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[ADMIN] Fandom is Love: OTW April Membership Drive

Fandom Is Love: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

It’s the last days of the April membership drive of the Organization for Transformative Works! The OTW and its people make sure that platforms like FanhackersTransformative Works and Cultures, the Archive of Our Own, and Fanlore are there for everyone to use and enjoy. They’re also behind fanwork preservation projects like Open Doors, provide essential legal advocacy for fanworks, and much more.

The OTW is a nonprofit organization run entirely by fans, for fans, and we rely on the generous support of donors and volunteers to keep projects like TWC and Fanhackers going. We warmly invite anyone to become an OTW member by making a donation of US$10 or more – at any time, but especially now.

The details from transformativeworks:

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Donations to OTW are tax deductible in the United States. If you have questions about donating, please visit our membership FAQ (located at the bottom of the donation page) or contact the Development & Membership committee. The OTW and its projects depend on the support of fans like you. Be a part of this ongoing labor of love — please donate today.

Thank you!

[ADMIN] Intro post: Marina

*taps mic*

Hi! I’m Marina, one of the (new) regular writes for Fanhackers. I’ve been in fandom since I was roughly thirteen years old (insert fond memories of printing out La Femme Nikita/DS9 crossovers and putting them in a big binder titled FANFICTION). Fandom has been part of my life through highschool, enlisting in the military and finally academia (where, through an odd confluence of events, I managed to obtain a triple major bachelor’s degree in Sociology & Anthropology, Film & Television and East Asian Studies).

I’ve mostly been part of fandoms because I was drawn to the source material (which then inspired me to make vids, write fanfiction, make graphics) but sometimes I’ve oddly (or not-so-oddly) found myself participating in fandoms where the canon was of no interest to me. I love fandom, its creative energy, the sense of being part of a global community that shares a common interest (or obsession, whatever), and sometimes that experience has been worth it to me even if the original source of fannish love was of little interest.

Lastly, I should probably mention that I was born, raised and currently reside outside of North America (outside of the Anglosphere, actually), and English is not my mother tongue. Though my participating in fandom has primarily been in English I’m also part of other linguistic communities, which means one of my interests, as an academic and as a fan, is exploring the differences in fannish culture across different languages and continents.

Academia wise, I’m currently in the process of getting my MA in sociology. My interests include cultural differences (shocking, I know), the study of pornography (including pornography in fan creations) and global organizations for social change.

So, that’s me! I look forward to talking about fandom in this space and reading the interesting things people have been submitting and writing.

[ADMIN] Input wanted: proposed changes to Fanhackers’ policy on quoting fannish meta

Fanhackers launched a week ago with a policy on not quoting or linking to fannish meta without permission. Following thoughtful discussion in various public and private places, like here, we’re proposing to change that policy to something in this vein:

Quoting and linking to fannish meta without asking permission of the author is absolutely okay. We want to make sure that fannish meta gets as much of a place on here as other kinds of meta, and that means making it easier for people to quote. We leave it to individual posters to judge whether they believe the author of the fannish meta they’re quoting wouldn’t mind having outside attention drawn to their fannish space.

If someone’s fannish meta is quoted or linked to on Fanhackers and they’re uncomfortable with that, they can contact us with a link to said meta in said fannish space. Then we send them a message through there for verification, and after we’ve received a reply to that, we turn the Fanhackers posts in question private and invisible to all. We also alert the person who made those posts, in case they want to contact the meta’s author themselves and see if they can work something out. If we never hear back from the meta’s author that they’re okay with the Fanhackers posts staying up after all, the posts stay private forever.

Does this sound like a reasonable middle ground? 

It’s an imperfect compromise. For instance, just making Fanhackers posts on the WordPress and Tumblr mirrors private may not erase all mention of the meta, since people may have repeated the info elsewhere in ways we can’t control (like through reblogs). And giving authors of fannish meta the option to take it down while denying said option to authors of other meta still means setting fannish meta apart in some way. However, this compromise may be a useful way for this space to make sure fannish meta is represented while also recognizing that meta published in different contexts can have different intended audiences.

