As noted above, material culture is generally limited by money and space (Woo 2014, ¶4.1). This is not the case for textual productions, because anyone with a computing device, an Internet connection, and network permission to visit a relevant Web site (e.g., Equestria Daily) can find and access them. Thus they belong to no one in particular but rather to the fandom as a whole (Busse and Hellekson 2006, 7). In contrast to Derek Johnson’s argument that assigning authorship to bronies “attributes the creativity of participatory culture to exclusively masculine, adult, and heterosexual identities” (Johnson 2013, 145), I have found that the combination of accessibility and the ambiguity of digital creativity creates a situation in which no one possesses exclusive rights to fan fiction, just as no one owns the show Friendship Is Magic. As a means of participation and expression, fan fiction and digital media allow individuals and groups to explore and renegotiate the MLP source text in a way that has a tangible impact on how the community in general thinks about and draws from pony and its own history.
Cuteness, friendship, and identity in the brony community | Theo A. Peck-Suzuki | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2eUIZYz
The mainstreaming of fandom into millennial culture is a chosen stance of fans to represent their modes of engagement as more than only niche and subcultural. Fans choose to post about their fan engagement in the public spaces of Tumblr rather than the locked communities and friends-only journals of the late 1990s and early 2000s. They may perceive these fan spaces as intimate publics, as I’ve written about elsewhere, yet they choose to allow for the possibility of visibility, for a default public culture, albeit one with intimate semi-private pockets. Indeed, the social activism of, for example, what some refer to as Tumblr feminism is part of—or at least deeply connected to—this fan performance of fandom as an expansive mode of engagement with something important to share and spread.
Who Are Millennial Fans?: An Interview with Louisa Stein (Part One)
Fan fiction archives’ mission is to preserve all fan works for all fans, not to judge which are “worth” saving and which are not worthy. Fan critics can debate which fan works, in any given universe, are the “best,” but fan archivists strive to preserve all of the works, as much as they can - because they value their fandoms as important and significant living cultural communities, and they feel that every corner of their cultures is worth safeguarding.
Abigail de Kosnik, in Why Study Fan Archives: An Interview with Abigail De Kosnik (Part One) ift.tt/2eB5H7g
Founded in 2003, Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng (the Jinjiang City of Literature, hereafter Jinjiang) (www.jjwxc.net/) proclaims itself to be the largest female cyberlit platform in the world, with 93 percent of its over 7 million registered members being women (JJWXC n.d.; Feng 2009; Xu and Yang 2013). BL fan fics, or danmei tongren (from the Japanese words tanbi, “addicted to beauty,” and dōjinshi), are listed side by side with yanqing (heterosexual romance) as two major genres on the Web site, where male-male love is treated as another form of romantic relationship. Jinjiang is one of the major platforms for online distribution of Chinese BL fiction where people pay the authors in order to read their favorite titles, often with the first few chapters free, while the Web site charges a commission for each subscription. (…) Jinjiang also helps build connections between novelists and publishers to facilitate commercial publication of popular yanqing titles. BL fiction with homosexual content, however, often cannot pass the censors to be legally published in China, even as niche publications.
Iron Man in Chinese boys’ love fandom: A story untold | John Wei | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2clFc3l
In Sweden, older siblings are generally the ones who introduce younger siblings to various fandoms, such as digital games and fan fiction sites, thus further conflating online and real-life relationships (Swedish Media Council 2013a, 2013b; Olin-Scheller 2011).
Technological advancement, English proficiency, and fandom activities are all closely interrelated. However, being connected to the Internet and being heavily involved in digital fan activities do not necessarily imply that one’s main focus is international. Instead, digital activities are associated with closeness, both in terms of relationships (friends sitting on the same couch when going online) and geographical locations (attending local cosplay or gaming conventions). This way of being and acting as a fan is likely not limited to Sweden or Swedish fan communities; it is probably also the case in other areas with ubiquitous Internet access and English-language proficiency.
A connected country: Sweden—Fertile ground for digital fandoms | Christina Olin-Scheller and Pia Sundqvist | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2cBHqK4
As part of my geography project, I am looking at factors of change in a community. I’m looking at the effect of Internet on the fandom, but I’m not old enough to know any fandom pre-Internet.
I’m hoping for some information on how fandom has been shaped and is being shaped by the Internet, whether it be higher visibility, easier access, different forms of fanworks gaining prominence, archives and more gathered communities etc.
I have looked at Fanlore, but since for this project I need primary as well as secondary sources, I was hoping to fulfil that requirement here.
Thank you so much.
Hi Aileen, do you mean you’re looking to hear from fans about their own experiences?
By the way, there are also a lot of other good secondary sources on this topic besides Fanlore, for instance academic work. Are you looking for that sort of thing as well?
Upon the appearance of Web 2.0 sites like YouTube or DeviantART (and especially their explicitly Japanese counterparts NicoNico Dōga and Pixiv) one might think that Comic Market as a physical and costly event would suffer from losing its monopoly on being the center of Japanese fan art. But once again Comike was the beneficiary of a new fan praxis: attendance reached new heights in 2007 (well over 500,000 people), a year without any outstandingly popular property to attract new visitors. It seems that dōjinshi circles are not switching entirely to the Internet but rather are using it as an informational and marketing platform for themselves and their creations, spreading the knowledge of and fascination with Comic Market to new spheres. The best example of this phenomenon is the already-mentioned Tōhō Project, which became popular mostly through Web 2.0 outlets.
Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p243 ift.tt/2b3bhsP
So if being online is so important to fanfiction, why has Amazon not adopted this central mechanism which could have drawn millions of views to its own online site? One reason may simply be that they are relying on sites like Wattpad to generate the traffic to Kindle Worlds. The other may have to do with content control. The plural “Worlds” in Kindle Worlds marks a clear separation between the different fanbases; there will be no boundary crossing here. For fanfiction, boundary crossing of various types is the point. Trying to constrain the unconstrainable is an inherent paradox in a model based on content control. Of course, one way to attempt to control content/text is to contain it in a book rather than have it online where control is always subject to slippage. However, the existence of Fanfiction itself undermines this attempt. Amazon and the licensors have a difficult balancing act. Most licensors would want to retain control over the content that appears online and therefore restrict official content, whether it be original or fan-generated, to their own fan sites; it might indeed be very difficult to keep the licensed Worlds separate in one online environment. So one could argue that the “form” of the ebook in this case, where online would normally be the “native” medium, answers primarily the needs of the licensors rather than those of the fans and readers. This is not to say that Kindle Worlds shouldn’t have ebooks; even in the fanfiction communities, people create ebooks of fanfics for free download. It is the fact that Kindle Worlds appears to be only about ebooks that is the issue in the context of fanfiction. Anna von Veh, Kindle Worlds: Bringing Fanfiction Into Line But Not Online?
I haven’t had time to read any of the articles yet, but it sounds like there’s some very interesting stuff in here about many fandoms and fan practices – from Doctor Who,Glee, and Star Wars to Tumblr, kink memes, fandom and politics, and dojinshi. Here’s a list of all the fan-themed articles in the issue (all links go to PDFs):
Yes, much of fanfiction revolves around romance and ‘M-rated’ stories (and there’s a whole book to be written about that). However, focusing only on the subject matter and traditional boundary issues obscures what fanfiction has to offer us as publishers: a model for community engagement, online interaction between readers, writers and publishers, and a new way of thinking about and doing business.
It has often struck me that stories are the universal language of Web 2.0, and I think the importance of participatory audiences is the reason why. The giant metanarrative of fan fiction is not unlike the interweaving strands of open source projects such as Wikipedia, or the memes of Anonymous (the self-adopted name of a loose coalition of Internet users organizing and acting anonymously, probably best known for protesting against Scientology) and social networking in general, all of which enable and value multiple points of view.
Fanfiction sits at the margins of mainstream creative endeavour, and interrogates established views of what it means to be a writer; the meaning of intellectual property, creativity, originality, ‘ownership;’ and traditional boundaries surrounding these concepts, as well as the whole vexed issue of international rights. As a publishing person and daughter of an artist, I have an uneasy relationship with how fanfiction steps on these well-established fences, particularly with regards to the fanfiction based on novels, rather than TV or films. (The latter seems more ‘legitimate,’ but that might just be justification for my own interest.)
In many ways, fanfiction is, and has been for many years, ahead of its time in terms of its embrace of the possibilities and potential of digital technology, of community and niche interests, its very questioning of established domains of knowledge and ‘right/s,’ and its acknowledgement of the role reading plays in writing. As Saul Bellow said, “A writer is a reader moved to emulation.” The leaching of boundaries described above is exemplified by the infinite trail of hyperlinks on the web (Derrida anyone?). It is therefore apt that fanfiction should exist online, and make use of the technology that allows deferment of meaning and certainty; a metaphorical and literal leaking of content from the container (…).
Before the mass media, people actively engaged with culture through storytelling and expanding well-known tales. Modern fan culture connects to this historical tradition, and has become a force that challenges social norms and accepted behavior. Whether the issue is gender, sexuality, subversiveness, or even intellectual property law, fans participate in communities that allow them to think outside of what is possible in more mainstream scenarios. “Fannish” behavior has become its own grassroots way of altering our society and culture, and a means of actively experiencing one’s own culture. In a sense, fans have changed from the faceless adoring masses, to people who are proud of their identity and are stretching the boundaries of what is considered “normal”.
Fanfiction as digital Text also embodies a paradox: it harks back to the days of Dickens in the way it is written and ‘published,’ and it shows a potential path for mainstream trade digital publishing.
