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[META] “In a criminal case, if you are charged with an assault, the state incurs the cost of your defense,…”

“In a criminal case, if you are charged with an assault, the state incurs the cost of your defense, should you be unable to provide one for yourself. In a civil case, no matter which side you are on, you always incur the legal costs yourself. Large media companies, the ones actually engaging in legal action (NOT the creators), often have to do little more than threaten a lawsuit (or send a cease and desist letter) to elicit the desired behavior, even if they think they can’t win in court, because they know the defendant lacks the financial resources to defend him/herself and will thus back off, even if legally they are not obliged to do so. Scanlators generally cannot defend themselves and often lack the necessary legal knowledge (or access to a professional) so as to ascertain which legal threats have teeth and which do not. There may be ways of doing scanlation without express permission that do not violate copyright; it’s likely we will never know what they are, since the publishers hold (nearly) all the cards.”

Ba Zi, 9a. Copyright, Scanlation, and the Ethics of Unfettered Reading

[QUOTE] From Ba Zi, 9a. Copyright, Scanlation, and the Ethics of Unfettered Reading

In a criminal case, if you are charged with an assault, the state incurs the cost of your defense, should you be unable to provide one for yourself. In a civil case, no matter which side you are on, you always incur the legal costs yourself. Large media companies, the ones actually engaging in legal action (NOT the creators), often have to do little more than threaten a lawsuit (or send a cease and desist letter) to elicit the desired behavior, even if they think they can’t win in court, because they know the defendant lacks the financial resources to defend him/herself and will thus back off, even if legally they are not obliged to do so. Scanlators generally cannot defend themselves and often lack the necessary legal knowledge (or access to a professional) so as to ascertain which legal threats have teeth and which do not. There may be ways of doing scanlation without express permission that do not violate copyright; it’s likely we will never know what they are, since the publishers hold (nearly) all the cards.

Ba Zi, 9a. Copyright, Scanlation, and the Ethics of Unfettered Reading ift.tt/2aD6b7G

[LINK] An Archive of Their Own: A Case Study of Feminist HCI and Values in Design (CHI 2016)

ift.tt/1SgE54y

cfiesler:

In which my study about the design of AO3 not only gets into the big publication venue in my field, but also wins a major award. Fandom is amazing, and I want all the computing scholars to know it, too!

The link in this post is to my blog post about the paper, which is the TL;DR version. But here’s an even more TL;DR version, i.e., what I think is most interesting to fans about this work. (Disclaimer: I’ve been on the legal committee of OTW since 2009, but this work was entirely independent of them! I also didn’t screen potential study participants for any particular attitudes towards OTW or the archive.)

Why did you study AO3? My dissertation was largely about social norms about copyright in online creative communities. I interviewed a lot of fan creators over a few years, and when we talked about copyright norms around things like attribution, remixing remixes, etc., a lot of people mentioned specific AO3 design features. I’ve been following AO3 closely since it’s very beginnings, and I know that there’s something really unique and amazing about it: It’s a massively successful online platform built completely by the people who needed it, built to reflect their values and norms. And the majority of those builders have been women. It’s amazing! And I thought, there is probably something that designers can learn from this.

So for this study I (with the help of an undergraduate research assistant) interviewed a bunch of AO3 users, as well as people who worked on the development of the archive in the early days. And by the way: THANK YOU TUMBLR because I had so many volunteers that I had to turn people away. Trust me, this never happens. All my colleagues were super jealous. I was like, well, you guys really should study fans because they’re awesome.

What is feminist HCI? First, HCI is human-computer interaction, so welcome to my discipline! And feminist HCI (here’s the paper about it!) is the idea that a lot of the central commitments of feminism – like empowerment, agency, equity, participation, identity, advocacy, social justice – are great things to integrate into interaction design. Imagine if all of these things were really important to the people building the technologies that you use!

