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labor

[QUOTE] From Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor

For example, the video game industry has long been working to blur the line between labor and play in their own ranks by recruiting fans as beta testers for games that are about to be released. Companies routinely emphasize the benefits and the prestige associated with early access: alpha and beta testers are said to have the ear of game makers, to be influential in shaping the final product. Similar rhetoric abounds in recruitment materials aimed at young workers looking to break into the industry.

Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor ift.tt/1sxoYCp

[QUOTE] From Tisha Turk, Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom’s gift economy

Generally speaking, media fandom operates on a labor theory of value—not necessarily in the Marxist sense of the phrase, but in the sense that value derives from work. Fandom’s gift economy assigns special worth to “gifts of time and skill” (Hellekson 2009, 115), gifts made by fans for fans. The worth of these gifts lies not simply in the content of the gift, nor in the social gesture of giving, but in the labor that went into their creation. Commercially purchased gifts, such as the virtual cupcakes and balloons that can be purchased in the LiveJournal shop, may be given and appreciated, but will generally be worth less, in the context of fandom, than gifts made by the giver (note 2). This labor theory of value is often invisible or unarticulated until something goes wrong: a site skin doesn’t work as anticipated, a vid is plagiarized, a story in progress—or an entire archive—is abandoned. These events remind us that our experience of fandom depends on the labor of others: “A gift is a thing we do not get by our own efforts. We cannot buy it; we cannot acquire it through an act of will. It is bestowed upon us” (Hyde 1979, xi).

Tisha Turk, Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom’s gift economy ift.tt/1g9d3Vi

[QUOTE] From Bethan Jones, Fifty Shades of fan labor: Exploitation and Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades complicates the concept of prosumption, however, as (E.L.) James “built a following within a community founded in part on the explicit rejection of monetary gain in favor of fannish love, and then used that community and the work it helped her to produce in order to make a name—and a fair amount of money—in mainstream publishing” (Wanenchak 2012). James thus straddles the line between producer and fan, stealing from commodified culture to create Master of the Universe while stealing from fandom to make a success of Fifty Shades. The question of whether James’s fans would have been so involved in supporting and reviewing her work if they were aware that their efforts would result in her profit—although ultimately unanswerable—is nevertheless a valid one, and I would suggest that these debates suggest a subtle change in the relationship between fan and producer. From being in a position of cultural marginality where they poach from texts, fans are now the ones potentially being poached from (Andrejevic 2008; Milner 2009).

Bethan Jones, Fifty Shades of fan labor: Exploitation and Fifty Shades of Grey ift.tt/1kEIfyT

[QUOTE] From Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor

One major issue in the 2007–8 Writers Guild of America strike was an insistence that Web content was creative work and was thus eligible to be paid at creative rates, rather than promotional work that creators were obligated to participate in for free (Gray 2010; Leaver 2013; Russo 2010). The kinds of paratexts or pieces of ancillary content that were at stake in the WGA strike are quite like what fans produce, and turning to fans rather than paid staff for such work thus looks increasingly good for the bottom line. After all, even against the baseline of declining labor strength in Hollywood, fan work is a bargain for industry.

Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor ift.tt/PrPe4z

[QUOTE] From Tisha Turk, Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom’s gift economy

The phrase fan work is typically used, by both fans and academics, in the sense of work of art; it refers to fan fiction, fan vids, fan art. Within fandom, these objects are “the main focus of most discussion outside of the show itself” and are “highly prized” because they “require some level of artistry to master” (Sabotini 1999). They are the objects, and thus the labors, most likely to be publicly assigned value (in the form of comments, kudos, likes, reblogs, recommendations, etc.) by other fans and to be studied by academics.

But there are many other forms of fan work, including work that does not necessarily result in objects for recirculation. Media fandom runs on the engine of production, but much of what we produce is not art but information, discussion, architecture, access, resources, metadata. Think about all the behind-the-scenes labor, for example, that goes into commenting on stories, beta-ing vids, writing essays and recommendations, reviewing and screen-capping episodes, collecting links, tagging bookmarks, maintaining Dreamwidth and LiveJournal communities, organizing fests/challenges/exchanges, compiling newsletters, making costumes, animating .gif sets, creating user icons, recording podfic, editing zines, assembling fan mixes, administering kink memes, running awards sites, converting popular stories to e-book formats, coding archives, updating wikis, populating databases, building vid conversion software, planning conventions, volunteering at conventions, moderating convention panels—and the list could go on.