If you have any suggestions for making this policy better, or any arguments against it that you think we may not have considered yet, please reply to this post in the next three days, by 11pm UTC on Tuesday (convert times here). We’ll take another hard look at the arguments after that and make a decision.

Tuesday is very soon, but we want to settle this quickly and not get bogged down in endless discussions on the relative importance of one pro to another con. If we do adopt the proposed new policy and it has unexpected and/or serious negative effects, we’re always open to reconsidering. Fanhackers is a very experimental thing. Everyone should feel free to propose improvements and have those suggestions dealt with fast, so we can see if they work and chuck them if they don’t. What do you think?

[ADMIN] Quick note: all RSS/DW/LJ feeds of the Symposium Blog now point to its successor, Fanhackers

To everyone who used to be subscribed to TWC’s Symposium Blog via an RSS feed, Dreamwidth feed, or LiveJournal feed: this blog has been rebooted into a new blog called Fanhackers, and the name of the feed changed to reflect that. It used to syndicate everything posted at symposium.transformativeworks.org, and it now syndicates everything at fanhackers.transformativeworks.org.

Sorry for any confusion! The name change of the feed wasn’t announced properly because of a combination of feed-related tech troubles and forgetfulness on our part. Many apologies.

[ADMIN] Introducing Fanhackers, a directory of informative things about fans

The Journal committee is proud to announce that Fanhackers, the shinier and more experimental new incarnation of the Symposium blog, is now open for business!

Short version

Fanhackers is a place for fans, academics, activists, and anyone else with an interest in info on fans to share and discover new ideas. It’s is a group blog where you can do the following things:

  • Post, search and discuss good fannish or academic meta about fans. Tl;dr allowed. This is the old Symposium blog, but much easier to post to.
  • Post and answer requests for copies of inaccessible academic papers that you need.
  • Post and explore quotes from long, hard to find, or otherwise hard-to-read works on fans. Just the really good bits, no tl;dr allowed.
  • Post and follow links to resources on fans, tools for writing and research, and news that may be of interest to people who like info and analysis on fans.

Read more about Fanhackers and the other functionality we’re planning on the About page. You can keep track via the WordPress mirror, the Tumblr mirror, Twitter, the DW and LJ feeds, or the RSS and e-mail subscription options detailed here.

Longer version

Making sure reliable info on fans gets made and reaches the right people has always been a priority for the OTW. The OTW blog reports regularly on important news that fans may want to know about. Fanlore is a place for fans to preserve their own history in their own words. The legal advocacy team works tirelessly to get correct info on fans to activists and governmental organizations whose actions can have an impact on fans. The fan video and multimedia project has prepared a range of practical and educational resources for and about vidders, and so on.

The Journal committee has been especially concerned with creating good info and getting it out there. Among other things, we made a whole new open access academic journal about fans, we helped get the vidding bibliography off the ground and are working to expand it into a broader resource on all things fan studies, and we made the Symposium blog as a place for fans and academics to share meta in a less formal setting.

We can and need to do better than that, though. There’s never been this much insightful and relevant academic, fannish and other meta on fans being created. However, a lot of the useful ideas from inside that meta never get beyond the borders of wherever they were published and don’t reach the people who want or need to hear them. Academic meta on fans remains hard to access because it’s often locked in expensive books and journals, or written in often needlessly complicated and inaccessible language. Fannish meta is scattered all around the internet. Activists working on topics like copyright and open culture often publish ideas that are incredibly relevant to fans, but many of those ideas never reach fannish spaces. We have so much info, and yet so much of it goes to waste.

Fanhackers wants to experiment with new ways of making sure that info on fans reaches the people who need it – not just when they know the info exists and are actively looking for it, but also when they have no idea yet that there’s something about fans that they need to know.

