Henry Jenkins, ARGS, Fandom, and the Digi-Gratis Economy: An Interview with Paul Booth, author of Digital Fandom: New Media Studies (link goes to the first part of the interview; see also part 2 and part 3). Here’s a confession: I tend to think that ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) have attracted a disproportionate amount of attention in transmedia and convergence culture circles relative to their significance (my pet theory is that academics like talking about ARGs because they experience academic research as an ARG). So the last thing I was interested in hearing about was ARGs as a model and metaphor for online fandom, and I’d originally skipped this interview when it popped up in my feedreader. But the third part of the interview caught my eye, with some interesting discussion on rethinking the gift economy model of fandom, gender, and database culture. And it turns out that the whole thing is worth reading, with some detours into Doctor Who, fan fiction, and mashups.
Matt Hills in Sherlocking, Sherlock, Knowledge and Fan Sites: Speaking of database culture (and Doctor Who), Matt Hills has a nice piece on perhaps the most contemporary aspect of the new BBC series Sherlock — the displacement of mastery of specialized categories of knowledge in favor of proficiency in tracking down relevant information on the fly. Hills of course says it better: “Because in a world where all forms of knowledge can be archived and accessed via cloud computing, Conan Doyle’s provocative hierarchies of knowledge melt into air. This Holmes doesn’t need to know in advance what he needs to know, because he’s networked – he can consult digitally at the scene of the crime.” All this, plus a bonus quote from a great Franco Moretti essay! Ironically, an ensuing debate in the comments suggests that Sherlock Holmes fandom still privileges the contrasting mode of authority through encyclopedic command of canon….
Louisa Stein in Antenna, Mad Men vs. Sherlock – What Makes a Fandom?: In a provocative piece, Stein notes the insta-fandom that sprung up around BBC’s Sherlock, “which, with two episodes aired at the time of writing, already has a full host of communities, fan fiction, vids, and fan art”, in contrast to the paucity of similar fanworks for Mad Men. Yet Stein argues that Mad Men fans have generated a wide variety of creative works which don’t fall easily under the more familiar fanworks model and arguably have a broader cultural influence.
Elsewhere, In Media Res hosts a theme week on professional wrestling. I totally blame the first piece by David Ray Carter, A History of Violence: politics, profits, and the changing face of the WWE, for drawing me back into watching WWE’s RAW this week after taking a post-Wrestlemania break. All of the posts are well worth reading, touching on issues around the production of performances, personae, and narratives that have broader resonance for media and celebrity fan cultures (e.g., Cory Barker’s Making the scripted more real? Pro wrestling and Twitter).
Meanwhile, Jason Tocci of Geek Studies examines the geek chic backlash in Scott Pilgrim vs. the Cultural Critique, while Kristina Busse looks inward in Geek Hierarchies, Boundary Policing, and the Good Fan/Bad Fan Dichotomy.