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.
“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.”
*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.