We want to make sure that everyone who’s looking for good info or analysis on fans can find what they need as quickly and as cheaply as possible, whether they need fannish or academic meta, a particular piece of information, or help. We want to make sure that fans and academics can cooperate and share their info, meta, publishing tools, and research tools, so that the wealth of work and experience that we already have is put to better use. We want to make sure that academic meta on fans is published in usable and useful ways, openly and in formats that make it easy to share and improve the info, so that fans can access what’s being said about them and academics can see their hard work put to use by many people. We want to make sure that anyone can discover what info on fans is already out there, so that all that work can get built upon rather than duplicated. And we want a place to talk about all the important, amusing, and informative things about fans that we stumble across.

Fanhackers is a space for us to experiment with how we can make those things happen. We’ll be changing and adding functionality as we figure out what works. Please drop by, browse around, share the info you have, and tell us how we can make this more useful and enjoyable.

[ADMIN] The joy of loopholes

Last year, Andrea Horbinski wrote a self-introduction post here that started out like this: There’s a certain propriety to the fact that I’m sitting in an apartment in Kyoto, Japan, as I write this post. Three and a half years ago, on a Fulbright Fellowship to Doshisha University in Kyoto, faced with a lot of free time and nothing in particular with which to fill it other than reading manga, biking around the city, and searching for interesting things on the internet, I fell (back) into fandom, and thence into the Organization for Transformative Works. I didn’t know it then, but that was a transformative moment for me. I suppose there’s a certain propriety to the fact that I’m sitting in a graduate student office at Doshisha University in Kyoto as I write my own self-introduction post. My road to Doshisha, and into the OTW, was completely separate from and unrelated to Andrea’s, but unfolded so similarly that I almost feel like I can point at her post and just skip my own introduction. She even likes the same titles I do. But I’ll take this opportunity to assert my individuality. I’m Nele Noppe, a Japanologist by trade, currently in the middle of a PhD fellowship at a Belgian university but spending a few years in Japan to learn about doujin culture (doujinshi and related fanworks). My research compares how English-language and Japanese-language fandoms exchange works. More precisely, I’m interested in the architectures and circumstances of those exchanges: what technology is used, what the legal limitations are, what languages are used, what the involvement of non-fans is like, and how all that influences what sort of works are made. I’m endlessly intrigued by what happens when technology, law, and large groups of very determined and enthusiastic people collide. As for the fannish side of things, I grew up on Franco-Belgian comics, but the American Elfquest was my first really active fandom. After buying a Zetsuai 1989/BRONZE mook at a con, I tumbled into yaoi and never looked back. I spent my last years of high school poring over dearly-bought Japanese-language BRONZE and Kizuna tankobon with a tattered kanji dictionary in hand, and enrolled in a Japapanese Studies program as soon as I could. More than half of my fannish life was spent memorizing everything on Aestheticism, roving around the old Anime Web Turnpike, and chatting on Yahoo! mailing lists. LiveJournal, fanfiction.net, and other big fannish hubs only came onto my radar after I wandered into Harry Potter fandom sometime around 2006. Right now, I write, read and draw mostly about Avatar: the Last Airbender, and lurk in a variety of manga fandoms. Avatar is a good fandom to be in right now, and not just because the new series The Legend of Korra rocks and I found a bunch of people who share my tiny OTP. As mentioned above, the clash of technology, fans, and law fascinates me no end, and parts of Avatar fandom have been getting into some pretty interesting clashes lately. Take the neverending string of online leaks from the new series, from clips to whole episodes. At first it seems to have been an insider who was smuggling out clips, but once they stopped, others took over and started tricking Nickelodeon’s website into giving up upcoming episodes early. Unless I’m mistaken, last week’s episode 5 was the first one that managed to air without being preceded by any leaks whatsoever. And of course everything that was leaked or uploaded to the official site was immediately re-uploaded elsewhere so fans outside the US could access it as well. Leaving aside the dubious legality of everything that’s been going on around Korra, what strikes me the most about this ongoing situation is how utterly unprepared Nickelodeon turned out to be to keep the leaks from happening, and people from sharing them around. (Viewer numbers for Korra were fantastic, leaks or no leaks.) Amazon met with a similar fate. The first part of the Avatar tie-in comic The Promise was supposed to be published only this January, but it was circulating online by November last year. Amazon made the issue available for pre-order and enabled the “look inside” feature, which shows every visitor a couple of pages from any book. A bunch of Avatar fans descended on the site, saved the handful of pages each of them could see, and started putting their puzzle pieces together. Nearly the whole comic had been reconstructed on Tumblr before Amazon realized what was going on and put some brakes on “look inside”. (Sales for The Promise were fantastic as well.) This is the sort of creative loophole-exploiting that, to me, is typical of the interesting times we live in. Individuals have technologies at their fingertips that even large companies couldn’t dream of just a few decades ago – and apparently can’t really grasp the significance of even now. The laws that govern the use of those technologies are completely out of sync with what people can actually do, or think they should be allowed to do. And there are a lot of people working together all around the world in order to communicate better and route around whatever hurdles are in their fannish paths. I expect that I’ll spend most of my Symposium posts talking about those things, and often from a transcultural perspective, given my focus on doujin. I’m thrilled to be here and get a chance to learn from you all.