So how does this apply to AO3? Talking to folks about AO3 made it clear that a lot of the values that were baked into the design are the same values at the core of feminist HCI. For example, participation: this is the entire reason that AO3 exists, so that fans themselves have control over their own space. And accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity – there are so many little design decisions towards these things, an attempt to try to make sure that not only does everyone have the ability to use the site, but that everyone feels welcome. One of my favorite quotes: “If you think you’re a fan, then you’re a fan, and you’re welcome here.” And also, the tagging system at AO3 is pretty amazing – not only did most of the users I talked to speak at length about how this improves over other sites they’ve used, but also the user-created folksonomy means that the archive doesn’t make content judgments. You can use any tag you want, and this actually becomes a pretty powerful thing because even a system picking categories for you to choose from (e.g., gender or relationship options on social networking sites) is an exercise of power. And the way that AO3 handles identity and pseudonyms is pretty nuanced, too. It all adds up to many small things that users really seem to appreciate. (The image below is from the Tag Wranglers page on Fanlore – this is in my paper, so it’s probably the only CHI paper to have the phrase “mermaid!sex” in it.)

And what did you learn? Besides just presenting AO3 as a case study of feminist HCI as successful, there are also some useful lessons for designing to reconcile competing values. After all, fandom doesn’t always agree on priorities! This of course is a huge problem in lots of contexts – the idea that you can’t please everyone. And of course, not all of AO3′s design or policy choices have been popular over the years. But there are a few things that AO3 does to mitigate some of these value tensions. For example, fan history is important! It sucks when archives disappear (Geocities anyone???) and all those stories you loved are just gone forever. But control is also important! If you want to wipe your fannish identity off the face of the earth, you should be able to do that. So AO3 has orphaning, which lets you erase your name/identity/footprint from fics while not erasing the fic forever. Another example is the content warning system, which was a compromise between the desire to not cast judgment on content (”your kink is not my kink but I will defend it!”) as long as it’s legal, and the desire to protect people from stuff that they don’t want to see or is triggering. Of course, this solution isn’t perfect, and some of my interview participants talked about wanting a “tag blacklist” to help even more. But in short: AO3 does some cool and thoughtful design things that are interesting to people studying HCI.

So now what! Well, I’m a professor now, and I hope to keep studying these sorts of things. I’m interested in feminism and women in technology (remember the Barbie remix? Yeah that was me, I was Internet famous for about a day), online communities and especially fandom, and social norms and law. If you want to know if I do more studies of fans in the future, you can follow me here or on Twitter. Because can’t stop won’t stop writing!

Finally, thank you to everyone who participated, volunteered, or shared, because this kind of work isn’t possible without awesome people to talk to. And you can read the full paper at the link at the top of this post!

[META] An Archive of Their Own: A Case Study of Feminist HCI and Values in Design (CHI 2016)

An Archive of Their Own: A Case Study of Feminist HCI and Values in Design (CHI 2016):

cfiesler:

In which my study about the design of AO3 not only gets into the big publication venue in my field, but also wins a major award. Fandom is amazing, and I want all the computing scholars to know it, too!  

The link in this post is to my blog post about the paper, which is the TL;DR version. But here’s an even more TL;DR version, i.e., what I think is most interesting to fans about this work. (Disclaimer: I’ve been on the legal committee of OTW since 2009, but this work was entirely independent of them! I also didn’t screen potential study participants for any particular attitudes towards OTW or the archive.)

Why did you study AO3? My dissertation was largely about social norms about copyright in online creative communities. I interviewed a lot of fan creators over a few years, and when we talked about copyright norms around things like attribution, remixing remixes, etc., a lot of people mentioned specific AO3 design features. I’ve been following AO3 closely since it’s very beginnings, and I know that there’s something really unique and amazing about it: It’s a massively successful online platform built completely by the people who needed it, built to reflect their values and norms. And the majority of those builders have been women. It’s amazing! And I thought, there is probably something that designers can learn from this. 

image

So for this study I (with the help of an undergraduate research assistant) interviewed a bunch of AO3 users, as well as people who worked on the development of the archive in the early days. And by the way: THANK YOU TUMBLR because I had so many volunteers that I had to turn people away. Trust me, this never happens. All my colleagues were super jealous. I was like, well, you guys really should study fans because they’re awesome.

What is feminist HCI?  First, HCI is human-computer interaction, so welcome to my discipline! And feminist HCI (here’s the paper about it!) is the idea that a lot of the central commitments of feminism – like empowerment, agency, equity, participation, identity, advocacy, social justice – are great things to integrate into interaction design. Imagine if all of these things were really important to the people building the technologies that you use!

image

So how does this apply to AO3? Talking to folks about AO3 made it clear that a lot of the values that were baked into the design are the same values at the core of feminist HCI. For example, participation: this is the entire reason that AO3 exists, so that fans themselves have control over their own space. And accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity – there are so many little design decisions towards these things, an attempt to try to make sure that not only does everyone have the ability to use the site, but that everyone feels welcome. One of my favorite quotes: “If you think you’re a fan, then you’re a fan, and you’re welcome here.” And also, the tagging system at AO3 is pretty amazing – not only did most of the users I talked to speak at length about how this improves over other sites they’ve used, but also the user-created folksonomy means that the archive doesn’t make content judgments. You can use any tag you want, and this actually becomes a pretty powerful thing because even a system picking categories for you to choose from (e.g., gender or relationship options on social networking sites) is an exercise of power. And the way that AO3 handles identity and pseudonyms is pretty nuanced, too. It all adds up to many small things that users really seem to appreciate. (The image below is from the Tag Wranglers page on Fanlore – this is in my paper, so it’s probably the only CHI paper to have the phrase “mermaid!sex” in it.)

image

And what did you learn? Besides just presenting AO3 as a case study of feminist HCI as successful, there are also some useful lessons for designing to reconcile competing values. After all, fandom doesn’t always agree on priorities! This of course is a huge problem in lots of contexts – the idea that you can’t please everyone. And of course, not all of AO3′s design or policy choices have been popular over the years. But there are a few things that AO3 does to mitigate some of these value tensions. For example, fan history is important! It sucks when archives disappear (Geocities anyone???) and all those stories you loved are just gone forever. But control is also important! If you want to wipe your fannish identity off the face of the earth, you should be able to do that. So AO3 has orphaning, which lets you erase your name/identity/footprint from fics while not erasing the fic forever. Another example is the content warning system, which was a compromise between the desire to not cast judgment on content (”your kink is not my kink but I will defend it!”) as long as it’s legal, and the desire to protect people from stuff that they don’t want to see or is triggering. Of course, this solution isn’t perfect, and some of my interview participants talked about wanting a “tag blacklist” to help even more. But in short: AO3 does some cool and thoughtful design things that are interesting to people studying HCI.

So now what!  Well, I’m a professor now, and I hope to keep studying these sorts of things. I’m interested in feminism and women in technology (remember the Barbie remix? Yeah that was me, I was Internet famous for about a day), online communities and especially fandom, and social norms and law. If you want to know if I do more studies of fans in the future, you can follow me here or on Twitter. Because can’t stop won’t stop writing!

image

Finally, thank you to everyone who participated, volunteered, or shared, because this kind of work isn’t possible without awesome people to talk to. And you can read the full paper at the link at the top of this post!

image

[META] Seven new essays on transcultural fandom

Via @tea-and-liminality: “For anyone interested, there’s a new themed section on transcultural fandom up at the online journal Participations, with the following essays:

Chin, Bertha & Lori Hitchcock Morimoto:
Introduction

Driessen, Simone:
Larger than life: exploring the transcultural fan practices of the Dutch Backstreet Boys fandom

Devereux, Eoin & Melissa Hidalgo:
“You’re gonna need someone on your side”: Morrissey’s Latino/a and Chicano/a fans

Noppe, Nele:
Mechanisms of control in online fanwork sales: A comparison of Kindle Worlds and Dlsite.com

Ryan, Ciarán:
Music fanzine collecting as capital accumulation

Promkhuntong, Wikanda:
Cinephiles, music fans and film auteur(s): Transcultural taste cultures surrounding mashups of Wong Kar-wai’s movies on YouTube

van de Goor, Sophie Charlotte:
“You must be new here”: Reinforcing the good fan

[META] problem area: can organizing fan activities by fandoms be a problem?

fandomthennow:

image

Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I’ll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I’ll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here using the #fandomthennow tag or posting on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week we’re onto popular fandoms and stories.

In the past few posts I’ve been talking about popular stories from the 2008 survey and the fandoms they were connected to. Today, I want to continue discussing some issues I had when I began compiling popular stories by individual fandoms.

[This post picks right up on my previous one which you can read here.]

[My previous post] gets at an issue I struggle with in Fan Studies and part of the reason why my research is interested in looking beyond individual fandoms themselves and looking instead at the romantic and thematic connections in fan fiction. When talking about fans and fan practices, we often use a show, film, game, or franchise as the label for fans. (And, of course, fans self-identify in this way as well.) However, when we do this we are prioritizing the product in how we organize and conceptualize fan activities. This has the effect of positioning consumption as the organizing principle for fan culture. A move which may limit our view of fan networks.

This model seems to become particularly strained when it comes to certain forms of fan fiction. What the 2008 survey results tell me is that while many fans use fandom titles as a keyterm they can tag content with, input into user profiles, and search databases for, fans do not cohesively and harmoniously organize themselves within these clusters. Some fans of Supernatural may read slash, gen, het, and RPS fic interchangeably, but many of them stick to the story category they are most interested in instead. Indeed, fans of one type of story may have no interest at all in other types of stories within that fandom.

More than half of the 2008 survey respondents were participating in multiple fandoms at a time. This raises the possibility that many fans are seeking out various types of stories across multiple fandoms. Each time we identify one of these “multi-fannish” fans as solely a Harry Potter fan, a Doctor Who fan, etc. we’re framing the fan experience in a way that a) risks distorting how certain individuals are participating in fan cultures and b) leaves us blind to the broader and highly complex networks connecting fans to each other and to fan works.

Since fans often rely on their social networks to help them find new stories, many fans’ social networks are built around broader cross-fandom interests, in addition to any preferences specific to a single fandom. In terms of a fan’s overall experience, the “-dom” in fandom may be far less tied to a media product/franchise and far more tied to a character archetype, a kind of relationship, a mode of content, etc. Clearly, slash is one example of this broader view of fan culture, one that fans are well aware of. Slash has long operated as both a pairing category within individual fandoms and a larger interest area organizing fans socially across fandoms. But, here’s where this might get more complicated: Slash fans have had sense of a larger group identity for some time, but slash itself has experienced a great deal of stigma over the years. It is a reading category that, until recently, was harder to find in commercial literature. These are some of the many reasons why being a “slasher” might carry a stronger sense of cross-fandom group identity in ways that other reading interests do not.

What do you think about fandom labels? Do you prefer to identify your interests by fandom? Pairing? Favorite character? Do you find yourself sticking to one fandom at a time or do you seem to seek out similar types of stories, characters, or relationship dynamics across fandoms?

Read the full write up on popular fandoms and stories here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here using the #fandomthennow tag.

Announcing the Fandom Then/Now Webproject

image

For many people, fan fiction is as much a part of their reading as commercial literature. Fan fiction websites and archives provide readers with novels, serials, novellas, romantic and erotic stories, non-romantic stories, experimental literature, video and visual art, etc. While fan writers and readers are certainly not exclusively interested in romance, fan writing frequently explores the romantic potential between two characters and fan fiction is often built on romantic foundations. The shift to digital publishing and reading is having a dramatic impact on commercial romance literature. However, what about the kinds of romantic and erotic stories fans produce? How is fan work being affected by the rise in digital publishing? The Fandom Then/Now project is designed to facilitate fan conversations and collect ideas from fans about fan fiction’s past and future.

What do you notice in the data from 2008? What do you think about the intersections between fan fiction and romantic storytelling? Now, in 2014, what has and hasn’t changed about fans’ reading and writing practices?

Please visit the Fandom Then/Now website to look at the project and share your thoughts.

[META] The censorship problems faced by anime and manga fans

For fans of manga, anime, and other Japanese media, pointing and laughing at inaccurate mass media portrayals of Japanese pop culture has been something of a sport for decades. A few weeks ago, however, things took a slightly more serious turn.

The ball got rolling when early in June, the Japanese House of Representatives approved a long-overdue law banning the possession of child pornography. Up to now, creating and distributing child pornography was as forbidden in Japan as anywhere else, but “simple possession” had not yet been criminalized. The new law applies only to “real” child pornography and leaves alone completely fictional depictions of underage characters in sexual situations in manga, anime and other media. This exception came about after vocal protests from manga publishers, creators, fans and free speech rights activists. The story was widely reported in non-Japanese media. However, most of these reports focused on handwringing about Japan’s “failure” to clamp down on sexually explicit manga. Most shared was a CNN article filled with outrage about how the new law supposedly permits Japanese bookstores to fill their shelves with shocking cartoon porn about children. (more…)

[META] acafanmom: I would also like to make a plug for this essay in TWC: Fitting Glee in your mailbox – ….

acafanmom:

I would also like to make a plug for this essay in TWC:

Fitting Glee in your mailbox – . wordplay

This is the kind of fan-produced writing we solicit for the Symposium section of TWC. If you look it over, you’ll find that it’s reflective, but very much grounded in the writers own fan experiences – that’s the kind of thing we’re looking for. Writing that speaks to the broader experience of fandom – that puts it into some kind of context, that seeks to understand it a bit better. If you have a piece of writing you’d like to submit, or if you have an idea you want to bounce off of us, please contact TWC or just PM/ask me, and I can help get you started. :)

Yes!

[META] destinationtoast: 221B Con Fandom Stats slides: Master post Presented by destinationtoast, strangelock, and penns-woods – April 2014 Part 1: Why Stats Part 2: Popularity of Sherlock Holmes in fandom Part 3: Genres of fanfiction Part 4: Shipping and (a)sexuality Part 5: Response to Sherlock Series 3 Full slide deck (you can view the details of slides more easily here)

destinationtoast:

221B Con Fandom Stats slides: Master post

Presented by destinationtoast, strangelock, and penns-woods – April 2014

Part 1: Why Stats

Part 2: Popularity of Sherlock Holmes in fandom

Part 3: Genres of fanfiction

Part 4: Shipping and (a)sexuality

Part 5: Response to Sherlock Series 3

Full slide deck (you can view the details of slides more easily here)

[META] destinationtoast: 221B Con Fandom Stats slides: Master…

destinationtoast:

221B Con Fandom Stats slides: Master post

Presented by destinationtoast, strangelock, and penns-woods – April 2014

Part 1: Why Stats 

Part 2: Popularity of Sherlock Holmes in fandom

Part 3: Genres of fanfiction

Part 4: Shipping and (a)sexuality

Part 5: Response to Sherlock Series 3

Full slide deck (you can view the details of slides more easily here)

[META] Parafanfiction and Oppositional Fandom

[P]arafanfiction…refers to a particular subset of parafictional art that claims to be fanfiction of, or some other record of, an external media object that does not actually exist. The most notable examples of this are the Homestuck Anime and Squiddles, both of which are spinoffs of the actual Homestuck hypercomic. The idea with those projects is to fabricate an entire alternate reality where Homestuck is an anime and the in-comic show Squiddles actually exists. The fans participating in these projects create objects ostensibly taken directly from the shows in question—screencaps, pictures of old VHS tapes, GameBoy Advance cartridges, gif edits, and so on and so forth—in order to sell the idea that these shows actually exist. Parafanfiction and Oppositional Fandom by

[META] Artistic Freedom, or This Is Not a Review of The Hobbit

This is not a review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but I’ll share some impressions for context. Though it kept me entertained, I didn’t think it was very good. The story felt padded; the implausible action scenes lacked tension; the moralizing was often forced. But for all that, I’m glad the movie was made because it means that the narrative of Middle-earth is still alive.

Storytelling belongs to the public consciousness. All the copyright laws in the world cannot stop that being true. It is human nature to imitate: it is how we learn to talk, to dress, to be polite, to live in society. It is embedded in human nature to take in stories and breathe them out again. This is not to say there is no place for copyright. As long as we live in a nominally free market society, artists must be able to make money from their work for art to flourish, and copyright (ideally) gives them control over distribution of their work to prevent market saturation and grant them remuneration. But if copying must be restricted, the creation of art itself is naturally free: the mind flies to it as it flies to love, and no prison nor prison sentence can stop it.

One common complaint about derivative works is that they are often bad quality. And this is true. (It’s true of original works just as much.) I would argue that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, despite a great deal of talent and effort, is bad quality in many ways. It’s a legal, licensed work, but aside from giving it a big budget, that doesn’t affect whether it’s good or bad art. Likewise, some still claim fan fiction has dubious legality, but that has no bearing on whether it is brilliant or painful to read. Art is speech, and democratic society has long understood that respecting freedom of speech exposes us to reams of stupid speech. That is a very small price to pay for the freedom to share thought and learn and grow as individuals and cultures.

I don’t doubt that Tolkien would be rolling over in his grave at the excesses of the Jacksonverse. In this particular movie, I suspect he’d find the Elf-Dwarf romance ridiculous, the sex joke appallingly inappropriate, the fight scenes mostly absurd and undercutting of the quieter narrative of Bilbo’s clever heroism—and that’s just for a start. I wouldn’t be surprised if his heirs have similar feelings. I have many of the same feelings myself.

Who cares? We don’t really deserve any say in how others choose to retell a tale. I mean this as a statement about natural rights rather than gracious conduct. A gracious standard of conduct might well choose to consult with a respected original author or their heirs, might make an effort not to bruise their feelings, might listen to critiques and revise accordingly. But a narrative belongs to the mind of every person it has touched. And no one has a right (regardless of the current law of the land) to tell any person not to re-envision that narrative however they wish.

Without such re-envisioning, The Hobbit is just a novel, a good novel, written in the 1930s in Britain, growing slowly more remote from the language, tastes, and customs of the new century. Without this re-envisioning, one day it will die. And so we create new versions, and they have women and more action and additional tie-ins to The Lord of the Rings and sex jokes and a younger, sexier Thorin and a scarier Ring. And out of what might be considered the mess of this particular version, out of the sloppy, poorly paced, bad taste et cetera comes a new perspective on an old story.

I liked the scarier Ring, the almost-heavy handedness in showing its immediate hold on Bilbo, the changes in his behavior when he fears he’ll lose it. I liked the general tone of foreboding, the sense of social breakdown among the Wood Elves and the Lake Men that presages the cataclysmic War to come in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien could not have done this for the simple reason that he hadn’t yet written The Lord of the Rings when he wrote The Hobbit. Whether or not he would have done it if he had already developed the full history of the War of the Ring is moot (as an Ent would say). The story left Tolkien years ago. It is our story now. It is Peter Jackson’s. It is mine. It is yours. And as the years pass and its iterations continue to ripple out—a cartoon here, a CGI-heavy trilogy there, a radio drama, a few thousand fan fics, and who knows what—it will be reshaped by the minds it meets, often badly but perhaps one day with hammer-blow of genius that will truly reinvent it. Perhaps Tolkien has yet to meet his Shakespeare. But the tale will always be reshaped to meet the changing world it continues to speak in. And it will keep living, as art has to if the human spirit is to thrive.

Submission by Arwen Spicer

[META] Storify by Bertha Chin: tweets and pictures of the Fan Studies Network Symposium 2013

Storify by Bertha Chin: tweets and pictures of the Fan Studies Network Symposium 2013: