Posts Tagged ‘Fandom’

ning preservation efforts on Fan History Wiki

April 17th, 2010

ning is shutting down its free communities at some point soon.  This move was announced after ning also announced they were laying off 42% of their staff.  Like bebo, there isn’t necessarily many historical artifacts on the service.  Also like bebo, one of the major communities that appears to be there is the fanvid one. A lot of what needs to be preserved includes pages that begin to demonstrate the size, scope and activity type of the community.

We don’t particularly have much time to do that on Fan History.  (And with our staff going away, having family issues, going back to school and work issues… we’re even more crunched.)  So like bebo, our focus will be on screencapping a select number of pages, uploading them and putting them into categories for later historical work.  Our goal is to cap and upload around 100 to 200 pages.  This is about on par with our bebo efforts.  (Though our bebo efforts have a lot more data stored in various databases as  I’ve been collecting it longer related to another project.)

If you’d like to help us screencap and upload, we would really appreciate the help.  If you would like to help us out by adding descriptions and integrating information about this network on to appropriate articles, that would be even more appreciated.  One of the struggles of Fan History is realizing we can’t preserve everything… but that we can still try preserve enough to help people understand what was happening.

fandomnews link list

March 7th, 2010

When fandomnews first started, we probably checked 30 rss feeds a day.  Now we check close to 150.  The goal is to check a broad variety of fandom discussion sites to present links that offer a panfannish idea of what is being talked about.  We try to include links from comics, music, sports, television, movie, manga, anime, cartoons and furry fandom.  Given that, we thought you might find it interesting to see the feeds we check regularly.  If there are some feeds you think we should be checking but don’t, drop a comment and we’ll add it to our list.

  • “fandom history” – Google Blog Search
  • “It is What it is”: Fandom, Pop Culture, and Then Some
  • “race!fail” – Google Blog Search
  • “race!fail” site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • :: netwoman’s blog ::
  • Access Fandom
  • Airlock Alpha
  • Angry Who Fan
  • Anime Loveu
  • Animology
  • Anti-Oppression Linkspam Community
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender Meta
  • BELOW THE BELT
  • Bibliophile Stalker
  • captain america teabaggers – Google Blog Search
  • Christy’s Corner of the Universe
  • Comic Book Fanthropology
  • Confessions of an Aca/Fan
  • Convention Scene
  • Cult Academic
  • Cupid’s Bow
  • Delicious/hedgebird/meta
  • Delicious/inteligrrl/meta
  • Delicious/Kuiskata/meta
  • Delicious/metafandom
  • Delicious/moonling/meta
  • Delicious/natlyn/meta
  • Delicious/poppy_fan/metafandom
  • Delicious/sheera.duerigen/meta
  • Delicious/tag/metafandom
  • Delicious/ts_newsletter/MetaAndDiscussions
  • Delicious/veronicasowell/metafandom
  • Don’t call me ‘bitch’.
  • Erin’s Research
  • Escaping the Trunk
  • Exfanding Your Horizons
  • Fan Essays: By Fans for Fans.
  • Fan Girl
  • FanaticSpace
  • fandom – Google News
  • fandom deviantart com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom incest – Google Blog Search
  • fandom meta – Google Blog Search
  • fandom research – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:journalfen.net – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:livejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom -site:livejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom stats – Google Blog Search
  • fanfic “Mary Sue” site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fanfic discussion site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • Fangasm!
  • Fangirl Saves the World
  • FANS AGAINST THE RACEBENDING OF “THE LAST AIRBENDER”
  • Fauna Urbana
  • Final Fantasy Noticeboard
  • FWD/Forward» media and pop culture
  • FWD/Forward» television
  • Get your meta on!
  • girls make media
  • Heavy Meta Poisoning
  • House Fanfic Recs and the Housefic Meta Library
  • hypebot
  • Icerocket blog search: fandom misogyny
  • Icerocket blog search: fandom racism
  • Icerocket blog search: fanthropology
  • Icerocket blog search: meta fandom
  • Icerocket blog search: meta fanfic
  • Icerocket blog search: metafandom
  • It’s A Dan’s World
  • Kazza1988′s Blog
  • Manga Xanadu
  • Media Fen
  • Media Production Student Stuff
  • Memorias de una Escriba
  • Meta Roundup
  • meta site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • meta site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • meta site:journalfen.net – Google Blog Search
  • Meta Writer
  • metafandom site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • MetaFans
  • MyVampFiction
  • MyVampFiction» State of the Fandom with Sarahbella
  • Nine Inch Nerds
  • Nothing In This Community Constitutes Legal Advice
  • NWSFS
  • oppression site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • Partial Recall
  • Personal S.A.
  • Peter Pan Meta
  • Pokemon. Every day.
  • Rabid fangirls and fanboys suck
  • Racebending.com
  • racism site:journalfen.net – Google Blog Search
  • Research blog, Fantasy, Fandom and Franchise
  • Research Wrap
  • Robot Pilipinas
  • Screenology
  • Sf-Fandom’s WordPress Blog
  • Supernatural Feminist Fans
  • Tell me your thoughts on . . .
  • That’s What She Said! – An Office Meta Community
  • The Crotchety Old Fan
  • The Daily Snitch
  • The Diary of a Music Addict
  • The Fandom Blog – Agri Sublunares
  • The Hooded Utilitarian
  • The Learned Fangirl
  • The Smallville fandom newsletter
  • The Sunnydale Herald
  • Tin Man Meta
  • TrekToday» Fandom
  • TS Talk
  • Twohundredpercent» Football Culture
  • Unspoken» Fannish Life
  • Unspoken» Meta
  • vidding site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • vidding site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • WALL*E Meta Community
  • Wet Asphalt
  • whedonverse links roundup
  • When Fangirls Attack
  • Women in Games
  • Women Talk Sports | Latest News and Blog Posts
  • WomenGamers.com Site News
  • 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?

    sidewinder’s picks: The Top 10 Fannish Events of 2009

    December 21st, 2009

    In the spirit of the season, I decided to look back on 2009 and reflect on what I saw as the Top 10 fannish news stories, events, and kerfluffles of the past year. These are just my picks–what news stories and events did you think were the biggest? I’d be curious to hear other opinions and reflections from different corners of fandom.

    10. The 2009 Warnings Debate. Warning debates seem to rise up every year, but the 2009 one was a real doozy. Taking place after a bandom story was posted without warnings, the debate quickly spread through LiveJournal media fandom as everyone took sides on the issue–and a few BNFs found themselves on the “wrong” side of the debate. Still, the debate brought serious discussion of triggers to the forefront, and I have noticed more people being sensitive to the use of–or warning for their lack of use of–warnings on their fic, as well as on general journal postings since then.

    9. Dreamwidth Studios launches. After much discussion and anticipation in some circles for months, Dreamwidth Studios finally opened to the public in May of 2009. Initially there was a huge frenzy of support and excitement, with some members of media fandom abandoning (or having already abandoned after getting beta accounts) their LiveJournals for this new service. There was a fair-sized backlash against DW as well, with others content to stay where they were, annoyed by the fracturing of their reading lists and doubtful that fandom would pack up en masse to move to this new service. Time has proven the doubters, perhaps, to be correct. Recently some DW users have been posting about moving back to LJ as the community on DW had not taken off as they had hoped it would, and their corners of fandom are still largely staying where they were on LJ.

    8. SurveyFail. Rarely has a metamob so quickly and so effectively shut a person down than when fandom went after “researcher” (and reality-tv “celebrity”) Ogi Ogas. Fandom doesn’t like to be conned or tricked, especially when it comes to media representations of slash fiction fans and writers. SurveyFail was a prime example of this.