[ADMIN] Signal Boosting – April Fundraising and Membership Drive!

Spring is here, at least in Ohio, and the world is buzzing with life. It’s a time when I start to realize how grateful I am to those people who sustain me during the winter, when trees are bare and not yet flowering frantically. Those people are fans, and I have the Organization for Transformative Works to thank for connecting me with more fans, fanworks, and fannish opportunities than I ever imagined existed.

I’ve been aware of the organization for two years, and I’m constantly learning new things and finding new content. Every issue of Transformative Works and Cultures feels like a gift to me, and I genuinely look forward to sharing new articles with my non-academic friends in fandom. (The others already read the journal!) I was pleasantly surprised just the other day to discover that Fanlore had a whole page devoted to one of my all-time favorite vids. The OTW does good work, and I look forward to working with the organization for many years to come. It’s always spring in online fandom, and I am so grateful for that. I’m making my donation today.

OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012. transformativeworks.org

Please support the OTW if you can.

[ADMIN] A Historian Says Hello

There’s a certain propriety to the fact that I’m sitting in an apartment in Kyoto, Japan, as I write this post. Three and a half years ago, on a Fulbright Fellowship to Doshisha University in Kyoto, faced with a lot of free time and nothing in particular with which to fill it other than reading manga, biking around the city, and searching for interesting things on the internet, I fell (back) into fandom, and thence into the Organization for Transformative Works. I didn’t know it then, but that was a transformative moment for me. But let me back up for a second. Greetings, salutations, and hello! 日本語が話す方に、初めまして!My name is Andrea Horbinski, and I am an academic in training, a historian, and a fan. I’m also a member of the OTW’s International Outreach committee, and I’m very excited to begin blogging for Transformative Works and Cultures‘ Symposium blog! So, let me give you a bit of an extended self-introduction. At the moment I’m a Ph.D. student in modern Japanese history at the University of California, Berkeley, with hopes of writing a history of manga for my dissertation. Manga, you say? You mean Japanese comics? Yes and yes. Watching anime in high school–are there any Revolutionary Girl Utena or Outlaw Star fans around?–got me into Japanese language classes at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where I eventually got my degree in both Classics and Asian Studies. My Fulbright Fellowship after college saw me researching hypernationalist manga in Doshisha’s media studies department, and I’m in the history department at Berkeley now, so as you can tell, I’m someone who believes passionately in the virtues of interdisciplinary approaches! My fannish curriculum vitae, as it were, is also a patchwork. I’ve been watching and reading science fiction and fantasy since about the age of four, but despite putting a few toes into Star Wars fandom when the first of the prequel movies came out, anime was the first thing I self-defined as a fan of, in high school, followed by manga in college. I still think of myself as an anime and manga fan first, but over the past few years I’ve greatly enjoyed expanding my fannish interests beyond anime and manga back into book and media fandoms, and my fannish output beyond AMVs into fanfiction and vids. It would take too long to give you a full list of my abiding fannish obsessions, but I have to mention Star Trek as well as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings as well as Harry Potter and the Young Wizards, the manga of CLAMP and Urasawa Naoki and Arakawa Hiromu, just to give you a sense of my interests. Some of my current fannish obsessions are CLAMP’s new manga Gate 7, the Narnia books and movies, the Avatar: The Last Airbender television series, Doctor Who and X-Men: First Class, and I’ve been watching the Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime in utter fascination. For me, the passion of fandom is a necessary part of my academic work, and the insights I’ve gained through fandom into a wealth of topics and issues, including history and writing (about) history, are invaluable. I’ll be writing from Kyoto, where I’m studying classical Japanese, for the rest of the summer before heading back to California for another full year of reading, writing, watching and working. I don’t know what exactly I’ll write about yet, but I’m hoping to give back a little of the enriched perspective I’ve gained here on the blog, and I’m very much looking forward to the conversations that will undoubtedly arise from writing and reading here, both online and in person. So, until then!