Such activities and their outcomes tend to be less discussed and commended, in both fannish and academic circles, than fandom’s “traditional gifts,” even though in many cases these activities facilitate the creation of art objects or provide the infrastructure that enables the dissemination and discussion of those objects. The sheer volume of fan work, in the inclusive sense of the phrase, necessitates further fannish labor; the navigation of online fandom is made possible by the creation of metadata, access points, links, and so on: important though sometimes underacknowledged work. These labors, too, are gifts.

Tisha Turk, Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom’s gift economy

[QUOTE] From Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor

It is now well established that watching television can usefully be conceptualized as work (Jhally and Livant 1986; Smythe 1977), and a labor framing has been applied to user-generated content by critical media studies scholars (Andrejevic 2009; Fuchs 2012; Hesmondhalgh 2010). However, fans have not often been approached this way. This disjuncture partially comes from the fact that fan activity is both by all appearances freely chosen and understood as pleasure, neither of which is typically associated with work. Instead, fan action has been framed as being active or participatory, and while these conceptualizations have been productive, when the lens of labor is applied, unique and crucial questions come into view.

To speak of labor is to attend to the value fans generate—an antidote to surprisingly tenacious notions of fan activity as a valueless pleasure. Once we have conceptualized fan work as generating value, we can also inquire into how that value is distributed and whether work circulating between fans in gift economies or among fans and industry is potentially exploited labor. This special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures takes the premise that if fans are a vital part of the new economy, then we have to take the economy part as seriously as the vital part.

Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor

[QUOTE] From Hye-Kyung Lee, Participatory media fandom: A case study of anime fansubbing

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.

mcs.sagepub.com/content/33/8/1131.abstract

[QUOTE] From Bertha Chin, The Veronica Mars Movie: crowdfunding – or fan-funding – at its best?

This also brings to light some people’s uneasiness and concern that money raised through this (Veronica Mars) Kickstarter project is not going towards an indie project, but instead towards a studio film that Warner Bros is essentially too cheap to finance. It obviously brings up question of fan labour and the monetisation of fans, which big conglomerates (such as the Disney-backed Fanlib years ago) have been trying to tap into. And it’s precisely why this post is being written.

While I think it’s a valid point to bring up the issue of fan labour (or investment in this case?), and whether the success of this funding campaign [1] might prompt other media conglomerates to start seeking funding for other ventures this way, we must not forget at the very core of this, is the fans. EW is currently running a poll asking fans which other TV series they would fund for a film, while X-Files fans are asking if 20th Century Fox is paying attention to this campaign, and if a similar thing can be done to get a 3rd film green-lighted. Ultimately, fans choose to fund this project, and this is the voice that’s missing in some of the concerns raised; that somehow fans need to be educated that they’re financing a studio film, so they’re not actually doing anything for the so-called greater good.

(…)

Frustratingly, fan agency always gets left out in arguments which purports concern that fans are being duped by studios and networks. Perhaps, rather than assuming that fans are being duped into donating towards a studio film, thought should be given to implications the success of this campaign might bring to Hollywood’s system; or more importantly, the power fans can wield if they decide a Veronica Mars movie is deserving to be made.

onoffscreen.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/the-veronica-mars-movie-crowdfunding-or-fan-funding-at-its-best/

[QUOTE] From tishaturk, fandom: best vs. favorite

As a side note, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into reccing, reblogging, running awards sites, administering prompt memes, tagging for meme archives, etc., is why I get so frustrated with definitions of “fan work” that focus primarily on writing fic and making vids and ignore or handwave all the other kinds of work that make my daily fannish experience what it is. Fandom runs on the engine of production, but a lot of what we produce is information, architecture, access, not just artifacts.

tishaturk.dreamwidth.org/12398.html