    7. The Eli Roth saga of doom. Celebrities are increasingly breaking the fourth wall with their fandoms in this internet age, and services like Twitter make that easier than ever to do. But this isn’t always a good thing, as Eli Roth proved when he started interacting with members of the gossip community ohnotheydidnt. Joking about slash fiction featuring his characters and posting pictures of him eating blueberries morphed one night into women (some potentially underage) sending him topless pictures of themselves and engaging in cybersex via MySpace. The incident sent ONTD into a tailspin of wank and lead many to wonder just how far is too far to go when fandom and celebrities mix on-line.

    6. Jon and Kate divorce. The reality series Jon and Kate Plus 8 has been a mainstay of sites such as ONTD and the gossip magazines since the series first aired. Spurring lots of fan sites (as well as anti-fan sites), as the couple’s relationship hit the rocks this year, discussion and interest about them exploded on the internet. Here on FanHistory we saw a peak in traffic to our page about the show in August, as this news was breaking.

    5. Russet Noon and LadySybilla. Never before in fandom history–and probably never again–had FanHistory, Fandom_wank, and Lee Goldberg found themselves on the same side of the fence: recording the history of (and mocking) a Twilight fan’s attempt to profit off a fan-written novel based in the Twilight universe. This massive kerfluffle exploded as the author, LadySybilla, targeted her critics in kind.

    4. The Philadelphia Eagles sign Michael Vick. Despite having a baseball team make it to the World Series two years in a row, Philadelphia is still a football town, first and foremost. And the announcement that Michael Vick would be added to the team’s roster this season was a news story that rocked the city and outraged many fans. It was an especially difficult pill to swallow after the loss of fan favorite player, Brian Dawkins. The debate ran for months–and still continues today, even as the team heads to the playoffs: Should Vick really have been given a second chance? What are fans to do if they love a team, yet have strong moral objections to a player on it? Some sold their tickets for the season in protest; others came around to accepting Vick later in the year. Others still just wait and hope he will be traded away next season so they can go back to rooting for their team without guilt.

    3. Star Trek, Rebooted. The release of the new Star Trek film this year managed to revitalize the fandom in a way that surprised and delighted many. Fans of the original series who were initially skeptical by and large embraced the film. The fandom exploded on LiveJournal, producing a huge array of fanworks in a short span of time. However, there was some wank and shipping wars to develop, largely between Kirk/Spock shippers and Spock/Uhura shippers. How this will continue as the new movie franchise moves on will be interesting to see.

    2. Michael Jackson‘s death. It was the news story that nearly took down the internet: Michael Jackson, dead at 50. Many websites and social networking services temporarily crashed or were overloaded as people flocked on-line for news and updates. His passing lead many to reconsider the popstar’s life and works, fueling renewed debates over his behavior and legal troubles. It also lead to the formation of numerous new messageboards, communities, and websites devoted to him, and a blossoming interest in Michael Jackson fan-fiction.

    1. Race Fail 2009. Unquestionably, RaceFail was THE fandom story (and debate) of the year. Beginning in January over a book by Elizabeth Bear, the situation exploded and raged heavily through science fiction and media fandom for months. Indeed, it would be easy to say that 2009 was basically a Year of Fail, as I speculated back in July in a previous blog post. Increased awareness of race, gender and ability privilege have been promoted again and again as failings have been pointed out, both in commercial media such as books and films and in our own fannish interactions with each other.

    So what does that say for the year ahead? How will 2010 go down in the fannish history books? Guess we’ll have to wait until next December to find out.

    Review: Chris Campion’s “Walking on the Moon: The Untold Story of the Police and the Rise of New Wave Rock”

    December 17th, 2009

    Review by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

    As a die-hard fan of The Police, I was looking forward to reading this recently-published book about the band.

    Unfortunately, Chris Campion’s Walking on the Moon: The Untold Story of the Police and the Rise of New Wave Rock is, quite simply, the most negatively-toned rock “biography” – and I use that term very lightly in this case – I can recall ever reading. While there is some interesting information contained within its 300 pages, each of those pages is so thoroughly laced with such glaring disdain on the author’s part for his subject matter, one is left truly puzzled over what motivated him to write the book in the first place. Is it pure sour grapes over the success of a band whose music he clearly dislikes, a band whose popularity he can’t understand unless dismissed away as the result of clever, aggressive marketing and the political climate of the time? Is it just a cheap shot at trying to cash in on the band’s name before buzz over their reunion tour fades away?

    I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that Campion has put considerable time into researching his subject, if only to make sure there is no negative comment ever made about the band or its members, nor any questionable or scandalous incident about them, that he misses including.

    The negativity starts subtly, but begins to creep in through even the simplest word choices used to describe the band members, their associates and their actions. Andy Summers “fumes”, “whines” and “sneers” throughout the book, painted by Campion as an intensely bitter man of questionable skill as a guitarist, clinging desperately to The Police as his last chance at stardom after failing to make it earlier in his career. Stewart Copeland is portrayed as a spoiled youngest child, an immature “frat boy” type, a pothead whose drumming is only referred to by Campion when he can bring up criticisms of Copeland’s time-keeping. Sting is a cruel egotist who Campion spends considerable effort trying to psychoanalyze, repeatedly referring to his Catholic upbringing and mother’s infidelity as the root of his many problems. Miles Copeland III is focused on nearly much as the band members themselves, illustrated as the ruthless force behind their success through his promotion and marketing schemes – even as all of his problems with other acts and artists (and later the Police themselves) are thoroughly detailed. The only one who gets off relatively unscathed is Ian Copeland, “the only good one of the bunch”, supposedly. Oh, and of course any of the band or Miles’ associates through the years who were interviewed directly by Campion so that they could air their personal grievances, including Cherry Vanilla, Jayne Country, Nigel and Chis Gray, and members of the band Squeeze.

    Those looking for any real analysis of the band’s music? Look elsewhere. Campion has little interest in doing so beyond taking shots at Sting’s lyric writing and discussing the struggles they had in the studio, recording. Those hoping for good details on the three band members’ post-Police careers? Not to be found here. Sting is given the greatest focus, but mostly so he can be taken to task for everything including his poor acting, profiting off of black music and musicians, his dubious charitable causes and also his financial and personal relationship woes. Stewart is mostly dismissed except for Campion going into great detail over criticism of Copeland’s opera “Holy Blood and Crescent Moon”. Andy’s solo years barely merit two pages of coverage, primarily devoted to Campion mocking his photography as “little more than nicely-composed snapshots printed in black and white to give them a semblance of artsiness.”

    The band’s reunion tour is briefly covered in the last chapter, primarily rehashing details well-covered in the press already and here used to further Campion’s argument that the band had no real impact on music except as an extreme marketing success story. He repeats much of his earlier criticism of the entire new wave movement, which has been almost as central a subject of the book as the band it’s advertised as being about. What he seems completely unaware of – or chooses not to acknowledge – is the lasting influence the band’s music has had on generations of musicians who have followed them. The Police made solid pop-rock music that was well-crafted and featured musicianship that was inspired, and inspiring. Whether they were as groundbreaking or revolutionary as The Beatles or Elvis Presley is not and should not be the question, nor the only meter by which their merit as musicians should be measured.