[ADMIN] Dana says farewell

It’s been exactly a year since this blog was launched, and I am proud and pleased to have helped get it started. Thank you, Nina and Karen, for inviting me to the party! This will be my final regular post — I’m handing off blogging duties to what feels, to me, like the “Next Generation” of acafans! Andrea, Lisa and Alex will keep you thinking and entertained as our Symposium blog marks the beginning of its second year.

Back in 2007, when the founders of the Organization for Transformative Works announced the goals for this new group, I was immediately an enthusiastic supporter, and I remain a believer and a dues-paying member. No organization or group can speak for all of fandom, of course, but the OTW is doing things in regard to fandom that I completely support. The OTW and the journal with which this blog is affiliated are examples of the fact that fandom appreciates its own history and recognizes its importance, and that our fan works aren’t merely disposable scribblings, but worthy of celebration, preservation and study.

A formal affiliation with an organized group, or volunteering with the OTW or the journal, is by no means necessary to doing fandom, of course, and there are pretty much as many ways of doing fandom as there are fans.

That said, here are some things fandom has done for me personally — some benefits and some gifts I have in my life because of fandom.

–Friends around the world, mostly women, including some awesome and inspiring creative collaborators. (My touchstone here is the quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: “Well-behaved women seldom make history”!)
–An appreciation for a bunch of shows and movies I would never have discovered any other way, and the discovery of the myriad joys of fan fiction, vids and art inspired by those shows and movies. (I knew about The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek way before I found fandom, but there are a baker’s dozen of new-to-me fandoms I would never have discovered without the squee of my friends-lists.)
–An outburst of creativity unprecedented in my life before fandom, and a serious recommitment to fiction writing. Related to this: If I had not discovered fandom, I doubt I would have had the experiences that led me to volunteer for teaching creative writing at my university.
–Knowledge and growth in a range of subjects I would never have researched, studied or even cared about without being exposed to them through fandom, and the opportunity (and a platform) to share and discuss my learning.
–A sharpened commitment to feminism and minority issues, including LGBT issues, a heightened attention to media depictions of same, and also, new appreciation for how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.
–An internet community that’s helped me feel less isolated, particularly when my kids were in diapers and face-to-face socializing and support was hard to find in the almost suburbia/almost rural area where I live. Anyone who thinks online friendships aren’t real? Has never had one.
–New and amazing flavors of joy, fun, and humor.

I look forward to continuing to participate in fandom (and you might very well see guest posts from me here in the future), so this isn’t really goodbye. Keep misbehaving, fandom, in all your multifaceted identities and ways! And do keep in touch. You can find me on Dreamwidth at sterlinglikesilver.

[ADMIN] Introduction Post

Hello! My name is Alex Jenkins, and I will be replacing Cryptoxin as Dana’s regular co-blogger here at the Symposium Blog. I’m very excited about posting here, and I hope to continue Cryptoxin’s excellent work creating a bridge between academic work on fandom on the one side, and fannish meta on the other. In my home fandoms (think Whedonverse), these intersect pretty much constantly, but I am just as constantly (and pleasantly!) surprised how much the two worlds have to offer one another, and how much their intersection can deepen our engagements with source texts, as well as with one another.

I’m a dissertating graduate student at Ohio State, where I teach writing classes, as well as classes on film and popular culture, when they let me. I blog occasionally about my dissertation research and teaching here at Fictional Fans. Once you get the joke in my title, you get my dissertation project: It’s not fan fiction, it’s fictional representations of fans. I was drawn to this topic because I felt that fiction offered a cool, as yet-untapped, resource for exploring the limits of FIAWOL — where could we better explore the extent to which a whole world can be organized around fannish engagement, but in storyworlds organized around fan-identified protagonists?

But don’t worry, that’s not what I’ll be writing about here. Here, I’ll be writing about topics that have been generating good conversations in fandom as well as in academic spaces, and working to locate productive tensions that seem to merit closer observation. It’s vague, I know. I look forward to finding my niche here, and welcoming your feedback.

Up next — my first “real” post, on The Social Network and/as RPF!

[ADMIN] Welcome!

We are delighted to begin offering you weekly posts in a blog affiliated with the journal Transformative Works and Cultures, specifically its Symposium section.

Our goal for this blog is to provide a lively forum for discussion of fan works and fan cultures, one which draws on the modes and traditions of both fannish meta and academic analysis. Above all, we want to offer a bridge between Transformative Works and Cultures and fannish discussions, by covering both fannish meta topics, and fannish perspectives on fan and media studies. Our hope is that the blog spurs greater interest in and engagement with TWC among fandom, and extends the reach of TWC by linking to and discussing ideas and themes presented in the journal.

Your regular bloggers are:

cryptoxin, who is a long-time fan of science fiction TV, comic books, professional wrestling, and anime. He came into online media fandom a few years ago, and his fannish interests include meta and vidding. He maintains personal journals on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal.

 Dana Sterling, who was abruptly catapulted into online fandom with the movies of “The Lord of the Rings.” She has loved the books since childhood, and never looked back after plunging into the fan community for the movies. Since then, she’s branched out into several other fandoms while retaining her love of all things Middle-earth. She was trained as a journalist, and after 20 years in newspapers, television, radio and magazines, now teaches a variety of communications classes at Oklahoma State University in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

The two of us intend to gear our posts to a general fannish audience interested in meta discussions and fan studies. The style and tone of the blog will be more informal than TWC articles, and we assume very little prior knowledge of specialized terminology. We will define and cite whenever necessary. We’ll follow the media fandom we know from Livejournal and Dreamwidth, but we anticipate addressing fan topics mentioned in other blogs and mainstream media, as well as the scholarly blogosphere where it intersects with fan studies.

So what can readers expect in the months to come? Weekly posts which will include:

– Reviews and reflections on articles in TWC, including its Symposium section.

– Discussion of trends and developments in fan cultures and fan works, riffing off of the types of posts that are highlighted by the Metafandom community on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. We always ask permission before citing a fannish journal, and we’ll only cite public posts.

– Critical discussion of external perspectives on fans and fan cultures, including those of journalists and academics.

– Brief interviews with acafen, and a monthly guest blogger.

– Reviews of books or journal articles relevant to fan cultures.

We will moderate and respond to comments, and hope we get a lot of them!

In short, we want to make this blog a bridge between the TWC journal and fandom, by producing a regular stream of content on meta and acafannish topics, content that will be available in a timely fashion, in between the semiannual journal issues.

Plus, we want to have a lot of fun with our friends. :)