Fanfiction shows that the web need not be just a technology for making or distributing books (e-books and print), or for social marketing, but a home, distribution and communication technology for long-form narrative content itself. Fanfiction and its fans take the web seriously; it is the default mode, not an afterthought. The online platform means that readers can be based anywhere in the world and are defined by their interest in the particular fandom and genre, rather than by their own geographical or political location. Might is not right in this environment. The idea that someone might limit the right to read a fanfiction to a particular region or country would be regarded as ludicrous and tantamount to abusive behaviour towards readers. There is a lesson here too for publishers.
The difference between mailing lists and LiveJournal as media for fannish discussion can best be understood in terms of focus. With the exception of author-centered lists (often used only for the posting of fiction, with perhaps the occasional discussion), mailing lists were organized around a particular topic. That topic might be as broad as “all things relating to this show” or as narrow as “fans in this region who want to talk about this pairing,” and posts not on that topic were highly discouraged (note 2). Perhaps most crucially, with the exception of a few multifandom lists (including the early Virgule list and the Symposium offshoot, FCA-L, groups.yahoo.com/group/fca-l/), mailing lists tended to be focused tightly on specific fandoms. Different lists would often have members in common, but discussion bled from one list to another only rarely.
LiveJournal, in contrast, is made up of many interconnected spaces, most of which are focused on individual people. On any given fan’s LiveJournal, she herself is the topic, choosing what to discuss or not discuss. Even LiveJournal communities sometimes serve only as link repositories, taking a reader back to a poster’s individual journal. The impact of this shift has been profound, and in many ways it has served to take the focus off the source and put it on the fan, and in turn, on fandom.
Finally, the globalization of media fandom is also driven by consumers’ mobilization and coordination of intellectual capacities to mediate foreign cultural texts. Utilizing their own resources and skills, members of the fandom are willing to and capable of carrying out mediated copying and distribution. The work involved, such as copying, translating, editing, encoding, distributing and managing, is spread between voluntary participants who are closely connected via online communications. The availability of relevant free software is crucial in their work process. The final product of the fans’ labour is distributed via globally connected peer-to-peer file sharing networks. An important issue here is that the fans themselves carry out previously commercially organized mediation processes non-commercially. Their activity blurs the existing distinction between production and consumption and problematize the boundary of cultural business (Green and Jenkins, 2009; Jenkins, 2006). These participatory consumers ‘co-create’ consumer values in mediated cultural texts and share control over the text with the industries to a certain degree (Banks and Deuze, 2009; Cova and Daili, 2009; Deuze, 2007). This phenomenon can also be conceptualized within the framework of ‘free labour’ that sees consumers’ voluntary, unpaid labour as essential to the economic logic of the knowledge/information-driven society (Gill and Pratt, 2008; Terranova, 2004). However, what is more interesting about fan-translation and distribution is that it represents a new model of cultural work that cannot simply be imitated by the industries’ commercial operation. Driven by fans’ love for the chosen medium, the work is unpaid, self-organized and decentralized. It can be done on a 24/7 basis, utilizing enthusiastic fans who regard it as a hobby, not work, and operate from different time zones. The time and space condensation achieved by fan activities aptly demonstrates the noticeable gap between the globalization of participatory media fandom and that of cultural industries’ distribution business.
A thesis written about the AO3’s tagging system “attempts to begin exploring the question of what kind of environment the site’s particular blend of open social tagging and some behind-the-scenes vocabulary control, plus hierarchical linking, creates for the users who search through it for fiction.” The study, conducted in 2012, had a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods and the survey was completed by 116 people. “The current online information glut calls for some sort of subject labeling to facilitate efficiency in searching, but the volume of information is well beyond a size that could ever be dealt with by information professionals. “Social tagging” is an approach to this problem that lets non-professionals attempt to organize online information via tagging, for their own and one another’s use. But social tagging is a new and rapidly evolving field, and so no consensus has yet been reached on its overall usefulness, or on what best practices might be.”
I have no time at all to read this right now – any interesting findings or ideas in there?
We tend to see fandom as a single cohesive unit, because we are part of a unit within fandom, and we think fandom is our unit—and some people think fandom reflects the real beliefs of people who aren’t in fandom, as well. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Without even touching on the world outside of fandom, fandom itself is wider and louder and more diverse than any one person generally suspects.
Similarly, fansubbing has been regarded as an equivalent for TV. In the anime industry context, the role of TV is crucial in nurturing consumer demand for DVDs. For example, the Japanese anime industry witnesses fans normally testing the anime via TV viewing and then deciding on their purchase of DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs (my interview with two commentators from the Japanese anime industry). Hence, Japanese anime producers have traditionally treated TV broadcasting as a form of advertising. While lamenting the lack of TV coverage of anime in the United States, English fansubbers see their activity as serving as free promotion. Interestingly, this aspect of fansubbing was widely acknowledged by the US anime industry. Until recently, the industry was generally nonchalant towards fansubbing but tended to agree on its viral marketing and market tester aspects.
Witnessing the expansion of digital fansubbing and the ubiquity of fansubbed anime on the Internet, the industry has broken its silence and begun challenging fansubbing’s legitimacy. It now defines fansubbing as piracy, and asks fans to stop making and using fansubs (Smith 2007).