    Looking through the notes and sources at the end of the book leaves the impression that Campion was quite thorough in his research, as previously noted. But he was also careless and sloppy. He makes numerous small mistakes that devoted Police fans are sure to pick up on, and it leads one to cast doubt on the veracity of all matters presented in the book as a result. For example, he gives the wrong date for the band’s final concert of the reunion tour at Madison Square Garden (August 9, 2008 when in fact it was August 7, 2008). He also claims they came out on stage in Police uniforms for the show, which was untrue; Sting donned a Police hat at the beginning of the show but that was it. He makes mistakes about which songs were cut from the second leg of the reunion tour and which ones were added. All minor details, yes, but it adds up to contribute to this reader’s poor impression of the work as a whole.

    He devotes little effort to covering the fandom for the band, except again where he can potentially derive the most scandal and shock value from it. For instance, he devotes a page to the “bizarre” phenomenon of “slash fiction” about the band, misrepresenting bandfiction‘s roots and showing his lack of understanding of the genre and its motivations as being something undertaken by “female groupies”. That said, he does seem rather taken by the work of FanHistory’s own administrator, sidewinder, describing her fiction as “extraordinary” (in fact it seems to be one of the few things in the entire book he has any positive words for!) The only other times he talks about the fandom at all is when he can bring up kerfluffles and incidents such as Stewart’s infamous “Disaster Gig” blog post, and an incident involving a Police website set up by Miles Copeland that was accused of cheating money out of fans until the problem was addressed by Stewart and Andy. Perhaps given how little Campion seems to understand about the band’s popularity, it would have done him some good to actually interview some fans of the band to get their perspective, instead of trying to force his theories and hypothoses onto them.

    Which in the end is all a shame, as a good book thoroughly covering the band’s complete history without an obvious agenda and bias would be much appreciated. This book simply isn’t it. One is much better off reading the respective autobiographies of each of the band members, and looking to find the truth somewhere in the middle of their individual recollections and points-of-view.

    Possible Movie in the Future for The Mortal Instruments Series

    August 28th, 2009

    Less than a week ago, Cassandra Clare announced to her adoring fans on her LiveJournal blog, that The Mortal Instrument books could be on the big screen soon. Well, the rights have been taken up by Bob Shaye film line called Unique Features. As Casssandra pointed out:

    Now, a book series being optioned doesn’t mean a film is being made right now or is definitely going to be made at all — it means that the studio or production company in question is developing the books as a film project — right now they’ve nailed down financing and a screenwriter (I don’t know who that is yet) and are working towards the next stages in the development project. It is, however, an important step in the movie-making process, so I feel like it’s okay to be excited about it.

    Cassandra also reiterates this information in the FAQ section for The Mortal Instruments website.

    Despite Cassandra Claire’s controversial past, as documented by FanHistory, she had proved resilient and cleaned up her act. With all the fan support and perseverance – to get to this point is a great feat.

    Here are some links to some fan reactions:
    WHOOOOHOOOOO!!!!
    Harry Potter Fanfic Writer Gets Movie
    Just a mundane – ‘an appreciation community for the Mortal Instrument series’
    Re: Movies That are Going to Suck: Part Deux

    Of course, there are some mixed reactions already towards the idea of a movie, but obviously there needs to be some huge congratulations sent out to Cassandra!

    Torchwood post-Children of Earth

    July 11th, 2009

    Torchwood fandom appears to be reeling after the conclusion of “Children of Earth”, the five-part storyline which made up the series’ third-season. Some viewers appear to appreciate the adultness of the storytelling and the writing quality of these episodes, saying it’s been a definite step-up from earlier seasons. However, many are outraged by the (apparently genuine, not-to-return) death of fan-favorite character Ianto Jones, particularly those involved in one of the primary ships of the series, Jack/Ianto (or “Janto” as it is sometimes known.)

    Many Janto fans feel betrayed after being promised more development of the relationship, which had already become canon. They feel that Russel T. Davies has placed shock-value higher than fans’ emotional investment in the series’ characters in pursuing this storyline. I personally stopped watching Torchwood regularly during the second season when it became clear that killing off any of the main characters was going to be fair game–and quite likely to continue. Owen Harper and Toshiko Sato were already main character victims, and with their deaths I also found my interest in watching the series gone. Not to say that I don’t value grittiness in my fictional viewing and reading, and can understand how a character death can sometimes be necessary to move a story along or benefit a piece of fiction artistically. But for many of us who are avid in our fandoms, we become very attached to our characters, favorite relationships, and pairings. Killing off a major character can be a huge risk for TPTB to take, as it can alienate viewers–and not just any viewers but the ones most likely to buy related merchandise for a fandom, attend conventions to see related guests, and generate lots of internet buzz for a show. It can cause them to not just stop watching a show any longer, but it can cause them to lose interest in being any part of a fandom, period.

    I’m not sure what the motivation behind killing Ianto could have been (other than shocking the viewer, as already mentioned). A fourth season of the show was questionable at best already. Why kill off a beloved character when there is no need to necessarily close off that door? (An actor wanting to leave a continuing series is one thing, but I’ve heard no mention of Gareth David-Lloyd wanting out.) Now I suspect Torchwood fandom will be wanking for months to come over the events of these episodes. Will the production of fan-fiction now increase, with people writing reaction fics, or AU fics negating the death? Or will fic production (as well as other fannish creativity and support) drop off, with fans now disgusted and lacking inspiration to continue with their storylines? Will the fandom suffer and die instead of thrive in the long run, or will it continue along, perhaps increasing if/when there is a new series produced and new characters introduced to fill the void left now? Only time will tell, but it seems a very risky move for the show to have taken.

    A funny thing happened on the way to my birthday…

    May 18th, 2009

    …ten years ago today.

    I went to see The Phantom Menace.

    (OK, technically it was a midnight showing on May 19, the official release date, but you get the idea.)

    I hadn’t been planning on going. At least not to a midnight show. While I was a Star Wars fan like any child of the 80s, I’m very allergic to hype, and the massive frenzy around the release of the new film had pretty much left me feeling “meh”. I’d see it when I could, but I wasn’t going to stand in line for hours or days to do so.

    But it was my birthday, and I was kind of…depressed. 27 and with nothing planned, no one to spend the day with, grad school was sucking the life out of me and I seem to recall even the weather was shitty. I was running some errands and walked by the old, decrepit-but-beloved Sam Eric theater on Chestnut Street around 3-4pm that afternoon. The marquee proclaimed a midnight showing of the film that night.

    “Gotta be sold out, but what the hell,” I thought, and being curious I checked if they had any tickets available. Surprisingly, they did – and no line waiting was necessary.

    Score!

    I went back home, nursed my morose mood for a few more hours, then went to check out the movie.

    Thus began one crazy, crazy chapter in my life.

    Now, I’d been involved in “fandom” for a long time by this point (music, tv, what-have-you), but not any kind of fandom in the mega-spotlight. Obscure and weird loves have always been my game, things like The A-Team. Even when I got into big fandoms like Xena, it was on the strange side of the spectrum (Joxer fandom, to be precise. Joxer slash fandom to be even more so. Oh the shame…) Small fandoms. Quiet fandoms. Manageable fandoms.

    Then I saw that scene. The one near the end. Qui-Gon’s death scene. Up until that point I’d been happily reveling in just the pretty special effects and grimacing through the typical Star Wars stiff acting and cringe-worthy dialog.

    But then Qui-Gon touched Obi-Wan’s face and died and ugh there was my tragic, epic love story for the ages. As Keelywolfe put it so eloquently,

    “A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away, George Lucas created Star Wars. And he looked at it and saw that it was good. And all was right in the world. But then, we saw that Obi-Wan doth look upon Qui-Gon with lust, and that Mr. Lucas was not likely to include that in the next movie, so we said screw it and wrote it ourselves, even though we do not make any money off of this. And all was right with the world.”

    obihatesani12

    I immediately rushed home and posted on, of all places joxerotica, virtually screaming “OMGWTFDIDYOUGUYSSEETHATISTHERESLASHYETOMGOMG!!!!” And a few others there went “OMGOMGOMG!!!!” too, and the very next day, I did a very silly thing.

    I created Master and Apprentice over on dear old yahoogroups. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

    Foolish me, I thought it would be a lot like running Joxerotica, or my A-Team groups–some work but nothing too daunting. People started joining up quickly but I figured it was just an initial frenzy after the movie’s release. I set up a little archive on my simplenet web account, manually adding stories as they were posted. It was maybe a couple a day at first. Fun, short stuff–angst pieces and missing scenes, short AU’s to “fix” Qui-Gon’s death, that sort of thing. I had a co-mod from Joxerotica helping me out at first as we set up the archive/list’s basic rules. But then it started growing. And growing. And growing, until it became within a month or two The Fandom That Ate Cincinatti. Slashfen were flocking in from everywhere: Sentinel fandom, Highlander fandom, X-Files fandom. People were even bitching how Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan was “stealing” all the good writers from other fandoms!

    It should be noted, too, that there was no small amount of concern about “The Wrath of Lucas” when I started the list and archive. While it may seem laughable today, at the time many fen still remembered his previous actions and stance against those who wrote and published adult–nevermind slash–fiction in the Star Wars universe. And also, there were other fen who would react strongly against those who would do so against George’s wishes, as I would learn firsthand from some of the people I would meet in this fandom such as Bev Lorenstein, who would become one of my dearest friends, and who told me what she went through in publishing Organia in 1982. That said, in my years of involvement in Star Wars fandom, I never received a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilms or had any other contact from them. So perhaps the worries were all for naught…

    In any event, by the end of the summer of ’99 I was growing concerned that my little archive just wasn’t going to cut it as a few stories a day were turning into dozens. It was reaching a critical point and I was getting worried about the stability of my archive situation, and my friend Erik came up with a solution.

    He could put me up on his own webserver. Register a domain for me–sockiipress.org–and then set up a database program which, although stories would still need to be manually submitted, would make creating story index pages automated, along with allowing for search functions and other cool stuff. sockiipress.org was registered on September 30, 1999 and the archive moved there, which would be its home for the next three years or so, before the archive moved to its own URL, masterapprentice.org, some time after I had left the fandom for good.

    But before I get to that part of the story…

    Being involved in this fandom from its point of creation through the height of the frenzy was, as I said earlier, a crazy experience. I’d never been involved in such an active fandom before. Never found myself in the Big Name Fan spotlight (though I was no real writer of note in the fandom, just archivist, occasional artist, and “ringleader”, in effect). Was it exciting? Sure! I loved waking up every morning to a emailbox full of new stories. And there was some wonderful fiction being written by some amazing authors. Was the attention thrilling as well? Admittedly, yeah, it was. I went from being the girl into very weird things at conventions like MediaWest and Eclecticon, largely lurking on the sidelines and being ignored, to getting a round of applause at ConneXions in 2000 for the work I’d done on the mailing list and archive. It was an ego boost for certain–but then it also gave me a taste of big fandoms’ ugly side as well, and how fandom can turn on you on the drop of a dime.

    First there were scuffles on allowable content. The first one came up over the topic of Chan fic. I lost my co-moderator to the mailing list over this debate and the compromise position on the subject I favored. Real person fic also was broached and lead to some heated arguments until it was banned from archiving. The fandom went through typical growing pains as different subjects and content was being explored, but then our archive was having growing pains, too. Erik’s server was not all that stable, leading to sporadic downtime and a lot of headaches on his end. He put up with a lot helping me out with the site, for someone who wasn’t even in the fandom. At one point, in 2000, he thought it would be a nice idea to burn CD copies of the archive to make available to users through the mailing list. It was welcomed as a good “backup” to the unstable site, and he charged a nominal fee to cover his materials and time — I think it was $7 or so. No one raised a single complaint the first time around with this, and I think he mailed off something like 100-200 copies of the disk.

    In 2001, the server difficulties were getting worse. Erik was getting frustrated, and I, myself, was getting a little worn out from listmom and archiving duties. While at this point we had a group of 5-6 assistant archivists, it was still demanding a lot of my time, and my interest in the Qui/Obi was…drifting. By that point I had been distracted by some other Bright Shiny Fandoms — Brimstone in particular. Erik decided to do a second run of the archive disks, at $10, because he was about ready to give up trying to work out a solution for our hosting woes.

    That’s when things got ugly. One morning I woke up to several outraged emails from authors who had long been absent from the fandom, demanding that their stories be removed from the archive, not included on the CD, “or else”. Later that day I found out Erik and I were being subjected to ugly accusations of profiting off people’s work, that outrageous things were being said about us all over fandom chat channels (one reason I still avoid “chat” to this day). We defended ourselves and actions while of course agreeing to remove any stories that people did not want included, but were then told, point blank, to “Fuck off” from the community and archive we’d spent all those hours, days, months, years into maintaining.

    And we were both only too glad to oblige at that point.

    Thankfully, two Loris were ready to help us out. “Lori” took over maintaining the archive and list. “Lorrie” offered us hosting on her own server (for both the archive and sockiipress overall). Eventually I moved to my own hosting service entirely, cutting off completely from my connections to Q/O fandom.

    Except, happily enough, ties to some of the wonderful friends I made there, despite all the angst and wank and aggravation. Many of them I am still in touch with today in other fandom communities, fabulous people I will forever thank my involvement in Star Wars fandom for bringing into my life. I learned a lot from my time in the fandom, good and bad, and I definitely would not take those years back for anything. That said, I’m also quite content to be back to lurking around in small and obscure fandoms these days. The pickings might be slim, but the pleasure is rarely overwhelmed by the aggravation.

    So happy anniversary, master-apprentice! Our love may have been brief and heated, but when it was good, it was oh, so good…

    An interesting small fandom success story

    May 16th, 2009

    Riptide has long been one of my favorite “forgotten” television series and orphan fandoms. It was a fun show lost somewhat under the shadow of The A-Team when it first aired, and eventually killed in the ratings by the hit competition series, Moonlighting. There was a small amount of fiction written for the series in fanzines, but not a great deal (and mostly hurt/comfort), and the fandom seemed to really disappear off the radar in the past decade.

    So imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled onto pier56, a LiveJournal community for the show created last year. I joined it, thinking at first it would probably be like most comms I’ve belonged to for obscure fandoms: sadly mostly dead, with perhaps one or two postings a month–and maybe one or two decent stories to read in a year.

    Well, to my continued surprise and delight, the comm seems to be thriving! New fiction is posted just about daily (and not just by one person). There is active discussion about the series, the characters, the setting, and other information related to the show. It’s a thriving little community for a series which has been off the air for over twenty years, and seems to have come back out of nowhere. Which of course, has left me wondering, so how did they do that?

    It seems the answer lies in a combination of factors. For one, the series has been out on dvd for a few years now–unlike some of my other obscure loves like Brimstone which never has been so lucky to find an official release and therefore is limited in how easily new fans can be introduced to the show. I’ve also been told that one of the community moderators took an active lead in promoting the community–not just through the typical techniques of spamming other livejournal communities and posting banners around, but taking advantage of livejournal’s “interests” feature, and going forth to individually contact people who listed “Riptide” as an interest. The moderator also put time in writing up guides for the show for communities such as ship_manifesto, and has welcomed not just slash fans but writers and readers of other genres of fiction to the community.

    All that said, there still has to be some magical “it” factor at work here, and it’s something I’ve long pondered over after being frustrated that so many fandoms I’ve loved and felt should have gotten bigger and more love never did so. Is it just a case of “Riptide” being a right fandom at the right time for a particular audience of fans? The right person taking up the charge to promote a fandom successfully? Will the community be able to maintain this level of activity for an extended period of time, or will it begin to flounder if the core active people lose interest or drift away? I’ll be curious to see what happens. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of stories to catch up on reading!

    Kirk/Spock gets mainstream media shout-out.

    May 7th, 2009

    Interesting to see a reasonably well-written piece on Kirk/Spock fandom in Newsweek this week. I had just blogged a few days ago about how the new movie might bring Star Trek and its fandom more attention and momentum. I’m sure there will be a lot of new people searching around for information on this “slash” thing thanks to articles such as Newsweek’s, or stumbling across it if they go looking for Trek pages on the web after seeing the movie.

    Race!Fail: Search terms generating visits

    March 15th, 2009

    Over at Fan History, we’ve mostly been reading about Race!Fail. Our reading has been helped along because another admin and a contributor have been developing a list of links related to Race!Fail.  I first noticed a few search visits a few days ago as a result of the articles and so I was kind of curious as to what people were interested in Race!Fail as it pertained to Fan History’s content and how they interacted with it.  So we took a poke through Google Analytics and the following table should give you a good idea.  We thought it was interesting.  (Coffeeandink?  Not so interesting.  Patrick Hayden? Much more interested.  Will Shetterly? Not as fascinating as Elizabeth Bear.)

    Fan History's Race!Fail related keywords as of March 15 2009: bear eliazbeth novel race bear poc elizabeth blood and iron   racefail coffeeandink coffeeandink outed elizabeth bear   writing the other   elizabeth bear + racism elizabeth bear cultural appropriation elizabeth bear debate elizabeth bear literary elizabeth bear open apology elizabeth bear other elizabeth bear race elizabeth bear race fail elizabeth bear racism elizabeth bear racist elizabeth bear racist character elizabeth bear wank elizabeth bear writing the other elizabeth bear   blood iron racist elizabeth bear   racism elizabeth bear   racist elizabeth bear   wank elizabeth bear, racism elizabeth bear's racist comments fandom wank elizabeth bear fandom wank race fail fandom wank race fail 09 higher races doctor who wiki kerfuffle doom cultural bear livejournal race wank livejournal racewank neilsen hayden race wank nielsen hayden race fail patrick nielsen hayden bear elizabeth patrick nielsen hayden deleted journal patrick nielsen hayden race fail patrick nielsenhayden wank patrick nielson hayden bear racism race and fandom race fail race fail 09 wank race fail nielsen haydens race fail wiki race fail   + nielsen hayden race in fandom race wank race wank meta livejournal racefail 09 racefail 90 bear racefail fandom wank racefail fandomwank racefail patrick nielsen hayden racefail wank racefail, patrick nielsen hayden racefail/wank09 racewank race-wank racewank 09 racewank 2009 racewank hayden stargate race fail teresa nielsen hayden  teresa nielsen hayden racist teresa patrick race nielsen hayden the doom race wank theresa nielsen hayden race science fiction theresa nielsen-hayden   wiki coffeeandink wiki race fail will grace list wiki will shetterly race fail writing the other elizabeth bear writing the other   elizabeth bear writing the other, elizabeth bear

    The most commonly searched for phrase getting here was Elizabeth Bear Racism.  The most pages per visit?  Race-Wank.  Interesting stuff.

    Work for hire fan fiction contest? We need an organization to fight that!

    February 20th, 2009

    Have you heard about the Britney Spears fan fiction contest? I have. It is being run by Britney Spears‘s label. Should be massively awesome great fun! If you win, well you get the totally awesome prize of having your story turned into “official digital music video!”

    Haven’t we heard about stuff like this before? Oh wait. We have. Only this Britney Spears contest makes them look angelic, showing corporations how to run things where fan fiction is concerned. Why? Because you retained the rights to your story when you uploaded content to their archive.

    Take a look at the fun contest rules for the Britney Spears contest:

    (ii) you agree that the Submission Materials shall be a “work made for hire,” with all rights therein, including, without limitation, the exclusive copyright, being the property of Sponsor. In the event the Submission Materials are considered not to be a “work made for hire,” you irrevocably assign to Sponsor all right, title, and interest in your entry (including, without limitation, the copyright) in any and all media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all uses thereof, including, without limitation, for purposes of advertising or trade.

    (c) You hereby hold Sponsor harmless from and against any third party claim arising from use of the Submission Materials. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Submission Materials or to be compensated for any such uses. You hereby represent and warrant that you are at least 13 years of age and that you have read these Official Rules and are fully familiar with their contents.

    When you know that other company was created with a Terms of Service that was a bit more benign? The “fandom” response included the beating of chests, and gnashing of teeth. Fans were angry! And they remained angry for months! They followed the news about the site. They blogged about it. They wrote academic papers! They were not going to allow people to colonize and commercialize their space and take advantage of fans who didn’t know better because they weren’t integrated into mainstream fandom. And out of that outrage, an organization was born. This organization’s purpose was to lobby for fan rights as they applied to fan fiction derivative works.

    And so, twenty months after that event, with the organization well under way and having much support in the community? With the organization being aware of the Britney Spears fan fiction contest because information about it was posted to fanthropology, a LiveJournal community that many of the organization’s members follow actively follow having a post about it? You just know that the organization is on the case! They too are outraged about this! The bandom community that is represented by the organization is leading the charge! There is outrage because really, the Britney Spears contest makes that other organization look good! And rights of fans need to be protected! Especially those that don’t matter! And dude, they are trying to commercialize fan fiction while stealing the rights away from fan fiction writers! Woe! Unfair! Cruel! This must be stopped!

    Wait. No. There isn’t outrage. I jest! They don’t care. This organization is not the least bit interested in Britney Spears. They aren’t interested in publicizing the rules that even I, some one who doesn’t have a problem with commercialism in fan fiction, consider unfair. The organization hasn’t had Britney Spears fan fiction contest days where they encourage their members to write meta about how this is unfair on their LiveJournals and to submit those stories to metafandom. They haven’t updated their wiki to include information about the unfair rules on the Britney contest. This topic hasn’t made fandom_wank because passionate fans, members of that organization, have gotten so passionate that they’ve hit the batshit phase of defending fan rights. I haven’t seen Henry Jenkins blogging about this like he did with that other company. The fan outrage hasn’t gotten to the point where the folks over at Making Light, a for profit press, have started to weigh in on the side of their fandom brethren to complain about how another corporation is unfairly taking advantage of their fannish brethren.

    There isn’t any outrage and despite the so called lessons that the company taught us, nothing changes. The organization created to protect us does nothing. Why? Because really, who cares? This is Britney Spears. And that contest? It isn’t going to have any affect on fans like those that are involved with the organization. The Britney Spears contest isn’t going to challenge those fans perceived status in the fan community. They aren’t going to think that they are less than top dogs because of the Britney contest. So you see, the organization is going to sit quietly by while fans get screwed. Isn’t it lovely? That’s why we need them in fandom… to not document this, to not bring this to our attention, to not lobby for change that they could actually get done.

    There is no outrage and there continues to be no organization, no group of people dedicated to protecting fan rights when corporations cross the line. And that makes me sad. :(

    Pipl: Knowing more about you than you may realize

    January 29th, 2009

    TechCrunch ran an article about Pipl, a really cool people finding search engine. I’ve known about it for over a year because we get a half dozen visits a month from them. If you ever wanted to know anything about anyone, don’t go to Google, go to Pipl instead.

    That said, some corners of fandom has a lot of privacy issues. If you’re concerned about yours, definitely check it out because you might not be aware of how much you’re leaking out that you didn’t know about. That includes public records that governments have made available. And after you’ve done that, go and make sure your fandom friends know so that we people are made aware so there aren’t any future outings like the one in the Supernatural fandom as a result of people’s ignorance about the Internet and how it works.

    Women don’t write fandom history?

    January 18th, 2009

    Fan History’s sports section is pretty awful. Really awful. It is downright pitiful. And that’s really sad as I’m a huge sports nut and I know my Chicago Cubs sports fandom history fairly well. I and Fan History’s other admins have just not invested time in improving it because really, sometimes, why bother?

    Sports fandom has traditionally been dominated by guys and they’ve done a lot to document the history of fans. Heck, there is a whole cottage history dedicated to documenting the thuggery that goes down in soccer (football) fandom. This academic work has traditionally been done by guys. It is really well done.

    Media fandom has traditionally been dominated by women and they haven’t done much to document the history of fans. There have been a few things done here and there but most of the research focuses on the product itself. If fans are looked at, it is from perspective of how they interact with the product rather than how fans interact with each other. It is totally different from sports fandom. So women aren’t writing fandom history and aren’t writing the history of their own communities.

    Of course, this could be something that isn’t a gender issue. It could be a product issue. In sports fandom that tends to be historically dominated by guys, the product and fans aren’t really separate; they share an identity. You can’t really talk about the Chicago Cubs with out talking about its fans. (And if you’re a Sox fan talking about the Cubs, you can’t do it with out slagging on us.) Sports owners encourage that and really crank out the merchandise so fans can brand themselves as fans of a team. Our culture totally supports that by having “Support your team dress day!” type days at work. My local Jewel does that when the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears and employees are encouraged to support their team. Sports fandom also continues on and on. Teams generally don’t collapse/disappear over night and many have histories that are 20+ years old. They have a product you can get behind and have the time to get behind as the background for your life.

    Media fandom is different. The producers frequently don’t encourage that sort of relationship with the source. In a number of cases, they treated their most loyal fans as thieves or belittled them, telling them to get a life. When we think of Harry Potter and Twilight, most people outside of fandom don’t immediately think of the canon as batshit insane because the fans are batshit are insane. Most fans aren’t flaunting their relationship with the show in a way that a whole town could relate to and have special dress days for. Media fandom’s products also lack the time lasting factor. When Sex and the City went off the air, women picked a different show to watch or found another way to identify.

    So women generally aren’t writing fandom history. There are a few notable exceptions. Fan History is one but our major contributors early on came from spaces dominated by guys or from educational backgrounds where the approach more systematic, quantitative, regimented. Some of the other exceptions came out of competition with other women.

    Will this pattern radically change ever? Probably not. Women might write sports fandom history (And they do. Some have found walls that their sisters in media fandom haven’t encountered because of their gender.)  but they will probably remain in the minority for a long time. Women are so closely identified with media fandom and the source code has those identity issues that I see it as a huge barrier to overcome, and that won’t ever be overcome in terms of similar participation by men in sports fandom history documenting.

    Fannish migrations in early 2009

    January 14th, 2009

    Fannish migration patterns have once again become a topic of some intense discussion and and analysis in certain circles, and interesting to observe as one moderately-sized fandom, Stargate: Atlantis, just saw the airing of its final original-run episode. While not a fandom of the size of, say, Twilight or Harry Potter, Atlantis has been very popular within certain circles of media fandom for the course of its lengthy run, generating a large number of livejournal communities, fanzines, and various other kinds of fanworks.

    While surely many Atlantis fans will remain at least partially active in continuing to produce related fanworks (and those who prefer “closed” to “open” canons may now start to gravitate towards it), there is still a void now left for those fans who crave the active, participatory environment that only occurs with “live” fandoms–post-episode discussions, episode-reaction fics, speculation over coming canon events, etc. So the question of where those fans will go next is one worth considering.

    Already there seems to be a swell of interest in Merlin, and it has been noted that a number of popular Atlantis fandom members have begun to post works there. However, as is always the case with fandom migrations, not everyone is especially happy about this being the next “Bright Shiny (or Slashy) Object” among their fandom friends. Whereas Atlantis featured a fairly mature, adult cast, Merlin is clearly a show aimed toward the Young Adventure audience and the main characters are very, very youthful. Given that one of the major reasons Atlantis fans decried the replacement of their show with the upcoming Stargate: Universe series was that Universe, with its youth-oriented cast, sounded a lot like “90210 in Space”, it is hard to imagine Merlin filling the void for those members of fandom not interested in teenage adventures.

    There has also been some discussion and criticism of Merlin for its debatable race and gender issues, as well as overall writing quality, yet at the same time some of the series’ defenders would point out that Atlantis was not necessarily free of those issues either, nor was it the most intelligently-written science fiction show. Fandoms do not always spring up around the “best” source materials, the logic goes, as at least fan-writers often find more room to work in and explore in shows with interesting characters yet poor plot and writing execution.

    So how will the situation play out? Already it seems as though Merlin is an unstoppable fandom-on-the-rise, no matter how some people may bemoan and resist it even as their friends flock there. But this is nothing new–I still recall the cries and moans when Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon became the fandom that seemed to eat up half of Sentinel fandom, and that’s only one case I can think of quickly. For those who are not interested in Merlin but missing Atlantis where will they go now? It may be too soon to tell, and dependent on what they’re looking for most in a fandom first and foremost: A certain genre (scifi, fantasy, procedural)? Certain character types (older, younger, superheroes or ordinary joes)? Certain subtexts or relationship dynamics (slashy or UST)? Or just following particular actors?

    I’ll be curious to keep watching the statistics and seeing what happens next.

    A lament for Fandom on MSN Groups

    December 8th, 2008

    I’ve been blogging about the pending demise of MSN Groups, and some about the replacements – most specifically Multiply and Windows Live Groups. Multiply because it is the chosen replacement for MSN Groups, and Windows Live Groups since it is Microsoft’s own answer to MSN groups.

    So far nothing has come close to the versatility and ease of use that MSN Groups has had.

    Nothing.

    No other service allowed for custom webpages, for custom logos and buttons and separated messageboards. Nothing was as easy to use as MSN Groups. Just fill out the forms and bingo! You’re good to go. The webpage interface wasn’t exactly WYSIWYG, but it was close and allowed for far more colors than Windows Live Groups allows for (in fact, WLG doesn’t give you background colors for your discussion pages, which is the only place you can use HTML. Pretty much the same for Multiply.) You could easily hide pages, rearrange pages, add new albums, use the pictures from those albums in other spots… the learning curve was as shallow or steep as you wanted it to be. It accommodated both the novice webmaster and the more experienced. It was a great starting place for fandom groups; and a lot of fandoms were represented there.

    What will happen to those many fandom groups? Well, some of them will be lost forever come February because their owners just sort of abandoned them to the spammers before this point. There’s at least one Thunderbirds group I know of that falls into this category. It has a lot of interesting fanfic on it, but the owner has grown beyond it and has left it for the “lonely singles” spammers to keep it active (otherwise, it would have been deleted years ago). Some groups will migrate to Multiply, some to Geocities, some to Windows Live Groups… they’ll be scattered all over, and harder to find. The close-knit communities that had developed over the years will be broken up, never to truly be reclaimed again. A lot of interesting and unique fandom creations will disappear forever. I’ve already had that happen once to me; the thought of it happening again makes me sick.

    Is there a perfect solution to this forced diaspora? Not really. If you want to have the same flexibility as MSN Groups has, you’ve got to create your own website, and very likely, you’ll have to pay for it. And if you want to continue having a free site, you’ll have to pay in other ways, with intrusive ads or with a loss of those features you’ve become accustomed to.  (Yes, MSN Groups has ads, but because of their placement, they are ignorable.)

    As a side issue, I’ve been poking around the Windows Live team blogs for the past few days, and I noticed that they’re not asking for feedback on WLG. Everything else, yes. Windows Live Groups, no. I think they know what kind of response they’d get there: a very angry one from a large group of disgruntled MSN Group owners.

    So, we’re losing a piece of fandom property. What’s to go next?

    ETA: I’m also aware that AOL is/was dumping their Groups. So there are more fandom communities disappearing. Let’s hope that Yahoo doesn’t join the pack.

    Random fandoms

    December 3rd, 2008

    I was doing some random viewing of articles on Fan History and I stumbled across another of people who belonged in multiple fandoms where the fandoms that they belonged to didn’t seem to go together at all… Below is a list of a few of the ones that made boggle and smile:

    Do these fandoms go together?  Is there a logical connection which would indicate a person would be a fan of them all?  Also, what fandoms do you belong to when you look at them all together would appear random to others?

    RickRolling goes maintstream

    November 28th, 2008

    There’s something both scary and epic when an internet meme like RickRolling goes so mainstream that it’s featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Reading the comments posted about it on YouTube is quite interesting as well, as an observer of fandom and internet culture: while some saw yesterday’s RickRoll as the pinnacle of the meme’s success, others say it is a clear sign that the meme has “jumped the shark” and is officially dead. I am personally still finding it just incredibly surreal.

    I hope everyone who celebrated had a good Thanksgiving yesterday and will enjoy the rest of the holiday season! Does your fandom do anything special to celebrate or mark this time of year? Now is a good time to make the time to record any such information in the Fan History Wiki.

    Twitter, fandom and me

    November 25th, 2008

    Before I begin this, I need to define what I mean by fandom because fandom and entertainment fans (consumers of popular culture) can often look alike but they frequently don’t act the same.

    Fandom, Members of fandom:

    • Group that shares a common interest in a media product such as Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Wars, Pokemon, Starcraft, etc.
    • Are actively engaged with the product and other fans by having discussions, creating and commenting on other people’s fan fiction (art, vids, icons, costumes, etc.), attending/organizing conventions, organizing campaigns to save/improve the media product, etc.
    • Form relationships based on shared interest where the relationships with other fans are central to their activities.

    Entertainment fans, consumers of popular culture:

    • Do not have a group identity as fans of a show.
    • Are passively engaged with the product by having conversations, commenting on blogs, blogging about the show, consuming the product.
    • Relationships are not at the heart of and purpose of their interactions with others who share their enjoyment of a media product.

    Put simpler: Fandom is about relationships.  Entertainment fans, not so much.

    Which brings me to Twitter and my sometimes confusing relationship with it as a fan.  And after a number of conversations with other fans, this is a problem that a number of other fandom people on the outside looking in suffer with.  What use is twitter for fans?  What use is Twitter for me as a fan?

    I come from fandom out of mailing lists and LiveJournal where relationships are key.  If there is an author I love, I would try to form a relationship of sorts with them.  I might ask to be there beta reader.  I might e-mail or IM them with questions about their stories or what else they are working on.  If they were writing to slowly, I might leave lots and lots of feedback or beg them to WR1T3 M0R3!  I might friend them on LiveJournal to keep up with what is going on with them.  If I get to have a relationship with them, then my enjoyment of the thing for which we share an interest is enhanced.  I have another person to squee with over new episodes, and insure that stories I love will be continued, have some one to unite with against other people in the community I don’t like.  I might also have some one who could attend a convention with me or share a hotel at a convention with me which could make attending that convention cheaper.  I’ve got a friend.  Well.  Sort of.  Once our interests change or if I do something which upsets the person’s ability to enjoy the community or the material, I don’t have a friend any more.  But while we’re both in that relationship, we’re great and we communicate a lot.

    If I want to get “ahead” in fandom, if I want to have greater influence, I form relationships with people who are in the position to help me.  I can make friends with fan fiction archivists, with authors who have huge amounts of readers, with content producers, etc.  And if I want to be able to leverage these relationships for my own benefit, I’ve got to actively work on maintain those relationships in order to maintain my status because they key to staying on top, well, the phrase is “What have you done for me lately?”

    So along comes Twitter.   Twitter is great.  Twitter is love.  For the social media lover in me, I can’t get enough of Twitter.  It means I can follow people I met at BarCamps, keep up with what is going on in the wiki community, possibly get some traffic for the site I run, can network with people who might have leads for work for me, can interact with news organizations in a way that I haven’t before.

    Except, well, for all the great things Twitter does for that, it doesn’t do much for me as a member of fandom.  Fandom is all about relationships remember.  It is one thing to follow a person and comment, but that’s not enough in fandom.  You need to have more focus and extended conversations.  The Twitter format just doesn’t allow for that.  It is too short to adequately share love of the source with or to hold conversations with others.  If you do try to have extended conversations on Twitter, if you’re not providing value to others who follow you, you could lose followers.  Ick.

    One of my friends has other issues which put her off Twitter as a member of fandom. Twitter is very immediate.  You can’t hold conversations over an extended period of time because the format doesn’t lend itself to that.  If I am out on Thursday and miss the new episode of CSI and my friend watched it, we can catch up on AIM or blog about it a couple of days later, when we have the time.  Twitter doesn’t allow that.  And when your relationship is dependent on that shared material, the inability to slow the flow of conversation on your own terms?  It can be bad news.

    Another friend has issues with some of the comments on Twitter being so banal and unrelated to why they care about the person.  They don’t care that you just woke up, that you’re eating breakfast, that you landed at Heathrow, etc.  They don’t care that you are having a conversation with SEO with some one on Twitter that teaches you a lot. (I get this a lot from my fandom friends on Twitter.  Especially when I start having conversations with people they don’t follow.  They’ve considered unfollowing me because I do that so often.)  What are they getting out of their relationship with me when I do that?

    Another issue that comes up is content.  Why follow me on Twitter for news about what I am doing fannishly when you can keep up with that on Fan History’s blog, my LiveJournal or on Fan History’s InsaneJournal asylum?  The information is better, more detailed and easier to follow.  It is easier to keep up to date because the content is much more focused.  The blog is going to be about fandom.  The posts will be once a day.  You’re not going to have to filter around my other random content.  If content is king, then Twitter, unless carefully focused, mostly includes links and doesn’t involve loads of engagement that is off putting, then well, Twitter fails.  Content on Twitter isn’t king when it comes to relationship maintenance.

    So relationships that are dependent on Twitter end up feeling shallow, where they feel hard to leverage for your relationships to faciliate your enjoyment of canon and accomplish your goals in fandom.  Things feel even more confusing when Twitter appears to require a large follow list to be viewed as important on or influential on Twitter (and in fandom).  How can you have relationships with people that are meaningful, that give you something back, when you can’t actively engage people because the “content” disappears so quickly and could easily be missed?  In terms of my fandom relationships, I find I can’t maintain them like I can in other places.  I end up having to play catch up with Twitter by reading their Tweets when daily summaries are posted to their LiveJournals.

    In the end, what this means for me is I, and a number of my fannish acquaintances, haven’t figured out how to use Twitter for our fannish enjoyment. Yes, I know how to use it to promote my projects. Yes, I love it for networking professionally. I understand how to use it to monitor reputations and get celebrity and entertainment news. I’ve found some great Chicago related social media events. Fandom though… still a problem and I can’t see it changing.

    RecentChangesCamp 2009

    October 27th, 2008

    Fan History is going to RecentChangesCamp again this year. If you love wikis, I can’t say enough good things about this gathering and you should go! The 2009 gathering is being held in Portland, Oregon from February 20 to February 22. (If you’re possibly coming from out of town, let me know and we can see about sharing a hotel room.)

    If you’re not familiar with RecentChangesCamp, it is a wiki conference that uses the open space model in terms of organizing the conference, determining the programming tracks, etc. It means that everyone who attends has an investment in it and if there is a wiki related issue that you have a pressing need to discuss with people, you can most definitely do it here.

    At last year’s RCC, there were people from WikiHow, Wikia, AboutUs, WikiTravel, Fan History, Wikipedia, academic institutions who used wikis, WikInvest, Vinismo, SocialText, a debate wiki, and more. I learned a lot from the people who attended.

    This year, I’d really, really love to see more fandom wiki people show up. There are some unique issues that fandom people can have to deal with that would be great to discuss with other fandom people. How do you handle mentioning members of fandom? What are the copyright issues that fans should be aware of? What corporations should fans be careful of in terms of intellectual property when creating their wiki? How do you develop an audience for your fandom specific wiki? Who can you talk with about wikis to get guidance when things don’t look good? How good of a model is Wikipedia for fandom? Is wiki code too big of a barrier to entry to get large scale participation among the general fandom population? How can you avoid wank on your wiki? What are fun things you’ve learned about fandom as a result of working on your wiki? Can you play an active role in your wiki or is there too much fandom liability for the creator to be the major editor of it? How can wikis be used in the fan communities and on existing fan sites? Yes, a lot of these questions apply to the wiki community as a whole but fandom politics can give some of these issues interesting twists.

    If you’re thinking of attending, yay! Please let me know. Maybe we can create a mailing list for fandom wiki people in the run up to RCC, get together before the RCC for lunch or something else to help really start developing fandom oriented wiki networking so that we can begin to get a good support group in place.

    AOL message boards are closing and taking a bit of fandom history with them

    October 18th, 2008

    AOL’s message boards have played an important role in the growth of on-line fandom.  They were often the first experience many had with on-line fandom because of AOL’s reach, its market saturation and because AOL had content locked behind its service that you needed to subscribe to in order to gain access to.  While some parts of fandom might have come of age on-line with Usenet, through services like Prodigy and GEnie and university provided Interner access, many more did it through AOL.

    AOL stopped being the subscriber of choice by the early 2000s and official boards began to die as fewer and fewer people participated on them.  Eventually, the boards were moved from AOL’s locked behind ISP software to the web.   People continued to use them less.  And now, it looks like AOL is officially killing their boards.  It brings an official end to that part of fandom’s history.  It is pretty sad in its own way.

    Announcement: Fan Fiction Stat Bot

    September 13th, 2008

    I’m in a really happy, excited mood! Fan History has accomplished one of our goals: To have data regarding fandom size and growth. We view this as an important step forward in telling the history of fandom, understanding fandom and being able to explain what the hell is going on by having some hard data to back it up.

    How are we doing this and what exactly are we doing? The how is Fan Fiction Stat Bot. Fan Fiction Stat Bot has a list of fandoms, of spelling variants of those fandoms, and of urls for fandom directories on a handful of fan fiction archives. The bot accesses those directory pages, looks for the fandom name (or variant), finds how many stories are on the archive in that category, stores that information, does a simple math computation to determine how many stories were added or removed from the fandom and then puts that information into a table. Once every fandom is done, it calculates how which fandoms had the most stories added to them. It then adds this information the the appropriate articles. What we get is a daily list of fandoms that have the most stories added to them and a record of activity in different fandoms.

    Did I mention I’m happy and excited? I am! The bot has only been running two days but we’ve got some data worth speculating about. I’ve seen some discussions regarding how big the Twilight fandom is and questions of if it will be bigger than the Harry Potter fandom. Our list of fandom movers and shakers has Harry Potter but there as the fandom with the second most additions for September 13. It was third for September 12. Twilight was third on September 13 and second on September 12. There isn’t enough data to draw a conclusion yet but we can see that the two fandoms are both comparable in amount of activity in the fan fiction community at the moment. Harry Potter does seem to have an edge in terms of amount of activity because the fandom has people uploading stories to multiple archives. Twilight lacks similar activity, with all the activity taking place on just FanFiction.Net. We really need more time and more data to draw a better conclusion, to get a better idea of what is happening, to better be able to compare these two fandoms… but we have a tool to help us to be able to do it. And that strikes me as awesome.

    Power in fandom

    July 9th, 2008

    I had a conversation yesterday with some one doing something similar to what I’m doing. One of the things we talked about was the new power structures. He talked about it in the context of business and I talked about it in the context of fandom as it pertains to fan fiction communities.  For this post, I’m defining power as the ability to influence  beyond your  personal sphere and the subcommunities which members of fan fiction fandom belong to.

    My perspective on this in fan fiction fandom is skewed based on my involvement… but the way I see it is that older power structures, in the pre-Internet days, were based on two variables: Access to TPTB and Capability of getting things done coupled with information brokering. If you had one or the other, you had some power in fandom and you had standing in fandom. By the time that authors were creating mailing lists for their readers to follow them and LiveJournal (and blogging) became popular in parts of fandom, the power structure was perceived as changing. For the first time, it really looked like content creators were in charge and they were using this ability to leverage their position in fandom relative to the creators. A number of fan fiction writers got behind and pushed several projects to the forefront. This was the case for Fiction Alley, a Harry Potter fan fiction site. Writers leveraged their popularity in order to help get book deals.

    But the power structure, briefly in the hands of fan fiction writers changed again. Or rather, it became apparent that when fan fiction writers had the chance to leverage their position, they didn’t do it and their lack of action made the fact that doers were really the more powerful force more apparent. The fan fiction community seemed to have turned back in on itself, sought recognition and power from with in the existing community rather than courting outsiders. They didn’t effectively engage and demand changes from the people who control the services they used that were inside fandom, nor outside fandom. Parts of the fan fiction community had the same problems with engaging information brokers: They didn’t or didn’t do so effectively.

    To be fair, there is nothing wrong with having failed to engage. People have different priorities and different needs. They get different things out of fandom and there are vested interests, legitimate ones, in keeping fan fiction out of the spotlight. If you engage, if you lobby, if you demand, you risk attention which can run counter to your needs and concerns.
    Fandom outside of the fan fiction community seemed to get the concept

    Now, the fan fiction community appears to be back the spot where it was pre-Internet. The power is in the hands of doers who are capable of acting as information brokers or those who have access (or ARE) the powers that be. These are the folks most likely to engage outside of the circle of fandom where they are and have the most influence and the most power in fandom. Those who fail to do that, those who chose to engage only in a small narrow community, aren’t going to be perceived as powerful in fandom by other fans with whom they interact or those who are in the power to know. The information brokers, the doers aren’t as visible and don’t necessarily need to be because they can instead me known for their product instead. And the product will be seen and is seen as the new power structure in fandom.

    Thus end my incoherent thoughts on fandom and power.

    Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin