is reported. Newspapers print Tweets. Twitter will change the world! Celebrities tweet from everywhere. Entertainment Tonight covers people who are tweeting while they are being interviewed. I get it. This is like MySpace about 2 years ago. (And we know where MySpace is going.) I kind of just want to be left alone in a world where I can use it with out everyone and their neighbor going on about how great it is. If we could get back to reporting the news instead of reporting on how people are sharing their news, I might be less tired.

I’m kind of hoping this is a phase and that I will feel better about it later. I really do like Twitter but certain parts of it are just tiring.

The 2.0 World, and its impact on fandom

February 4th, 2009

An interesting new on-line journal launched this month, Live 2.0, which focuses on the changing face of live entertainment: sports, music, theater, etc. The premier edition pointed out how, in our current technological age, so much of where entertainment consumers spend their money and how they spend their money has changed. Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police, is interviewed in a fascinating look into how the ‘record album’ (or these days more likely the compact disc) has become so inconsequential as compared to the live concert as far as a musician earning his keep. The concert promoter now trumps the record executive. As Copeland points out,

“The idea of a concert as a catalyst for selling a CD is bass-awkward now. You make a CD and go through all that hassle and give it away, as Madonna has done her deal with not Universal, but Live Nation, and as Prince gave away his album, and as Radiohead [has done]; it’s the other way around now.

Let’s just make a record so that people will like us and come to the show.”

The future for a musician is much more in finding a niche market, for the big, big names like U2 are much fewer and far between, and marketing must embrace not just advertising in a few music papers but the internet, television, radio, and even “making sure you get your tune onto Rock Band or Guitar Hero”.

Russ Stanley, VP of Ticket Service and Client Relations for the San Francisco Giants, is also interviewed and talks about how the team has stayed on top of current trends to successfully market the team and grow ticket sales. “Embrace creative ideas” and “Think Technology” are the first two points raised, showing how simply doing things as had been done in the past no longer works.

So what does any of this have to do with fandom? Well, think about it. For a very long time, one of the long-standing models of live, in-person fan interaction and communication was the convention. Fans would travel the state, the country, even the world to meet other fans in person to discuss their favorite books, movies, television series, or simply be able to spend a few days with people who shared their interests in parts of fandom, be it slash, fur, science fiction, etc. Beyond these conventions, many of these fans had few ways of interacting beyond letter- and/or fan-zine communications, fanclubs, and other mail-based activities. Conventions have thrived for most of a century, beginning (arguably?) with Philcon in 1936, with few alterations in their models for content, marketing, attendance, and organization.

And yet, I believe few today would argue with me that the convention as modeled in the past is dying. Hotel costs have skyrocketed, and many such facilities are no longer interested in the business of renting out all of their meeting rooms at a low rate for an entire weekend to a convention when they can fit in 3 or 4 shorter events, weddings, church groups, or what-have-you over the same amount of time, get large catering contracts and other extras out of the deal. The internet has made communicating with other fans of shared interests much simpler and faster, and possible from the comfort of one’s own living room. There’s no need to trek to MediaWest every year to buy the newest fanzines to get your fan-fiction or art fix; there are more stories than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime available on-line. Convention dealers face lower profits due to the availability of much genre merchandise on-line and often at discount prices via ebay, Amazon, and other large vendors. Many smaller, local conventions find themselves suffering and dying out, or at least facing dwindling attendance numbers where only the largest events that offer wide varieties of programming seem to thrive and continue, such as DragonCon or highly commercial events such as those put on by Creation Entertainment. Cosplay and gaming may continue to give members of those fandom interests reasons to continue attending live events, but they are but two parts of a wide spectrum of fandom interests.

So perhaps it is time for fandom to look towards other models of live interactions and events, such as the BarCamp. Much more interactively generated by “users” (ie, attendees), the BarCamp breaks with the more rigid convention model, can take place in a wider variety of venues (utilizing, say, university facilities or business spaces), and looks for corporate sponsorship to cover costs instead of asking for membership fees from attendees. BarCamps embrace Web 2.0 ideas and technology to stay on top of current trends instead of lagging behind them and clinging to outdated models of interaction. Anyone can start up a BarCamp, and without the high financial burdens or risks involved in even organizing a small convention where hotel blocks must be guaranteed, meeting rooms booked, other conventions attended in order to promote your event, or even guests contracted.

This is part of why I will be very interested in seeing how Camp Fandom comes together for this year, as a fandom-specific event taking place utilizing the BarCamp model. Will other fandom camps follow, perhaps specific to certain fandoms, genres and interests, just as conventions in the past did? It will be interesting to see.

What other impacts will the “2.0″ world we live in have on fandom, and how fans consume and interact with our canon sources, be it movies, television, music, sports, etc? These are interesting questions to consider, and I’d be curious to continue this discussion and see what others think. I think we’ve already seen the “niche” market affect media fandom in the sense that we are no longer a world where only Star Trek, Star Wars, and a few other large name fandoms rule fandom-generated content. There are “niche” fandoms for virtually everything these days, and communities for sharing works about them. Even within each individual fandom, like say Harry Potter, there are communities, mailing lists, and fanworks for every sub-interest imaginable: genficcer-only, slash and het pairings of all kinds, AUs, any kink imaginable…you name it. And those involved in large-scale fandom activities such as running multi-fandom archives, conventions, etc, need to be aware of the wide variety of users that are potentially out there beyond what they might be familiar with inside of their own niche, and decide who they wish to serve: only those within their special interest, or the ever-wider world of fandom out there today.

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