morgandawn: (Zen fen lanning Green)
[personal profile] morgandawn

A while back I did a series of posts about how technology has shaped – and continues to shape – our fandom culture: here,  here and here.   The short version: We do not use technology, technology uses us.  And I am not alone in blogging about this.

I came across two interesting posts discussing fandom’s migration to newer platforms and think they both fit into my belief that fandom needs to recognize the larger social and technological forces shaping our community.

 

First up, a fan discusses how twitter hinders fan communication

The mix of locked and public accounts, trying to follow multi-branching conversations when sometimes you can’t see what half the people are saying, and of course the character limit are all huge obstacles to good fandom discussion.....Twitter has the extra wrinkle of locked accounts, especially in RPF fandoms where harassment from “mainstream” fans of the sport/movie/musician/etc is a very real possibility. It’s understandable, but since locking is a binary, all or nothing situation, it has the effect of first isolating a locked account and then, when they’ve become a sufficiently big presence in a circle of fandom Twitter accounts, isolating newcomers from that portion of the discussion.

 

Next up:   a fan argues that Tumblr benefits both visual and text based fan whereas LJ mainly benefited text base fans (as a text based fan I can say that – for me – Tumblr does not work as a method of discussing with other text based fans. But that is a side point to her main point.*)

 

“……what I mean by that is, I see a lot of posts, primarily from writerly types, talking about how much they miss LJ and how much better it was and how the friends from LJ are the best friends they’ve ever made and stuff like that, which is fine, as someone who cut their teeth on LJ myself, I understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t think they realize that tumblr—for all its many, many flaws—has made fandom participation much more accessible to nonwriter types than LJ ever was. if you didn’t write on LJ, you didn’t get noticed, you didn’t get the attention and the lifelong friends and people caring about your not-fic writing, because you just didn’t get that exposure. the same is true of tumblr, to a degree, given the creation-based nature of fandom in general [and there’s a whole other meta post to be had about fandom culture’s dirty little secret of not caring about people unless they produce content, but I’m not going to go into that here], but the difference is, on tumblr, if you can’t write creatively [like me /coughs], there are a far wider variety of entry points; gifs were functionally unknown on LJ, but on here gifmakers get a fuckton of attention, as do graphics makers, meta writers, and [admittedly to a lesser extent] vidders, and fanart has a wider platform on which to reach people…..

……this obviously has a great deal to do with the nature of the platform on which fandom conducts its activities;
 LJ was text based, so text-based content creation was king, and tumblr is image based, so image-based content gets more attention this way, but the main difference, in my view, is that LJ only had text, which resulted in written content dominating to the point of near total exclusion of nonwriters… I suspect the people singing LJ’s praises didn’t experience how isolating it could be if you didn’t produce the kind of content favored by the platform at the time. Meanwhile the relationships I’ve made on tumblr as a result of a major form of fandom interaction finally shifting to something I’m capable of doing are just as longlasting as the relationships made between writers on LJ, and I bristle a bit at the implication that they’re not.”

My thought:  when we use platforms designed by commercial entities for their own purposes, we end up absorbing some of their cultural DNA – this is not necessarily a bad thing and has been going on since the early days of Fandom Dodos (fanzines and mimeo machines oh my!) through the early days of UseNet and bulletin boards across mailing lists and into today.  But until we own the platforms; until we design them to meet our needs, we are influenced by these commercial forces in ways we often fail to examine or understand. And because we fail to understand how external forces are shaping and reshaping us, we tend to lose sight that we, as a community, do have agency. We also run the risk of losing the ability to both talk about ourselves and to ourselves in ways that bring us together.

 

Which is why AO3 (Archive of our Own) speaks to me on so many levels. “We own the servers” is not just a slogan – it is philosophical world view that peers into our future and says:  “Oh shit, that’s one big tidal wave coming down on us. Let’s build a boat. And if we get wet, we’ll get wet together.“  

 

And which is why I wish that we had better tools to communicate with our fellow fans – ones that did not encourage us to limit and self-segregate us or force us into creating artificial divisions. I am a text based fan – but I am also a vidder and can communicate visually.  I like having more privacy controls  – but I may, or may not use them, understanding that with every “locked” tweet or post I am locking myself away. I like to blog about fandom – but also about art and music and politics and social change and kittens. I love it when people tag their posts (easier to find what I want when I want it), but I don’t object to tagless posts.  I see myself as a media fan while also acknowledging that many fans who are part of my community do not identify themselves that way.

   

In conclusion:  

Source.

*Edited: the original post focused on tumblr as a medium for content creation and not as a medium for communication. I quoted however a bit more of the original post now that I've removed the link.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 03:40 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
I love this post! Yes to everything you wrote. Maybe OTW will consider crafting a communication platform at some point?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 05:07 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
LOL. Great minds--my first thought was, as much as I love AO3, I really can't wait until we get DM there. I don't need yet another blogging platform (and I fear we'd just split things even further), but I want to be able to DM people so badly!

Morgan, great posts! I'd say though that it goes both ways--we alter interaction in response to infrastructure and technology, but we also shape and alter them to our desires (for LJ, I'm thinking about RPGs as an example of the first and newsletters as one for the latter).

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 06:43 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
I think I first came across it (though probably not consciously at the time :) when I was reading on Gossamer and was wondering why the story parts were so strangely equal length with little sense to where the cuts were...until I realized it was newspost max length that had filtered down into the writing process.

I've thought about this a lot--for a while, I was cowriting a book on that very issue, but...life happened :) But it's totally fascinating how these interfaces affect not just how we create what what we create!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 05:20 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
I disagree, I think we do need another platform -- probably not an explicitly blogging one -- that combines the best features of social media, tumblr, and LJ/DW with the kind of pseud-stickiness, security, and adjustable privacy settings we want. I'm not saying everyone would go there, but I don't think it would fragment us further. AO3 hasn't done so; indeed, it seems to have unified us in some ways.

Not to say everyone is using it or everyone should be.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 06:39 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
Maybe I don't have enough imagination, but I feel like DW is pretty much most of what I'd want and while it isn't "our" platform, it's probably as in sync with fannish ethos as any commercial platform would ever be, and yet most of my fandoms has disappeared into twitter and tumblr, which to me are incredibly unfriendly fannish spaces (both in terms of the providers and the interfaces).

But then I never see it coming :) If anyone had told me that twitter would be a major fannish thing, I'd never have believed it...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 07:00 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
DW addresses many of my needs, but I do like the image-saturation and low commitment of Tumblr and the freedom to post tiny nuggets of info and links on Twitter. I post there most often these days, a combo of RL and fannish interactions. I can envision a platform with allows both short- and long-form text and gifsets like tumblr, with comment threading and privacy settings like DW, and the ease of Twitter.

But then I'm a techie.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-26 06:07 pm (UTC)
sdwolfpup: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sdwolfpup
I agree. Our perfect fannish platform in a sense, which is likely impossible as we want something that serves all masters equally. But something that strives to our ideal would be lovely.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-26 07:39 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
I have no idea if this is on OTW's roadmap, but it seems like something we could get off the ground if we were sufficiently motivated.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-26 02:31 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
Direct Messaging <3

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 04:47 pm (UTC)
sakana17: 7 cats, one dog, and their humans (jyj-pets)
From: [personal profile] sakana17
Agreed on all counts. And you've expressed it wonderfully.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 05:10 pm (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I like your ideas here. The other problem for fandom is a technical one, commercial locks clamped on technical know-how. How do fannish developers know what's possible in a platform unless they're already involved in companies doing that sort of work? Not everything will be horribly sekrit and proprietary, and open-source folks are going to fight that kind of silo-ing of information, but it's been a problem in the past.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-25 08:18 pm (UTC)
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
From: [personal profile] twistedchick
*loves this post*

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-26 01:51 am (UTC)
intrigueing: (starsky & hutch: two's trouble)
From: [personal profile] intrigueing
This is great, and the reference to Darmok is spot-on! The post about tumblr is great. I don't dislike what tumblr is, I only dislike what it leaves out. I think the development of fandom gifsets was pretty damn genius.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-26 09:47 am (UTC)
copracat: Audrey Hepburn looking over her shoulder (audrey)
From: [personal profile] copracat
Wow, in that part you quote littlelansky is completely wiping out the LJ history of icon making and sharing, screen cap meta and story-telling, vidding and other visual fanworks that were really popular on LJ and DW. The idea that LJ is all words all the time is just flat out wrong. True, Tumblr is so much better for sharing images, not just in the variety it allows you to post but that the storage/uploading of those images is relatively seamless. Gifs have flowered into an amazing art on Tumblr, and I say that as someone who dislikes them because of how they wibble my eyesight and hurt my brain.

Your point about taking control of our tools is well made.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-27 05:38 pm (UTC)
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
From: [personal profile] elf
Not sure how to put this into the conversation:

I made a couple of solid, long-term friends on LJ by reading their fic and offering to upload it to AO3, at first before there was an import function, and later, offering to fix the formatting/headers that got imported along with the fic.

You didn't need to be a fic writer to make friends; you just needed to interact with individuals, rather than throw content out to the world and wait to see who liked the same kind of content you did.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-03 03:02 am (UTC)
gattagrigia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gattagrigia
I find it ...odd... that someone would think that in order to 'do' fandom, you have to create, and be noticed thereby. And if you are not noticed, you are prohibited? from participating. That's not my experience of 'fandom'. As elf sez, interacting with fans is fandom, all kinds of fans, with all kinds of interests. Is it just that in the 'old days' there were so much fewer venues to find people with like interests? or was I spoiled by the individuals that I interacted with, like Snady, who was pan-fandom and could talk to anyone, in any media.

I get that there are visual and textual brains, and sometimes they can't talk to each other. But cannot these brains interact, some place neutral, that lets the object of the interaction be primary, instead of the interface? The tech indeed owns us now. Ok, maybe it always did. No VCR, no tapes, zines hard to come by if you even knew they existed? Thus feral fans are born, creating content without interaction. Maybe that's the point, if you have no way to interact, you create for yourself. Too hard.

As the song sez, "There's a place for us, somewhere a place for us..."

Something that I found interesting and pertinent to another problem, that of conservation of digital resources. I've been playing with online libraries of medieval manuscripts; there's a growing number of them on the interwebs, with beautiful images and metadata and links and everything! But there are problems when a prime resource is discontinued, unsupported, abandoned. Here's a blog post about it - https://manuscriptroadtrip.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/manuscript-road-trip-a-dh-detour/ I find it interesting that it's not just us little people trying to conserve our own history, but the large well-funded institutions, seeking to preserve cultual works of the last 1000 years, with money and structure and ostensibly support, have just the same problems - what happens to an archive, when the only person working on it is let go, or dies?

I really appreciate all that you have bneen posting and researching and thinking about and sharing. You are amazing. Pet the cats for me, too - they are quite cute!

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morgandawn

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